There are specific questions that are certain to come up in almost every job interview, and one of those questions is, “Tell me about yourself.” This almost seems like a boring question at first. What can you tell the interviewer that cannot already be learned by looking at your resume? The hiring manager also is not looking to hear your life story. Instead, you need to use this question as a way to talk about yourself professionally in a concise manner. Interviewers are looking to see how you would perform in this position and how you would perform in the company as a whole.
You are often asked to talk about yourself at the beginning of the interview, so your response will set the tone for everything else. A well-crafted answer that shows who you are and sets you apart from the other applicants will make the interviewer immediately like you. However, giving an answer that is long, rambling and boring will set the entire conversation off to a bad start, and you will have to work harder in order to get the hiring manager to like you. An employer wants to hire the best person for the job, so you need to talk about yourself in a way that shows you are capable of handling every responsibility thrown at you.
Your response should only last a minute or two, so do not feel the need to tell your whole life story. Your answer should be focused on the skills you possess that are relevant to the position and your experiences that make you a great candidate for the job. Answering this inquiry should be customized for every single interview you walk into so that you talk about the aspects of your life that are important for the specific job.
The end of your response should focus on why you are interested in the job you are applying for now. The past is important, but it is equally important to spend some time on the future and where you hope to be. You can talk about how getting this position would be great for your career path and how you plan to tackle the challenges facing you as you enter a new job.
A vital aspect of answering this question correctly is to thoroughly prepare beforehand. You should not have to think about who you are as a person or what you have to offer. Pausing or saying “Uhh…” is a surefire way to show that you are unprepared for the interview and that you do not know what it is that makes you different from other applicants. You can expect to be asked something along the lines of “Tell me about yourself” in every interview, so take the time to formulate your response before going in.
A simple question like this is surprisingly easy to answer incorrectly. Many interviewees make the mistake of giving their whole life story that rambles on and does not discuss who they are as a professional. This is not the time to talk about where you were born, where you went to school and what you like to do in your free time. Getting sidetracked is an easy way to make a poor first impression, so stick to job-related aspects of your life.
Even if you avoid rambling, you should still be careful about just rehashing the information on your resume. The interviewer already knows about your work history, so your answer should be focused on the finer details of your job experience. Talk about the benefits you provided your previous places of employment that may not have been listed on your resume. You also do not have to focus on jobs held years ago. Focus on the most recent places of employment so that the hiring manager has the best idea of where you are professionally right now.
Employers understand that they are not going to learn every single thing about you with this one question. If they need you to clarify something about your work history, then they will ask for it. If they want to get a better sense of your hobbies, they will ask for that later as well. This is the time to give a quick, well-rounded response that shows you have the most to offer this company.