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7 Examples Of How To Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” In Interviews

One inevitable question asked in every interview is ‘Tell me about yourself.’ As easy as it seems, how you answer this question can either get you to the next stage or not.

Many interviewees agree that answering this question can be tricky since it is open-ended. If you’ve never been interviewed, it can be very confusing because you are unsure of what would be the perfect starting point.

Besides, it’s easy to think of the question as a personal one. So it can be a bit complex to answer considering that your interviewer has no business with your personal life.

However, you don’t need to fret if you struggle to answer this interview question. In this article, I will shed more light on the essential tips to help you better answer the question like a pro and also provide sample answers to follow through.

But before that, let’s look at why this question is important in interviews.

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Why Interviewers Always Ask the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Question?

You can quickly provide the correct answers once you understand why interviewers always ask the question in the first place. Most interviews ask this question for the following reasons:

  1. They want to ease you into the interview. It’s normal to be slightly nervous when you walk in for an interview so the interviewer asks you the question to break the ice and make you comfortable.
  2. Interviewers also ask this question because they want to set the pace and tone of the interview. How you respond will provide the interviewer with insights on how to continue with the interview.
  3. It is also a way to evaluate your confidence. Interviewers are concerned with how well you speak, your mannerisms, and your ability to communicate concisely.
  4. Finally, most interviewers ask such questions to get a sense of your real-life experience regarding your skills and qualifications. It helps them to analyze your past job experience, skills, and accomplishments.

Now that you understand why this question is necessary, let’s look at helpful tips that will help you answer correctly.

How To Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” – Tips To Follow

1. Plan Your Answer

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The first tip for answering the dreaded ‘Tell me about yourself’ question like an expert is to plan your answer.

Newbies may need more time to start on a personal note or go through their academic background.

The first thing to know is that the interviewer isn’t interested in personal details about yourself, so you don’t need to launch into a long story about your life.

Your answer should be work-related; the best starting point is discussing your work experiences.

You can plan your answer accordingly by using the Past-Present-Future formula. The P-P-F formula works like this:

  1. Past: Here, you must start with a brief insight into your academic or skill background. Focus on your college education or the latest skills acquired related to the job. If you’ve had previous work experience, it is also great to input those experiences and how you landed those roles.
  • Present: You have to let the interviewer into your current situation. You can talk about your role, responsibilities, and successes if you still hold a position.
  • Future: You should discuss why you’re interested in the role and what you hope to accomplish working in that position.

2. Don’t Memorize

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Once you’ve planned your answer, the next thing to do is practice it as often as you can. However, the key takeaway is to avoid memorizing your answer.

An interviewer wants to interview a human, not a robot. Memorizing your answer only makes you slightly monotonous and doesn’t portray any personality.

If you memorize your answer, you’ll find yourself struggling should you forget anything which isn’t a good look for the interviewer. And if there is a brief interruption, it throws you off-guard.

One helpful tip to avoid memorizing is to create a general outline of your points. Once you have an overview of things to talk about, you can answer your question more confidently and comfortably, letting your personality shine through.

3. Know Your Interviewer

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Knowing your interviewer is another excellent tip for providing professional responses to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question. In all honesty, it can be draining to answer that question at every interview stage.

However, it doesn’t mean you should give a one-covers-all answer because different people will conduct each interview step.

For instance, if the HR manager is interviewing you, the safest bet is to provide a general answer because they are not so concerned about your specific skills.

They are primarily concerned about ensuring you are good enough to pass on to the next stage. On the other hand, if the CEO or a hiring manager is interviewing you, you should go into more technical details.

Here, you’re free to give a more specific analysis of your skills, qualifications, and how they make the perfect fit for the role.

Providing the exact answer at every interview doesn’t quite cut it, and depending on who is interviewing you, you may win or lose them.

4. Give a Tailored Answer

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Another excellent tip to help you give a well-detailed professional background in interviews is to tailor your answer to match the role you’re applying for.

While you might have a list of admirable work experiences and skills, make sure you only highlight those relevant to the position you’re applying to.

If you’re applying for the role of an editor with a magazine company, there’s no reason you should talk about the time you worked as an accountant or real estate manager.

Your answer should be tailored to address the employer’s expectations. If your answer highlights what value you intend to bring to the company regarding their needs, you may get to the next interview stage.

Hence, using the Past-Present-Future formula may help with planning your answer, but it is up to you to ensure that every point matches the role’s requirements.

5. Highlight Your Strengths and Accomplishments

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While giving a tailored answer to the question, also be sure to highlight your strengths and accomplishments in past roles.

