How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself" as an Interview Question

You’re almost always guaranteed to get this question when you first start an interview: “Can you tell me about yourself?”

Most people run into these challenges when answering this question:

  1. They ramble on for seemingly FOREVER

  2. They spend a disproportionate time focusing on the past vs the present and future

  3. They get caught up in mentioning details that may not be helpful in the interview

  4. They weren’t prepared for this question and end up with a lot of “ums…” in the answer

If this sounds like you, I have good news! I’m here to share with you my formula on how you can answer this question effectively so that you can crush it on your interview.

The easiest format to follow is the chronological approach.

  1. Past - Start by talking about your past education and work experiences.

    • Focus on the highlights on what you learned - Be concise and highlight your past with stories. For example, instead of saying how you learned how to do sales, share the actual story of how that happened. For example, when I joined Cisco, I enrolled in a 1 year training program where a mentor or teacher taught me about sales every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. We would go through the sales fundamentals, role plays and practice presentations in front of our peers.

    • Keep the messaging positive (you don’t want to complain about past experiences and be viewed as having a negative attitude).

    • Be concise and keep the messaging on point - For example, if the message you want to convey is that you’re a savvy sales representative, then focus on stories that showcase those talents.

  2. Present - Transition to talking about your current education and work experience and focus on these key areas

    • What you’re learning currently in this role

    • How you’ve grown in this role

    • Focus on sharing stories that the interviewer will remember

    • Focus on sharing data points (this will make you look extremely sharp especially if you can rattle off data points by memory)

    • Mention extracurricular activities that you also do to showcase your personality and values (ex: Charity work, community involvement, networking organizations, etc.)

    • Draw parallels - how does this current job help you prepare for this potential role that you’re interviewing for?

  3. Future - I encourage you to spend a bit more time on this section, mainly because you want to focus on:

    • Explaining how you’re going to add value to the company in this role (Look at the job responsibilities of the role to get an idea of how you’re going to help. Also, don’t be shy about asking the interviewer on how you can drive success for the company in this job and use that criteria in this discussion)

      • For example: “I’m really excited about joining your company in this role and here are 3 ways I believe I can add value.”

    • Talk about how you’re excited and passionate about the company’s mission

      • For example - let’s say you’re interviewing at Impossible Foods : “I’m incredibly excited about your mission in helping the world transition to a plant based diet to help reduce the environmental impact of meat and to help people live healthier lives.”

    • Discuss your thoughts on the company culture

      • For example - “I had a chance to watch the video that showcased your company culture and I’m so excited to work with other sharp, hard working, fun and passionate co-workers.”

      Need even more help in preparing for your interview?

      Check out my other posts:

    • “500 Interview Questions and Answers” - I wrote this with a Fortune 100 HR expert.

    • The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

      I hope this helps you in your interview!


Nelson Signature.jpg

Nelson Wang1 Comment