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How to answer the question 'Tell me about yourself'

Updated on June 19, 2011

Remember

The whole idea of an interview is that the the company thinks you are the best for the position.
Think of yourself as a doctor, a healer if you will.

The company is in pain and hence it has advertised for a position.They need someone who can come in, take charge of things and take care of them, they need someone to reduce that pain.You are the doctor they are seeking out.

The interviewer is there to select you and not to reject you.

Every Interview Question seeks to find out / draw out/ bring to the fore some trait or the other.   The interviewer uses a number of questions to get a 360 degree view of the candidate (YOU) and make up his/her mind on the following:

  • Are you the right fit for the company / position / team?
  • Do you know what the company does/ company's mission / vision etc?
  • Do you really, really want this job?
  • Are you as talented/hard working/ sincere/ etc etc as you are trying to show?

Why ask the question 'Tell me about yourself'

Why would an interviewer ask the question 'Tell me about yourself'.

Generally this is a ice-breaker question. This is probably the first or second question asked in every question and the interviewer is wants:

  • time to read your resume - he/she will go over it while you are delivering your answer.
  • check you communication skills - your entire interview is one big communication skills test, but this question sets the tone. The vocabulary you use, your tone, your fluency in the language, the pitch, the sentences and the logical flow of the answer, will tell the interviewer where you are (by and large) and he/she will then conduct the rest of the interview with that in mind.
  • find something interesting to for the next question - a lead for more information, if you will.
  • Some of them may even look for attributes like positivity, creativity, time management skills. (I will detail how to achieve these below)

So How to answer 'Tell me about yourself'

In the past I have been of the opinion that you must not repeat what is on the resume, but call it experience or watching a lot more recruiters and HR heads at work, I have to say, I have changed my opinion.

Most expect you to tell them (in a shorter/ crisper version) exactly what is written on the resume.  

You should start with your education (schooling onwards - especially if you went to a top / 'A' school), move to your early years and then your recent work experience.

What is important is that you do not repeat verbatim what is printed on the resume.  Take the form of a story with a little narrative and add things that may not be there.

However, once the basics are done, I suggest you end with something that catches the eye or more aptly makes their ears stand up.  Finish off with a super sales performance mention or a skill set mention that you know they are looking for / hiring for (that will come from preparation - see How to Set up a Successful Interview as a Job Seeker )

I would be more than happy to help you improve your answer. Please leave the following in comments:

  • Name, age, education, position applying for
  • exact words you currently plan on using to answer this question.

I will then try and improve it for you.

Examples

These are random examples.

I was always fascinated by hotels.  After my 12th from XYZ school, I secured admission at the prestigious ABC college.  Graduating in the top ten, I joined MNC company as a Management Trainee.  Over the last 5 years with them, I have had the privilege to lead XX people, create and launch YY.

I was recently awarded the MD's star for a developing a system that reduced complaint response times by 30%

Comments | leave your current 'tell me about yourself' and I will help you improve it

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    • profile image

      funmi 5 years ago

      good morning ,am funmi,a graduate of federal college of education,am 22,pls i will like you to sent me how to answer the question tell me about yourself at interview.

    • profile image

      CHARLES SSENDAULA 5 years ago

      ssendaula caharles , 31years, professional course in accounting cpa' am an accountant applying for the post of an accountant.

      am sendaula charles aged 31 year of age and a finalist of cpa am holding a position of an accountant in virtaul works ltd

    • profile image

      subhajit 5 years ago

      contactv with me 9933787479

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
      Author

      Prabhjot Bedi 5 years ago from chandigarh

      @upendra call me on +91 783 772 4886 to discuss if you like.

      cheers!

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
      Author

      Prabhjot Bedi 5 years ago from chandigarh

      @jobseeker ha ha! good one. I could answer it here but then you wouldn't really have the patience to read it!

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      upendra 5 years ago

      i have an experience of both housekeeping & as front office receptionist for 7 years in hotel industry but still in not getting good opertunity, why so ? so, kindly suggest me to get an carreer- my mail is uppu.chennai@gmail.com

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      jobseeker 6 years ago

      why do people even ask these questions? read the damn resume!! lazy interviewers!

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
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      Prabhjot Bedi 6 years ago from chandigarh

      @iread thank you!

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      iread 6 years ago

      i like!

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      jube 6 years ago

      @prabhjotbedi: i have sent you an email! thank you so much!

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
      Author

      Prabhjot Bedi 6 years ago from chandigarh

      @jube I would have to see the application form and your application before I can offer any advice. you can mail them to me at mail@prabhjotbedi.com

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
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      Prabhjot Bedi 6 years ago from chandigarh

      @Nicky there seems to be problem with your account. All your comments seem copied from ones already listed on the hub.

    • Nicky Smart profile image

      Nicky Smart 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I am a female almost 34 years of age and never had a boyfriend or sex with anyone. Tell me what can I do to improve myself so as someone can start liking me? I don't wish to remain like this all my life as I wish to have children some day.

    • profile image

      jube 6 years ago

      i am applying for a LLM scholarship in the UK

      and im an international student

      how do i make them accept me?

    • iriske profile image

      iriske 6 years ago from Nanjing, China

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
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      Prabhjot Bedi 6 years ago from chandigarh

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      sam 6 years ago

      Hi, I am 34 years of age. I am BE Mechanical & having 10+ years of exp. Presently I am TL and now looking/applying for Project Leader/ Team Leader position.

      During Interview, i start with my BE and ended with what currently doing. But I am faceing a lot of issue while answering reason of change and weekenss.

    • prabhjotbedi profile image
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      Prabhjot Bedi 6 years ago from chandigarh

      @Indi this is not something this hub talks about. However, if you would like to talk about this, please drop a line to mail@prabhjotbedi.com

    • profile image

      Indi 6 years ago

      I am a female almost 34 years of age and never had a boyfriend or sex with anyone. Tell me what can I do to improve myself so as someone can start liking me? I don't wish to remain like this all my life as I wish to have children some day.