How To Answer the "Tell Me About Yourself" Interview Question

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Discover how to share about yourself, while focusing your answer on your work experience and personal life, and provide honest answers which provide your interviewer with a greater glimpse of who you are.
Nov 15, 2022 7 min read

Interviewers ask this question to learn more about who you are, what motivates you, and what makes you different from other candidates. To create the perfect answer, focus on your professional career, academic experience, and personal life. Keep it brief and include your trajectory and future goals. Practice your answer to stay on point.

Early in an interview, you may come across the dreaded, "Tell me a little about yourself" interview question.

You may be outgoing, able to captivate a room with an interesting story, but when it comes to talking about your personal interests, you may be left scratching your head. The reason may be that there are so many things that comprise who you are, so many personal details of previous experiences and key accomplishments, that it’s difficult to come up with a succinct answer.

If you're the type of person who finds it difficult to answer this question, don't worry one bit. There are lots of ways to answer this question, but in order to do this, you need to be self-reflective.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Why do interviewers ask, "Tell me about yourself?"
  • Tips to plan the perfect answer
  • Example answers

If you're a jobseeker who wants to know a little more about how to answer open-ended questions like this one in an interview, speak with a career counselor from Enhancv. While chatting with them, you'll learn how to highlight your personal qualities and strengths through your answers, which can allow you to land your dream job.

Why do employers ask the interview questions "Tell me about yourself"

“Tell me about yourself” type of questions are usually perceived as good starting points in a job interview. They’re meant to ease you in, letting the recruiter learn more about you with a question that you know a lot about –– yourself.

Furthermore, these types of questions are a great way for recruiters to scope your communication skills. Talking about oneself is no easy feat. In fact, these questions tend to be the ones that are most difficult to job applicants to answer as they require a lot of introspection and self-awareness. They want to know if you can organize your thoughts and speak clearly and effectively. This is a crucial skill in almost any job. By asking you to talk about yourself, interviewers can see how you express your thoughts and whether you can keep your explanation brief and to the point.

On the other hand, “tell me about yourself” is a great way for interviewers to gain better insight into your background. Often times that’s the way they learn about your education, work experience and skills, as well as any successful or unsuccessful projects you’ve had.

Last but not least, when you talk about yourself it’s a great way for hiring managers to see if you’ll be a good fit for a company. This is the best way to understand if you’ll fit in the team if you end up joining the company.

Variations of the “Tell me about yourself” question

There are a bunch of different ways for interviewers to ask you an introspective question. “Tell me about yourself” is just one variation, but being the main interviewer at Enhancv, I have a few favorites that have proven to be effective while hiring more than 80 people within the last decade or so.

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Versions of the “Tell me about yourself” question

  • Can you introduce yourself?
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • What should I know about you that’s not on your resume?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Can you give me a brief overview of your background?
  • What’s your story?
  • How did you get to where you are today?
  • Tell me something interesting about yourself.
  • What are the highlights of your career so far?
  • Who are you professionally?
  • Give us a little background about yourself.
  • What makes you who you are?
  • Describe your journey to this point in your career.
  • What would you like me to know about you as a professional?
  • Can you summarize your life’s work briefly?

If you end up hearing one of these questions, then know that it’s a multifaceted answer that you should give. Try to provide the recruiter with an answer about yourself that also let’s them understand if you’ll be a good fit for the company.

How to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question

With an open-ended question with so many nuances like this one, there really isn't a wrong answer. You can share a little more about your personal life, what you're passionate about, and you won't necessarily answer the question wrong.

However, there is also a way to refine your answer to get the most impact. You may choose to share about your technical skills, personal strengths, and relevant experience in your answer.

Below, you can find some helpful tips when answering about yourself:

First, start with the present

Begin by talking about your current situation. Briefly mention your current role, your primary responsibilities, and perhaps a recent achievement. This sets the stage with your most recent professional experiences.

For example:
I'm currently a marketing coordinator with XYZ Corp, where I've been for the last three years. I'm responsible for managing our content calendar and coordinating campaigns that have successfully increased our brand engagement by over 30%.

