Interview Tips: How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

“Tell me about yourself” is a typical job interview question that causes fear and loathing in many job candidates. In my experience, the underlying question that the interviewer really wants you to answer is, “Why should I hire you for this job?”  The “tell-me” question provides an excellent opportunity for you to craft an answer that illustrates how your skills and experience make you an excellent fit for the open position.

Here’s one example of how you might answer the “tell-me” question. Let’s say you’re interviewing for a new products job with a company known for its creativity, you might say, “I’m a creative problem solver, and it seems that whatever I do – at work or at home, I brainstorm at least 10 different approaches to solving a problem.  Then I figure out which one will get me the best results.  So, for example, when I launched X product, my two top tactical choices were Blah 1 and Blah 2.  I ended up running with Blah 2 because, even though it had never been done before, after I ran some data, I believed it would reach the younger target users in meaningful way.  That approach increased sales 8%, well above the target 5%. I love getting results in new and different ways; it’s fun for me.”

Get the idea?  You can add more details or give another example of your creative problem solving style. In any event, be sure to answer with confidence and enthusiasm and prepare beforehand. Know as much about the company and with whom you will be interviewing prior to your meeting.

My second recommendation is to have a few different answers ready for this question and craft your answer according to the interviewer in the room and the company culture.  Please note that I am not suggesting that you make things up.  That is never acceptable!  However, you can vary your response based on your experiences.  Using the same answer with each interviewer is always an option, but consider that different people at the hiring company may have different interests and skill levels in your area. For example, if you are interviewing cross functionally (e.g. you are seeking a marketing position, but you are talking to all senior management), the CFO may be just as interested in your ability to be financially responsible as he or she is in your marketing expertise.  Or, if you are interviewing with a savvy tech person, versus an old-school banker, you may want to choose an illustration that speaks more directly to that person’s skills and interests.  Knowing your audience is not manipulation; it’s smart communication.

Want to be more memorable with your answer? Scott Ginsberg , aka “The Nametag Guy,” wrote an article on TheLadders.com website giving ten creative angles you can use to answer the “tell-me” question in a memorable way. He suggests:

  1. “I can summarize who I am in three words…”
  2. “The quotation I live my life by is…”
  3. “My personal philosophy is…”
  4. “People who know me best say that I’m…”
  5. “Well, I googled myself this morning, and here’s what I found…” (My note: This can be dangerous – make sure you know what the hiring company will find if they try it,  and that it illustrates what you want them to know!)
  6. “My passion is…”
  7. “When I was seven years old, I always wanted to be…”
  8. “If Hollywood made a movie about my life, it would be called…”
  9. “Can I show you, instead of tell you?” Then, pull something out of your pocket, or show a   portfolio that represents who you are.
  10. “The compliment people give me most frequently is…”

I like these openers if you feel comfortable using one of them and if the opener allows you to achieve your ultimate goal:  communicating effectively to your interviewer that you are a terrific fit for the position.

For more career resources, check out TheLadders.com.   Free registration gives you access to basic services and some good articles. Based in New York City, TheLadders.com, Inc. is a privately held company offering premier online job search destinations and content for the $100k+ sector of the employment market.

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Date: Monday, 2. May 2011 3:57
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1 Comment

  1. 1

    This is the most frequently asked questions. Don't blab about yourself here like your name, etc. Don't tell them whats on your resume already and just make it quick coz you might be blabbing and they will find a hole for you to not get hired.

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