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“Tell me about yourself” is undoubtedly one of the most frequently asked job interview questions and might be asked in different ways, such as:
But they all demand the same answers, and whether you are a student, fresh graduate or experienced professional, practice on answering the “tell me about yourself” question is important in making you stand out amongst the other interviewees, eventually increasing your chance of getting the job.
Introducing myself in an interview might sound easy and straightforward, except you’re not quite sure how much to share, how to structure your short self introduction and you feel like simply presenting your best achievements would sound like you’re bragging.
To help you prepare for this question, this article will talk about all the basic must-knows on answering the “tell me about yourself” question; including why recruiters ask this interview question, what to include in your answers, as well as 15 “Tell me about yourself” example answers for different roles.
“Tell me about yourself” in job interviews are asked by interviewers for various reasons, but for one ultimate goal of the interview, which is to know if you're a good fit for the position.
Similar to self-introduction in any social events, introducing yourself is the most logical way to start a conversation with strangers – and in interviews, the interviewers. They could ask this to make you feel more comfortable. On the other hand, “walk me through your resume” is asked to get a quick review of your CV and who you are as a candidate for the job.
During an interview, the recruiters do not know who you are. Asking you “Tell me something about yourself” makes much more sense in this context. Following your answers, the recruiters will be able to generate follow-up questions or ask for elaborations on certain parts they would like to know more about.
How you structure your short self introduction and how you present yourself will reflect whether you are comfortable in expressing your thoughts clearly and professionally. Additionally, making a connection between the role and your answer to the “tell me about yourself” interview question will help recruiters highlight that you are indeed a good match for the job.
“Tell me about yourself” is sure to appear in a job interview, and by preparing well for it, the recruiters will know your enthusiasm for this job, which will highly increase your chance of obtaining that position you’re applying for!
After understanding why interviewers ask the “Tell me about yourself” question, you should know the following 5 basic elements that can be included in your answer. Keep in mind that no matter what element you are sharing with the recruiters, you should only pick the ones that are relevant to the role’s requirements, while directly answering the question.
5 things you should mention when answering “Tell me about yourself”:
When answering the “Tell me about yourself” question, it makes the most sense to bring up your past work experience. Share related jobs you’ve done in the past and elaborate details that match the job description. To increase accountability, share your achievements and results that you have achieved and make sure to use figures whenever possible.
When asked to introduce yourself in an interview, sharing your personal traits might seem too personal, and you might worry that you would come off as unprofessional. However, by supporting your personal traits with real examples and stories, you can further differentiate yourself amongst other interviewees. For example, you can share how you are an excellent communicator or an efficient team player through your past experiences.
Using strategy when introducing yourself in an interview is especially effective for those who are transitioning to other industries. You may have done other jobs with different titles, but you also have honed the skills essential to the new role. Pay attention to what is written in ‘what we’re looking for’ or ‘preferred qualifications’ on the job description, as those are the most important skills required to fulfill the job responsibilities.
Aside from walking the recruiters through your resume, your previously done projects will be beneficial to you as it will shine light on your interest in a certain field, as well as show that you are self-motivated to learn new things. You could prepare a portfolio and show it to the interviewer(s). It’s even better if you helped a real organization achieve a certain goal through your projects.
Sharing to the recruiters your volunteer activities when introducing yourself during an interview highlights commitment and loyalty, especially if you have been helping a good cause for a more extended period of time. Additionally, this could also give the recruiters what you care about on a more individual level. If you volunteered in groups, this could also illustrate that you are comfortable getting things done alongside team members, which is important in almost any job.
When asked the daunting, open-ended “Tell me something about yourself” interview question, keep in mind that there is a simple, most common way to structure your answer, that is:
However, if you have taken a more directly related job a few years before your more recent role, use the past, present, future format ro explain how you transitioned to different roles, while highlighting the skills you have picked up that could help with the new position that you’re applying for.
The question “Tell me about yourself”, especially for freshers, could be daunting, as you’re not yet experienced. But worry not, we have covered some tips for you when answering the “Tell me about yourself” question.
Doing this when introducing yourself in an interview can help recruiters remember you amongst all the interviewees. Be mindful to share only stories that include or can lead to prove your personal traits. Steer clear from stories that are too personal like your dog’s name, or sensitive information like race and politics.