Then, talk about your past

Give a quick summary of how you got to this point in your career. Highlight any relevant past experiences that led you to where you are today. Focus on the experiences and skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for.

For example:
Before this, I completed a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from ABC University. I also interned at several media companies where I developed my content creation and SEO skills.

Don’t forget to mention the future

Explain why you're excited about the opportunity to which you're applying. Connect your background and skills directly to the job description, showing how you are a good fit and how eager you are to contribute.

For example:
I'm excited about the opportunity to bring my background in content marketing and my passion for brand storytelling to your company. I believe my experience aligns well with the needs of your team, and I am eager to contribute to innovative projects that drive your company's growth.

Tailor your answer

Customize your answer for each job you interview for. Use the job description to guide which parts of your background to highlight, demonstrating that you've done your research and understand what the role entails.

By using this structure, you can present a compelling narrative that showcases your qualifications, professionalism, and readiness for the new role. This not only answers the question effectively but also connects your background to the specific needs and values of the company you’re hoping to join.

Keep it specific, professional, and brief

When you're sharing about yourself in the interview process, try to keep it brief, as well as specific and personal to your own experiences.

The interviewer isn't looking for you to rehash your work history or share about every job that you've held up to your current role.

Instead, they want to see a little more about what motivates you. For example, you can mention that you are a mother with two young daughters, and what really drives you is the ability to show a hard-working, independent woman in the workplace as a role model to your daughters.

That answer itself packed so much meaning into such a small space. It shows that you are dedicated to leaving a legacy behind for your kids to follow, and that shows that you are the type of person who wants to be honest in the workplace, work hard to complete tasks, and do your best to fit within the company culture.

Practice your answer

One of the most important things you can do is to practice your answer before heading into an interview. You want to be able to access it from your memory in a single moment.

Make sure, however, that you do not totally memorize your answer. Some people will try to recite the exact words word-for-word, and they inevitably stumble over their words as they try to remember the best answer. Instead, remember a few talking points that you want to stick to, and use those as jumping-off points,

This will sound a lot more real when you are actually in the middle of an interview.

The three talking points to keep in mind — work experience, academic career, and personal life

Suitable answers to this question stick to one of three talking points: your work experience, your academic career, and your personal life. Most of what you talk about when you share about yourself will involve your work experience, as you are in the middle of a job interview. It's important to talk about successful projects that you worked on, your previous experience, and your plans for your career path.

You may also choose to share a little about your academic career. You can mention where you went to college, what things you studied, as well as any certificates and diplomas you've earned to upgrade your skill set. If you're a recent graduate, you may lean more heavily into your academic career when answering this question. For example, you may mention that you have a bachelor's degree in computer science, if you have yet to gain any experience in a specific job in that field.

You can also mention specific skills that you have, like problem-solving skills.

Lastly, share a bit about your personal life. Mention if you have any kids or a spouse, and what you do in your spare time.

Although this may seem like small talk, your marital status may help you build rapport with your interviewer. They may be going through some of the same personal experiences you are, so letting them in to see a brief glimpse of your life may help you make yourself memorable.

“Tell me about yourself” answer that you can use

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my background with you today. I'm [Your Name], and I've been building a career in [Your Field/Industry] for the past [Number] years. I graduated from [Your University] with a degree in [Your Degree], which laid the foundation for my interest and expertise in [Area of Specialization].

Early in my career, I worked at [Company or Position], where I developed my skills in [Specific Skill or Area], leading projects that [Specific Achievement or Result]. This experience ignited my passion for [Area You're Passionate About], driving me to pursue opportunities that allowed me to further hone my abilities in this area.

Most recently, I've been with [Most Recent Company or Job Title], where I have focused on [Key Responsibilities or Projects]. Here, I’ve not only sharpened my skills in [Skill or Area], but also gained valuable experience in [Another Skill or Area], which I believe will be particularly relevant to the work at [Company You’re Interviewing For].

Outside of work, I engage in [Hobby or Interest], which I find [How It Relates to Your Professional Skills or Keeps You Balanced]. I’m excited about the opportunity to bring my background in [Your Professional Skills or Experiences] and my personal qualities of [Personal Traits or Strengths] to your team, and I look forward to contributing to your success.

