The Best Way to Answer the Interview Question “Tell Me About Yourself”

Near the beginning of an interview, it’s almost a guarantee that the hiring manager is going to say, “Tell me a little about yourself.” The prompt typically serves as a form of an icebreaker, as you have a significant amount of freedom when it comes to how you respond.

However, even though this question is inevitable, nearly every professional struggles with it. Your response sets the tone for the remainder of the interview, and a subpar answer could be detrimental.

Luckily, this question doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here’s a look at the best way to respond.

Embrace Brevity

When the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, you don’t need to launch into a lengthy monologue. Instead, this introduction is supposed to be brief, comprised of just a few highlights that you don’t want the hiring manager to miss.

Make your response concise. You want to tap on each point quickly and, above all else, avoid rambling or going off on tangents. Your answer shouldn’t be unlike an elevator pitch, elegant and straightforward, so keep that concept in mind.

Don’t Focus Entirely on Work

While you can undoubtedly incorporate an overview of your career in your reply, your professional life doesn’t need to be all you discuss. You can also include a few personal details, an approach that can make you look like a well-rounded person.

For example, if you are an avid amateur photographer, it’s okay to mention it. You can also briefly discuss your volunteer activities if you work with an organization (suggesting it doesn’t divulge a part of your life you’d prefer not to share, like an affiliation with a religious or political organization). Just make sure that whatever you add to the conversation is sincere.

Showcase Cultural Fit

With a little bit of research, you can usually learn quite a bit about a company’s culture. If something in your life aligns with that culture, consider including it when you tell the hiring manager about yourself. This allows you to showcase that you’re a great fit with a real-world example.

Practice Your Response

Since your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question sets the tone for the rest of the interview, you want to be able to deliver your response with ease. To make that happen, you need to practice what you are going to say.

Consider the points you would like to touch upon and use them to create a 20- to 30-second mini-speech. Then, rehearse your answer, adjusting any spots that feel awkward, until it becomes second nature.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t also be flexible. If you happen to enter the hiring manager’s office and see that you might have something in common, like appreciation for the same sports team, feel free to adapt. Remove part of your planned response and cover that topic instead, or tack on a very short statement about the additional point if it won’t cause your response to become too long.

The goal of your answer should be to break the ice and send the meeting off in a great direction, so don’t be afraid to pivot if that change would be beneficial. If you’d like to learn more about the best way to answer various interview questions, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our recruiters today and see how our interviewing expertise can benefit you.

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