If you’ve attended an interview recently, chances are high you were asked some version of “Tell me about yourself.”
Despite the near certainty of this question, candidates often struggle to provide a good answer. Common problems include:
What makes this question difficult is its open-endedness.
Unlike behavioral interview questions (e.g. “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with your supervisor”), “Tell me about yourself” has no boundaries, making it challenging to stay relevant and concise.
I’ve come to love this questions for the following reasons.
1. It’s practically certain. You are nearly always going to be asked some version of this. While I encourage candidates to review common interview questions, there are too many to memorize. This is one of the few that you can count on, which makes it worth polishing.
2. It’s a first impression opportunity. “Tell me about yourself” is also likely to be asked first. First impressions have a disproportionate effect on overall perception. It’s more difficult to drop after a strong start than to come back after a rough one. Hence, your response has the potential to set a positive tone for your entire interview.
3. You can shareanyinformation. While its open-endednessmakes this question intimidating, it also makes it powerful. You never have to walk away saying, “I wish they had asked me about my supervision experience,” because you have the opportunity to share exactly what you want them to know.
The following guidelines will help you nail the “tell me about yourself” question, getting your interview started off on the right foot.
Study the job description.
Even if you reviewed it when you made your application, do it again.Study it until you can identify the following.
1. Mission:What is the mission of the company? How does this position support the mission?
2. Goals:What are the immediate goals of this position? How will your success be evaluated?
3. Job duties:What day-to-day tasks does this position need to execute to accomplish said goals?