Example answers to all variations of “Tell me about yourself” interview questions

Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, I'm [Your Name]. I've been working as a [Your Profession] for over [Number] years, specializing in [Area of Specialization]. I’m passionate about leveraging my skills to contribute positively to my work environment and deliver quality results.

Walk me through your resume.

Certainly! I began my career with [First Company], where I held roles in [Department/Function], which taught me valuable lessons in [Key Skills or Experiences]. After [Number] years, I moved to [Next Company or Role], where I advanced to [Position] and worked on [Significant Projects or Responsibilities]. Most recently, I've been at [Current Company or Position], where I focus on [Current Responsibilities or Projects].

What should I know about you that’s not on your resume?

Something that isn’t captured on my resume is my passion for continuous learning and personal development. I regularly engage in [Activities or Interests] to improve my [Skills or Qualities], which I believe significantly contributes to my professional capabilities.

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a dedicated and strategic thinker, with a strong commitment to excellence. I thrive in environments that challenge me and enjoy opportunities where I can use my problem-solving skills to create effective solutions.

Can you give me a brief overview of your background?

I grew up in [Location] and studied [Field of Study] at [University/College]. I started my career in [Industry/First Job], and over the years, I've gained experience in [Key Areas of Experience], working with diverse teams and on various high-impact projects.

What’s your story?

I’ve always been driven by a desire to improve and innovate. Starting from a junior role in [Industry], my career journey has been fueled by my passion for [Industry-Related Interest], leading me through progressive roles and into my current position as a [Current Job Title].

How did you get to where you are today?

My journey here has been a mix of hard work, timely opportunities, and continuous learning. From my early days at [First Company], each role offered new challenges and learning opportunities, which helped me build expertise and navigate my career path effectively.

Tell me something interesting about yourself.

An interesting aspect about me is that I’m an avid [Hobby or Interest]. This hobby has taught me [Skill or Lesson], which parallels many professional situations I’ve encountered.

What are the highlights of your career so far?

One of the highlights of my career has been leading the [Specific Project or Initiative] at [Company], which resulted in [Impactful Outcome]. Another significant milestone was being awarded [Award or Recognition] for my contributions to [Field/Industry].

Who are you professionally?

Professionally, I am someone who is resilient, innovative, and highly motivated. I’m known for my expertise in [Skill or Area], my ability to drive successful outcomes, and my commitment to fostering inclusive and dynamic work environments.

Give us a little background about yourself.

I’ve spent the past [Number] years in the [Industry] sector, where I’ve developed a solid foundation in [Key Skills or Areas]. Alongside my professional life, I engage in [Volunteer Work or Community Service], which keeps me grounded and connected to my community.

What makes you who you are?

A combination of my professional experiences, my educational background in [Field], and my personal interests in [Interests]. These elements have shaped my approach to work and life, emphasizing [Value or Trait].

Describe your journey to this point in your career.

It’s been a journey of growth and challenges. Starting as a [Entry-Level Job], I progressed through roles requiring more responsibility, learning from each experience and leveraging this knowledge to enhance my performance and contribution in subsequent positions.

What would you like me to know about you as a professional?

I’d like you to know that I am deeply committed to my professional development and to the success of the teams I work with. My approach is always rooted in [Key Professional Principle or Value], and I strive to bring out the best in both my work and my colleagues.

Can you summarize your life’s work briefly?

In brief, my life’s work has been dedicated to [Field or Industry], where I have strived to make meaningful contributions through roles that involve [Key Activities or Responsibilities]. Each role has taught me valuable lessons which I’ve applied to both my professional and personal life.

Key takeaways

  • When answering this question, keep your answers brief, and do not share your entire life story.
  • A jobseeker should focus on their professional career, academic experience, and personal life.
  • Be sure to mention the trajectory of your career, engine and experiences, your current position, where you hope to see your job heading.

If you are interested in providing a sound answer for this open-ended interview question, it might be best to speak with a career counselor from Enhancv. They can help you tailor your answer to the position, allowing you to land your dream job.

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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