You should spend more time talking about the specific skills that make you an excellent fit for the job. Also, give real-life examples of how you used those skills to create an impact.

‘Numbers don’t lie,’ so spotlighting your strengths and accomplishments will make you stand out from other candidates.

For example, if you’re in the banking industry, you can highlight your mathematical or cash-handling skills and tax knowledge and how they helped your company grow. This gives you the credentials that make you a suitable candidate.

One great tip for this is to highlight accomplishments from past positions that align with the prospective employer’s needs.

If you’re fresh from college with no previous work experience, you can talk about your academic accomplishments, structuring them in a way that mirrors the company’s expectations.

6. Keep It Professional

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As stated earlier, when you’re asked to talk about yourself in an interview, you’re not expected to talk about your personal life. All your points should be professional and geared to the job requirements.

It isn’t an opportunity to talk about your family, how you grew up, what high school you attended, or who your partner is. That information is irrelevant to the role.

Hence your answer should focus on your unique selling points and the necessary skills/qualifications to back this up.

You should also ensure that your answer is 85% work-related and perhaps 15% personal. When personal, only talk about essential personality traits that align with your profession.

If you tell a unique story, it should highlight a helpful strength. You should note that while keeping your answer professional, let the interviewer get a glimpse of you as a person, not just a potential employee.

Discuss your goals and career aspirations passionately, ensuring you get the interviewer’s attention.

7. Be Concise

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Having a long list of excellent skills, experiences or accomplishments doesn’t necessarily mean you should talk about every one of them. So, you should try as much as you can to keep your answer short and straight to the point.

Stick to talking about skills and experiences relevant to the prospective job and keep it as straightforward as possible. If possible, you should have a personal timeframe for every question that will be asked during the interview.

You can allocate three to five minutes to when you’ll be asked to talk about yourself. Hence plan your answer in a way that keeps it brief and highlights your skills without making you sound like a human ‘resume’.

Be conversational but keep track of time because you still have other questions to answer as the interview proceeds.

8. Avoid Rambling

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This isn’t an opportunity to flex your oratory skills or try to crack jokes with your interviewer. Remember it’s an open-ended question and so you shouldn’t go on and on for close to 10 minutes without a relevant answer.

Aside from boring your interviewer, it also downplays your communication skills. No one wants an employee that drones on and on during important meetings.

Once you notice your interviewer looking distracted or bored, it’s your cue to stop talking. Even when they seem interested, be sure to stick to only the crucial points.

9. Be Reasonably Positive

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Even though you have the perfect answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, be sure to be reasonably positive and not appear overly confident.

If you are asked why you left your previous role, keep your answer positive regardless of the circumstances that led to you quitting.

Avoid saying negative things about your former company as well. It will surely not do you any good to have something negative to say about your former employer to the interviewer.

Similarly, be optimistic about getting the role and avoid any form of emotional display.

10. Be Sure to Make an Impression

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Finally, be sure to leave a striking impression after answering the question. The goal here is to set yourself apart from other candidates.

Although you’ll have other opportunities to create an image, make sure your answer piques the interviewer’s interest so that they want to know more about you.

It would be best if you exuded confidence and assertiveness from the first handshake to how you speak. Maintain eye contact, and avoid stammering or fidgeting, or generally appearing nervous even though you might be.

Be firm when speaking and make eye contact with the interviewer(s). It shows them that you’re confident and know your onions when it comes to the job you applied for.

Sample Answers to The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

Now that you know the essential tips to help you talk about yourself professionally, here are some examples you should take note of for more clarity:

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Example 1

Interviewee: Alright. My name is Phoebe, and I’m 26 years old. Over the past three years, I worked as a digital marketer at Company A.

I have a professional background in Marketing with a B.A from the University of AB. I’ve always been interested in Marketing, but my interest was further piqued when I interned at the famous XYZ Marketing Firm.

All the skills I learned at XYZ Marketing firm helped me carry out successful projects when I worked at Company A.

I used my knowledge of SEO, data analysis, social media management, and content writing to ensure the company got clients and saved up on company resources.

I also initiated a social media marketing campaign for a celebrity that garnered the proper attention and profited both the client and the company.

I intend to use the skills and experiences from past roles to provide value to the company and ensure the company’s expectations are met. That is why I’m interested in the position your company offers.

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Example 2 (Sample answer for fresh college graduates)

Interviewee: My name is Ethan, and I’m a 22-year-old graduate from the University of AB with a distinction in Chemical Engineering. I’ve always been fascinated with science, with a focus on engineering.

While in university, I was able to garner valuable theories and categories critical in chemical engineering, which are design, research, development, operations, and commissioning.

