You sit down for a job interview. The interviewer greets you and gets started by asking you a simple question: ‘Tell me about yourself.’ How do you respond? What do recruiters want to know with this broad question?
How to answer “tell me about yourself” can be tricky because it’s an open-ended question, but it’s also one of the most common interview questions
you’ll encounter, and you should prepare for it.
What Does the Interviewer Want to Know?
The tell me about yourself interview question can be hard to answer because it feels so broad. Recruiters often use it as a transition. They might begin with some small talk and jump into the interview with this question.
During an interview, recruiters ask questions to make sure you have the right qualifications for the job. However, they will also want to get an idea of your personality to make sure you’ll be a good fit for the organization.
They ask this question to learn more about you, how you see yourself, and the things you consider important.
Good and Bad Answers to Tell Me About Yourself
There are no right and wrong answers to this open-ended question, but your answer will shape how the interviewer perceives you.
What does a good answer to tell me about yourself look like?
You can think of your answer as a summary of where you are in life and what you have accomplished so far. Your answer should tell the interviewer how you see yourself and which skills or qualities you value the most. You can begin your answer by using a few adjectives to describe yourself or sum up your current role.
Be specific. Share facts about your work experience and your accomplishments. You should also be honest. The recruiter will be able to tell if you make things up to impress them. This answer is an opportunity to show your personality.
A common mistake is to ramble on and give a disorganized answer. Some candidates share things that aren’t relevant to the position. These mistakes tell the interviewer you might not have good organization skills.
A bad answer might be too long and include details the interviewer doesn’t need to know about right away. For instance, talking about your past experiences in chronological order would mean that you start with something that isn’t very relevant.
Another common mistake is to start with something negative. You shouldn’t draw attention to your shortcomings or talk about a previous employer in a negative light.
You should also be careful when discussing your goals. Don’t bring up money or the possibility to earn more at a new job.
Examples of Tell Me About Yourself Answers
“I graduated high school in 2015. I never really thought about working in social media or marketing, but I got an internship with company X, and my internship manager told me it was a career where I could make a good living. Then I worked with company Y for a while, and I’d like to continue doing that but for a bigger company. I like doing this job because every day is different and I think I have good communication and writing skills for it."
This is a bad example. It’s too long, it starts with information that isn’t relevant to the position the candidate is applying for, and it mentions money.
“I’ve been working in social media marketing for five years now. I started as an intern with company X before finding a position with company Y. It’s a job I love doing because of the contact with the audience and the creative problem-solving."
This answer is fine. It tells the interviewer what they need to know and draws attention to the candidate’s strengths, but it lacks personality.
“I’m someone who is passionate about social media. Working as a community manager for the past two years has helped me develop my copywriting and analytics skills. In my last role, I was able to boost engagement by 12% on average for our posts. I’m really interested in how new social media trends are emerging and love experimenting with new content formats."
This third answer is great. It immediately tells the interviewer why the candidate is a good fit for the job, it includes facts, and the candidate mentions their professional goals.
You’re One Step Closer To Acing Your Interview
The tell me about yourself question can throw you off because it’s so broad. It’s best to prepare in advance and have a few talking points to give a structured answer that will make you come across as confident.
See more of our interview prep posts:
What Motivates You?
What is your work style?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?