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How to Answer the Age-Old Question: Tell Me About Yourself

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No matter how many interviews you sit for, or for whom you are interviewing, you will inevitably be asked the same introductory question: tell me about yourself. You may have an elevator speech already prepared. Perhaps you include certain facts about your educational background, personal life and interests. But are you sure you are answering correctly or rather in a way that will help you secure the position at stake?

When encountered with this question, consider your past as well as your present. It is important to touch upon both to showcase your skills over an extended period. Before the interview, be sure to carefully read the job description. Once you have a handle on the requirements, think about skills you acquired in your past roles and identify recent stories that demonstrate them.  Additionally, highlight how your current role has prepared you for the new position. For example, discuss the responsibilities that you currently manage as well as the daily tasks and skillsets that will help you transition into the new role.

According to Robert Half, when putting together your self-summary, or elevator pitch, you must prepare a short script that highlights your relevant abilities, strengths and areas of expertise. Once you’ve listed these, be sure to clearly state the reason you decided to apply for the job. During this step, be sure to stay focused on career-related motivations, which include more responsibilities or the desire to gain experience in new areas. Finally, explain to your interviewer what it is about this role that excites and interests you. To do so, be sure to do your homework prior to the interview. Research the company to find out more about their mission, values and goals.

Lastly, give specifics. When asked the question, consider at least three past experiences that you believe are relevant to the new position. These examples should be quantifiable in terms of time, money or people. Next, highlight your strengths in a similar manner, such as past experiences, skills and helpful traits you possess. The more specifics you can give, rather than general statements, the better. Remember, you want to be memorable in the best way.

-Dina Barabash, NASBA Content Development & Web Specialist