How to answer "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews?

One of the most common questions in a job interview is, "Tell me about yourself." Let’s look at the best and smartest ways to answer this question.



Table of Contents

  1. How to answer "Tell me about yourself"?
    1. The 'Tell me about yourself' interview question
    2. 5 Tips for answering ‘Tell me about yourself
    3. 'Tell me about yourself' sample answers
    4. Talking about yourself on your CV
  2. FAQ: "Tell me about yourself"

How to answer "Tell me about yourself"?

Nearly all job interviews across industries share one common interview question: "Tell me about yourself." Employers ask this icebreaker question as an open-ended question to get a better sense of each candidate and their current role.

On this page, we'll cover five smart ways to answer "tell me about yourself," regardless of the industry you're applying for. We'll also cover what not to say when answering this question in addition to providing other helpful interview tips.

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The 'Tell me about yourself' interview question

The first thing that you need to know is that this question can be posed in a variety of ways. One of the variations may be, “tell me about your background.” However this question is worded, don’t take it lightly. It’s important to prepare your answer for the following reasons:

  • It shows you’ve given thought to your background, career and what you want.
  • It shows you’ve taken the time to consider strengths and achievements that relate to the job you’re applying for.
  • It shows you’re capable of presenting yourself well and answering questions in a concise way.

A well-prepared answer to “tell me about yourself” examples can improve a job seeker’s chances of getting hired, as it helps set the tone for the rest of the interview. To reinforce your answer to this question, we suggest that you also paraphrase the answer to this question in the summary section of your CV. If you need help writing a CV summary or crafting a professional CV, our CVHelp CV builder can help you build an effective CV in minutes!

5 Tips for answering ‘Tell me about yourself

The perks of commonly asked questions, such as “Tell me about yourself,” is that you can effectively prepare for it in advance. This will help you greatly as this is typically the opening question of the interview. A strong answer can set the stage for a successful interview. Here are five tips to help you craft the most effective answer to this question:

  1. Think of your answer in terms of past, present and future

    Tell the interviewer where you’ve been in your career, where you are now and where you want to go. This allows you to share your past and current experience while giving an optimistic glimpse into your career goals. This is a good opportunity to show how great it would be for the company you are interviewing with to be part of your future career plan.

  2. Pinpoint specific skills or achievements that best represent you

    Think of this part of your answer in terms of how each relates to the job role that you are applying for. This is your chance to set a great first impression, so be ready to share your most accomplished career highlights and best skills.

  3. Show the interviewer what excites you

    What has motivated you in your career? What gets you up in the morning? Your answers show how those passions will be transferred to your performance of the required job responsibilities. Your enthusiasm will also demonstrate your passion for the company and your career path.

  4. Know what topics to avoid

    Keep the answer to this question strictly business-related. Do not discuss personal topics, politics or religion. A well-prepared job candidate will answer this question without hesitation, sticking to career highlights. You can always gradually add more personal answers as the interview goes on, but only when applicable.

  5. Practise your answers before the interview

    It’s always a good idea to practise your answers to the most common job interview questions ahead of time. Rehearse in front of a mirror, make a video, or ask an objective person to evaluate your interview skills. Work on both your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. This would include good posture, eye contact, hand gestures and presenting with a relaxed delivery.

    Conclude your answer by explaining your current job and why you’re looking for a new job — specifically this particular job.

'Tell me about yourself' sample answers

So now that you’ve seen our guidelines and tips for answering this question, you may wonder what an answer to this question actually looks like.

Here are “tell me about yourself” sample answers for three common situations interviewees may find themselves in:

  • Experienced candidate:

    “I graduated in 2015 from Florida State University, then interned with Disney, where I was later offered a junior account executive position. I loved the dynamic work environment and working with some of the company’s top clients, which helped me improve my communication, negotiation and account management skills. I left and took a similar position at Universal Studios, where I worked for five years and managed the accounts of seven clients worldwide. Now, I’m ready to take my career to the next level as a senior account executive.”

  • Inexperienced candidate:

    “I graduated from Rollins College nine months ago with a communications major. I chose that field because of my love for writing, public speaking and broadcasting. My academic highlights include radio broadcasting, where I worked at the college radio station and landed my first internship at WABC and developed my on-air presentation, producing and news reporting skills.”

  • Job candidate changing career fields:

    “For seven years, I have worked as the front office clerk of DeLand Elementary School. At the same time, I attended college online to achieve my degree in elementary education. I am now ready to use my educational experience and my long-term work experience in the front office to the next level as an elementary school teacher.”

Talking about yourself on your CV

Describing yourself on your CV is equally as important as selling yourself during a job interview. In fact, it’s a strong CV that actually helps a job candidate land a job interview in the first place. Take a few moments to be sure your CV will help you stand out from the competition.

  • Professional summary or objective

    Below your CV heading, a CV summary or CV objective statement will provide an overview of your top skills and accomplishments. Think of this as a short introduction to you as a job candidate.

  • Hard skills and soft skills

    Your skills are a great way to describe how you are qualified for the job role. Feature the hard skills and soft skills that match the keywords listed on the job description to help your CV through the applicant tracking system (ATS). Hard skills are the technical skills you need to perform a specific job. Soft skills are the interpersonal skills and personal traits you bring to the job.

  • Work experience

    This section of your CV is where you feature career highlights, not mundane everyday job tasks. Include your most relevant experience with brief bullet points that summarise your accomplishments. Specifying metrics from your professional experience demonstrates how your skills achieved tangible results.

    The CV builder is the best and quickest way to create your own job-specific CV, using professional CV templates and step-by-step expert guidance.

More job interview tips and advice

CVHelp also has many other resources to help you prepare for an interview.

FAQ: "Tell me about yourself"

Q: What does “tell me about yourself” mean?

This question is intended to yield an answer describing who you are in terms of your career history not personally. It’s asked in just about every job interview among every industry, a great interview starter question. Your “tell me about yourself” answer can help you stand out from other candidates.

Q: How do you introduce yourself in an interview?

Introduce yourself by tailoring your interview question answers to the role and company you’re interviewing for. When an interviewer asks, “tell me about yourself,” the employer is usually looking to hear about yourself as it relates to the position and their company, not about your personal life.

Q: What are your strengths?

While your soft skills and hard skills are a great way to highlight your strengths, read the job description carefully to see what the employer is looking for. To stand out among other candidates, be sure the strengths that you mention at your job interview match the job qualifications and requirements of the job role that you are interviewing for.

Q: Why do interviewers ask this question?

Companies ask this question because they want candidates to offer insight into their past work experience, goals and priorities. This helps them get a clearer picture of each candidate.

Q: How shouldn't you answer this question?

Your answer to the “tell me about yourself interview question should remain professional and work-related. Avoid the temptation to answer the question with information about your personal life story. Keep your answer concise as you would word it for an “elevator pitch” where you quickly summarise your background and strengths.

Q: What are some similar questions that interviewers ask?

Some common questions that interviewers ask that are similar are:

  • Could you walk me through your CV?
  • Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your CV.

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