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Common Interview Question: Tell Me a Little About Yourself

Post Author Sarah Chatelain
Mar 31, 2014 10:22:00 AM
Career Tips


One of the most popular ways for a potential employer to begin a job interview is to ask you to divulge a few facts about yourself. This question can be quite frustrating, as it is never clear just what kinds of facts you should include, and how long your answer should be. Does your interviewer care that your ukulele band from college managed to produce an album and sold approximately 100 copies (including family)? Or that you once read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick cover to cover in under a week? While these can both be remarkable achievements on their own merits, they may not be the specific personal details that will help get you the job you are interviewing for. Here are a few tips to help you effectively answer this question.

1. Have an answer ready 

Since this is such a typical question, there is no excuse for you to not have an answer prepared ahead of time. If you respond with something such as, “What do you want to know?” the interviewer will not only see that you did not appropriately plan for the interview, but also that you are indecisive and unsure of your own accomplishments. When you prepare your answer, make sure that you only include facts that are relevant and advertise your experience that qualifies you for the job.

2. You don’t have to condense your entire life story into a five minute answer

Don’t try to say too much in a short amount of time. Only focus on a couple of points that are relevant to the job, and that you can thoroughly explain in five minutes or less. Unless you are interviewing for a job in a music store, your experience in a ukulele band probably won’t help you get a job. However, you can discuss your role in managing the band’s budget, or your role in marketing the album, if you lack other pertinent details. If you can clearly and concisely cover one or two items, you will show yourself to be prepared, controlled and focused on the important details.

3. Rehearse it several times

As with all of your interview questions, you should rehearse your answer beforehand. This will give you a good idea of how long it will take to deliver, and make your presentation more confident. Remember, you don’t want to talk so much that the interviewer’s attention strays away.  Stay short and to the point.

“Tell me about yourself,” can be one of the most difficult questions to answer in an interview. However, with prudent planning and rehearsal of your answer, you can successfully promote the various qualities you have to offer and pique the interviewer’s interest to pay attention for the duration of the interview, and ultimately getting that much closer to snagging the job!

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