I graduated with a GPA of 3.6 while heading various extra-curricular projects and actively participating in the student union.

I have put time, focus, and hard work into ensuring I come out of the university with flying colors, and now I’m ready to apply all the knowledge I’ve learned to real-life practice.

Although I lack experience in the role, I’ve been exposed to a working environment and have gained some skills that can help me scale through any work environment and role.

Your company is a reputable engineering firm, and this is the right place to leverage all of what I’ve learned, which is why I’m applying for the role.

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Example 3

Interviewee: Sure. I’m Jon, and I’m a 28-year-old editor. I’ve always loved writing for as far back as I can remember.

After reading out a piece everyone loved at prom, I pursued a writing-related course from the University of XY with a B.A. in English.

While in university, I worked as an editor for the college’s magazine and realized I loved editing as much as I loved writing.

After school, I took a job at ABC Publishing Company, where I handled and edited copies, books, and web content for the company.

While there, I also managed a team of writers and editors, and we significantly improved our clients’ writing process.

Over the years, we’ve edited and published six best-selling books and received awards for our hard work.

However, I realized I’d like to take on a new challenge. With the skills and experiences I’ve gotten from my previous role, coupled with the fact that I am an avid reader of your magazine, I decided to apply.

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Example 4 (Sample answer for someone who wants to switch careers)

Interviewee: I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a 32-year-old project manager. For most of my career, I’ve worked as a project manager for many B2B and SaaS startups, planning, organizing, and ensuring the completion of all projects.

All the years spent working in the project management niche have exposed me to collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, ClickUp, and Asana, among others.

During my time in these companies, I have managed five essential projects that were huge successes without any glitches.

However, people management is a lot more fulfilling, especially regarding professional growth and development.

Knowing this, I decided to launch a professional development program that helps prospective and fresh graduates find their feet in their respective careers.

So far, I’ve planned and organized three successful workshops at University AB, XY, and Z campuses.

All these have informed my decision to transition into a professional consultant, where I can create helpful training and programs to help professionals grow in their careers.

Immediately I saw your job opening, and I knew this would be a great starting point for me because of your reputation as one of the country’s best consulting firms.

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Example 5

Interviewee: My name is Chris, and I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for over three years. I primarily work as a personal assistant to celebrities, helping them efficiently plan and manage their schedules.

In this period, I’ve gained helpful communication, problem-solving, and time management skills that ensured success with all of my employers.

I recently worked with a public relations team for a celebrity marketing campaign and enjoyed influencing public perspectives about someone or something.

Knowing this, I decided to intern with a renowned public relations company transiting into PR full time. In the six months I spent there, I’ve been able to help teams mitigate controversial issues surrounding a brand.

To increase my qualifications, I have greatly improved my writing, marketing, persuasion, and social media skills.

I’m looking to expand my experience by venturing into the public relations field and helping put brands in the right light.

Your company requires someone ready to work and positively spotlight the company. This has led me to apply for the job opening because I’m the right fit.

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Example 6

Interviewee: I’m Jane, and I have always loved a fast-paced working environment. My previous role as a Manager at XY hotel allowed me to attend to hundreds of clients daily.

This greatly improved my efficiency, communication, and interpersonal skills. For the three years I worked with them, I have been able to troubleshoot many complaints and avoided any errors on my part.

I was awarded staff of the year because of my problem-solving skills, which surpassed the hotel’s expectations.

However, I’m ready to transition into a role where all these skills will be valuable to a larger organization. I applied for this role because I can make a difference.

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Example 7

Interviewee: I’m Dave, and I’ve been a content writer for over two years, freelancing for various clients.

In my last role working with the AZ website, I was the lead content manager and was responsible for creating high-quality articles, blog posts, press releases, and general web content.

I used my knowledge of SEO, keyword research, and marketing skills to ensure that the website experienced high traffic and conversions while ranking high on Google’s first page.

Before working with the AZ website, I worked with company AB as a content writer creating valuable copies and articles for print and social media use.

In the six months I worked with them, the company witnessed a 60% increase in conversions. However, I’m ready to take on a full-time role, and there’s only one place I’d like to start, and that’s with this company.

Conclusion

Generally, when you are asked to talk about yourself during an interview, you should focus on highlighting your previous job backgrounds, the skills you have that are related to the job applied for, and what you’re looking to achieve should you be hired.

Also, try as much as you can to let your personality shine through because it’s an opportunity for your interviewers to get to know more about you.

Lastly, you should plan your answer carefully and make sure each point is tailored to match the job description.