How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in a Job Interview

While it might seem odd, ‘tell me about yourself’ is an interview question that many people struggle to answer.

You’d think it’d be the easiest, after all, you only have to talk about yourself. Unfortunately, it’s a broad question that often throws people off-balance.

People are never sure whether to talk about themselves in a professional or a personal sense and may struggle.

Below, we explore how to answer ‘tell me about yourself’ in an interview, with several examples and different approaches you can take.

Why do interviewers ask this question?

There’s several reasons that interviewers lead with this question. It’s an icebreaker for both parties. It eases the interviewer into the actual process while the interviewee gets a relatively easy question to answer – provided they know what they want to say.

It also works as a great transition question too. Interviews often start with small talk and this question is a great way to move away from that without going into the hard-hitting questions straight away.

Finally, let’s not forget that for most interviewers, the purpose of the interview is to discover if you’re a good fit. Understanding you at a fundamental level is a critical part of this process.

What are the different variations of ‘tell me about yourself?’

There’s no set questions you’ll get in an interview – it all depends on the wording of the interviewer. While in our experience people tend to stick to this wording or very similar, sometimes you might get it sounded out differently including:

Walk me through your CV

Tell me a bit about your background

Tell me about your career

What got you up to this point?

Ultimately, this is an invitation for you to start describing your career so far, ambitions and reasoning.

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How to answer ‘tell me about yourself’

The key to this question is understanding that you don’t want to give the interviewer your life story. It’s your job to provide an overview of your professional career, demonstrate some hard or soft skills and explain your reasoning for applying.

The basic goal of your answer should be the same as always – demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job. Some basic tips around your answer include:

1. Come up with a bespoke answer

Always remember that the more tailored your application and answers are, the better. When an interviewer asks you to ‘tell me about yourself’, you can still provide a bespoke answer that suits the company you’re applying to.

So how do you achieve this? First things first, research the company as much as possible (both website and social media channels), take a detailed look at the job description and understand what they’re actually looking for. 

Cross reference that with your own experiences or skill set and you’ll have a handy checklist of what you need to cover in your answer.

2. Keep it professional

When you answer ‘tell me about yourself’, you might feel tempted to talk about your personal life such as your hobbies or life interests. 

While this can help your application, it’s usually better to keep it professional as you can guarantee this will be somewhat relevant.

Likewise, the more you talk about yourself from a personal perspective, the more likely you are too go off-topic and start rambling.

3. Don’t try to memorise lines

While we always recommend practising what you’re going to say, we do not recommend trying to memorise lines. You don’t want the interview to be the first time you’re answering this question, so take the time to note down some ideas pre-interview.

If you can, enlist the help of someone to support your roleplay. It’s always more useful to practise with someone else as they’ll be able to offer feedback and provide you with confidence about your answers.

4. Speak about past, present and future

A great way to simplify your answer is to break it down into three parts: past, present and future.

Explaining your past is as simple as telling your interviewer what got you to where you are today – your past experiences relevant to the role.

Explaining your present is your current role. What is the scope of your role, what responsibilities do you have and do you have a recent achievement?

Explaining your future is essentially why you want to take on the role, what you’re hoping it offers and what you feel will come from the role.

Example answer for  ‘tell me about yourself’ in a job interview

Below is an example answer for the question, ‘tell me about yourself’: 

“Absolutely! I started my career working in an agency in the Midlands, supporting SMEs that required marketing support. Over five years, I was part of a team of 10 people that were delivering campaigns across multiple marketing channels. We successfully created a function that delivered around £300,000 in revenue annually. Following that, I moved to an in-house role in a finance company, heading up their marketing team. I spent 3 years as the Marketing Manager there, where we increased the number of monthly leads for the company by 30% over the 3 successive years. When I saw this role, I realised that being a Marketing Director at your company is the next best step for my career and will allow me to truly establish myself in the industry, building on my management skills and helping me make a huge impact for the business.

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