Career Tips

“Tell me about yourself” is a favourite interview remark. So how do you respond?

Date Posted: 10/6/2021

“Tell me about yourself” is a difficult question for many job candidates because they wonder how to summarize a 10 or 15 year career into a short, interesting answer. Candidates sometimes go through their resume point-by-point or ramble on about their achievements through school, family, hobbies, and passions, which is not helpful for the hiring manager who is trying to decide whether the candidate is qualified for the job.

What hiring managers are looking for

When a hiring manager asks you to tell them about yourself, they’re looking to see if your professional story is a fit for the job they’re hiring for. They want to know how you’ve progressed to this point in your career and why you think you’d be a good fit for the job.

How to answer the interview question “tell me about yourself”

A good way to answer the interview question “tell me about yourself” is to try to make your response highlight why you’re the right person for the job. You can talk about your experience—why you took a particular position, what you achieved, and what you were looking for when you left.  Then explain why you’re a good fit for the job you are applying for.

Should you get personal?

When crafting your answer to the question “Tell me about yourself,” think about what aspects of your life and personality you want to highlight that will show you’re a good fit for the job. Try to focus on professional achievements, personal experiences that show you’re a well-rounded individual, or hobbies and interests that can make you stand out.

A good formula to follow is:

  • Start with: Two to three sentences summarizing your career, for example “I’ve spent the last 5 years in product maintenance, the last two of which I focused on xxx”.
  • Resume highlights: Pick a few experiences that directly connect to the role you’re interviewing for and explain how they’ve prepared you to succeed in that position. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a shift supervisor you might highlight your experience creating and executing successful time sheets.
  • Conclusion: Two to three sentences summarizing why this particular job, company, and team was attractive to you, based on your previous experiences. For example, you might say that you’re excited to join a company with a strong mission that you can really believe in, or that you’re looking forward to working with a team of passionate, driven people.

However, you answer the question, it’s a good idea to keep your answer short and sweet. This will help to drive the conversation about your suitability for the job.