The job interview process is by far one of the most nerve wracking parts of the job search. You aced the resume and found your dream job. Now you just have to get through the interview! No matter how much you prepare, job seekers tend to get stuck on one particular question: tell me about yourself. While it’s an innocuous question, it tends to trip people up, which is why Signature Source is here to give you some tips on how to answer this question.
What Hiring Managers Really Want To Learn From This Interview Question
The reason the question “tell me about yourself” seems so difficult is that it’s very broad. It’s hard to decide what should be highlighted and what you should be talking about? Do you need to mention the hobbies that you do in your free time? Is it important for them to know about that time you built a castle out of cardboard, which in turn kicked off your interest in architecture? Ultimately, the question is used to get a better sense of you in a professional setting. Career coach Phoebe Gavin says, “[T]hey’re trying to understand what your professional narrative is. How did you get to this point, and why does it make sense for you to be here talking to me about this job?”
How To Answer The Question “Tell Me About Yourself”
Talking about your professional narrative is easier said than done. Below are three tips to help you come up with an answer that will blow the hiring manager away:
Come up with a theme. A theme can help you stay on track and give you an outline to follow when answering the question. This theme can be a passion, a skill, a mission, that you’ve portrayed throughout your job history. For example, maybe your theme is “creating a sense of community” and you can talk about activities your third grade class did that encouraged teamwork and the work you did as an event organizer. Once you’re confident in your theme, use that to frame your work experience.
Follow this formula. Gavin says she often suggests clients use the following formula when answering “tell me about yourself”:
- Introduction: take 2-3 sentences to summarize your career thus far
- Resume highlights: pick a few experiences from your resume that strongly support your interest in the job you’re interviewing for. Take a few minutes to explain how these experiences have prepared you for the position
- Conclusion: to conclude, take 2-3 sentences to summarize why the job, company, and/or team is of interest to you
Add some personal touches. While you don’t want to go off on a tangent about your porcelain teapot collection, adding some personal stories can actually make you stand out to a hiring manager or even point out specific skills. For example, Gavin often mentions that she comes from an impoverished background. This gives some context as to her work history and also weeds out employers who act turned off that she comes from an impoverished background. Gavin also notes that some hobbies can highlight skills, such as how being a marathon runner has helped someone break down bigger goals into smaller, achievable steps.
We hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions about answering the interview question “tell me about yourself” or just job hunting in general, feel free to contact us.