Interview Tips: “Tell me about yourself”
Of all the open-ended questions you’ll receive in interviews, this question is the most ambiguous—for good reason. Interviewers aren’t just looking for you to sell yourself and explain why you’re a strong candidate for the position; they’re also testing how well you can structure a response out of ambiguity and condense a lot of information into a two-minute story. To succeed in this question, share how your experiences have shaped you into a perfect candidate for the company.
Tell a clear, compelling story that highlights significant experiences in your life that has lead you to this moment, where you’re sitting in front of the interviewer answering this question.
An effective answer requires that you “step outside” yourself to objectively reflect on your life, then respond with the passion only you yourself could have. The ultimate goal is to have a story attached to your name that elegantly captures exactly who you are.
- Tell a concise, cohesive story highlighting the achievements in your life.
- Show how your experiences make you the perfect candidate for the company.
- Highlight a specific experience that makes you stand out above everyone else.
- Be passionate and energetic about yourself; even a fun story is boring if you tell it in a monotone and impersonal voice.
- Keep your answer within 2 minutes.
- Begin with your name, birth place and where you grew up.
- Highlight anything significant about your hometown that has shaped you into the person you are today and lead you to choose a career with the company and its industry
- Discuss your education.
- Explain why you chose your major and what skills that major offers
- Show how your background has lead you to choose your major
- Explain how this university and major fits into your life goals
- Talk about the “experience that started it all.”
- Pinpoint the important experience that started you down this professional path
- Discuss the context and outcomes of this event, and why it was so transformative
- Tell a chronological story that builds upon this experience.
- Discuss work experience, leadership, campus activities and projects that built on the experience that started it all
- The key is to develop a narrative that grew out of that moment and led to who you are today
- Emphasize your interests and passions.
- Share your unique interests and passions that make you stand out above everyone else
- Talk about other experiences that don’t fit into the traditional professional/academic story, but do add to your profile
- This is a great place to establish common ground with the interview in order to establish a personal relationship
Pitfalls You Must Avoid
- Do not get too comfortable and over step your boudaries. Keep religion, ethnicity, and politics out of the conversation. You want to speak in a conversational but professional manner.
- Do not talk about your high school experiences. Unless “the experience that started it all” happened in high school, leave it out.
- Do not babble, jump from topic to topic, or start sharing your experiences like a laundry list. You want to form all this information into a coherent, structured story that you can tell in two minutes.