How to answer Tell Me About Yourself


04 February 2023

How to answer Tell Me About Yourself illustration

How to answer tell me about yourself

If you are looking for your first job, or if you are looking to make a job switch – this is the first question you will likely be asked. “Tell me about yourself”. Here’s a quick guideline on how to answer it gracefully with talent.

Whether you are a fresher or an experienced professional, you are going to have to answer this question. Being well prepared to face this question increases the odds of creating a great first impression on your interviewers by many folds.

Idea in Brief

Typically, this will be the first question you will be asked in an interview, be it a phone screen or an on-site interview. The purpose of this question is to break the ice and give the opportunity to the interviewee to warm up to the rest of the discussion. This is also an opportunity for the interviewer to understand the candidate, a little more than what’s on the resume – job qualifications, achievements, etc.

Connect your story to the job and interviewer

Stick to a format such as Present, Past, and Future. For example, talk about what you are focusing on right now, and your past experiences which are relevant to the job, and then tie them to your future goals. The interview feels more conversational if you also take the liberty of reading your audience and talking about any relevant hobbies or intellectual interests.

Make sure to do the necessary research about the company and the role and introspect how your past experiences have enabled you to move forward in your career.

And most importantly, how this role will give you a platform for your future goals.

Sample response

Hi Good Afternoon. Thank you for taking time to meet with me today.

In my current role as Data analyst at J.P. Morgan, I take active interest in staying updated with the latest trends on Tableau. One of the events I recently participated in was an All-India Conference for Tableau Professionals in Mumbai. The event was very insightful and helped me build my professional network among other things.

Prior to this, I worked as a Business Analyst. After a couple years of stint, I realized having a hands-on knowledge of analytic makes me a better professional and improves my decision making. In the near future, I plan to grow on this track to become a veteran leader in my field. I am also an avid reader and find a lot of peace in swimming and exploring local café culture.

Talk about only the important details

One common mistake people commit while attempting to answer this question is talking about very irrelevant things.

You can see in my sample response, I limit talking about my qualifications and experiences to only areas that are relevant to the job I am interviewing for. For instance, I also have a bunch of certificates in non destructive X-ray testing of steel castings. It was a very important certificate ages ago so I am very proud of that certificate; but, for the job I am being interviewed for, talking about this certificate not only elongates my answer but also makes me come across as someone who does not know how to distinguish relevant skills from the irrelevant ones.

Finally, it will be really nice if you can add a line on how this job you are applying to helps you realize your career goals. It could be the industry this job exists in or the technical nature of the role - highlight whichever interests you the most in your answer.

A word of advice to fresh graduates

The "Tell me about yourself" question does not measure one's English language proficiency, accent or how outgoing someone is; so, you may have won the speech competitions in inter-collegiate fests - while it is a fantastic achievement, that alone is not going to be enough. Sit down and ask yourself what are your unique traits, why is this job you are applying to interests you, and among many different applicants who could be applying to the same role, why should the employer care to interview you. Once you have answers for these questions, stitch up your responses in a simple language and practice. You will be all set.

How to answer Tell Me About Yourself illustration