Always express your eagerness to help the company grow through the role you’re aiming for when you introduce yourself in an interview. Highlight that taking on the job aligns with your professional goals, and that you’re willing to contribute through the position both for yourself and the company.
Most might think that “Tell me about yourself” for students is more similar to a casual self introduction. This is a common misconception. Be sure to research the goal of the company and position requirements before the job interview. Connect your past experience as much as possible to the new role through the 5 elements mentioned in the previous section, and also show that you come to the interview well prepared.
Recruiters could also feel drained from the other work or interviews that they have to do before and after your interview. In the job interview, your answer to “Tell me about yourself” should be 1-2 minutes long, and practice is key to achieving an effective self introduction.
Be careful to never lie in a job interview, whether intended or unintended, big or small. To prevent such mistakes, make sure to prepare a good explanation for your career gaps, if you have any, and whenever you’re unsure about something, explain that you forget and will send an email afterwards confirming the fact mentioned above. This could also prove that you’re a trustworthy person, which is far better than caught lying after you land the job.
As references, we also provide snippets from some “tell me about yourself” sample answers.
“I consider myself an efficient team-player. Participating in university events planning has always been fun and motivating for me. As I have worked with people of various backgrounds and numbers, I am now experienced in work division, as well as internal and external communications.”
“I have always been good at communicating my thoughts. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed school projects that require presentation and explanations in front of a crowd. In my high school years, after training with a public speaking trainer and enhancing my communication skills through a 2-months camp, I won a nationwide science research paper presentation competition.”
“I worked part-time as a marketing assistant during the past 6 months. After receiving training on SEO, social media management and data analysis for growth hacking, along with a team of 5, I increased the company’s reach by 32% in a year through various A/B tests in Facebook posts. I am confident that I can contribute to the company with my skills and experience in this.”
“I am a BD manager with 4 years of experience in the South East Asia Region. My responsibilities covered business development and growth strategizing. I have helped my company enter the Singapore region, increased sales by 13% using only 78% the budget used to enter a more difficult region in Indonesia.”
“I graduated from X university’s nursing department, during which I was granted a social contribution award from the city government for my active volunteering activities. Volunteering has always been a big part of my college life. Seeing how my peers and respected roles always go the extra mile to travel to other cities to care for children in need always warms my heart. The 3 years of my volunteering journey definitely motivated me to make more and bigger impacts in society.”
“I have had 2 years experience as an office assistant, where I received calls from customers who explained their problems verbally, and had to actively provide feasible solutions for them while maintaining a calm and positive tone. Thanks to my manager’s recommendation, I was awarded ‘the best call center staff’ for 7 consecutive months. With my active listening and quick problem solving skills, I am positive I can have a hand in the company’s excellent call center team.”
“Working in X company as the IT specialist for Y building for 10 years has let me encounter various system efficiency cases, starting from minor security measure compliances to functional crashes in the systems. I hope to utilize my troubleshooting skills to help Y company achieve a higher security level and help the company staff to create a safer digital environment.”
“I am John, a software engineer specializing in app development. I have done 6 personal projects with a team of 5 ranging from mockups to redesigns. I have had 1 year of experience in algorithm development and debugging with a respected mentor from the X engineering team. Even though it is my first time taking interest in working as a full-time software engineer, I am sure the teamwork and analytical skills could help the team develop the newly planned electric car app and market it on time.”
“Being a freelance designer for 2 years has honed my active listening skills. I have helped 8 clients fulfill their needs for various logo and merchandise designs. After visiting Japan to meet a Japanese client and experiencing excellent customer service firsthand, I am inspired to use my active listening skills to help the company lead the customer service team and achieve the ‘Best Customer Satisfaction’ award this year.”
“I am currently a sophomore majoring in accounting at X University. During the past 3 years, I have been actively involved in X University’s Student Board as the treasurer. Additionally, I fulfilled the role of the accountant for the annual art festival in our university for 3 consecutive years. I am interested to learn more about the accounting world, and I am sure I can contribute to the management accountant position using the accounting skills I have accumulated during my university years.”
“I am a certified pharmacist with a specialty in Critical Care. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science and administration from X University, I completed a 6 months of pharmacy internship at Y hospital. There, I received professional training in customer service, prescription verification and record. Seeing how medicine plays a very important part in patients’ health, I aim to be a pharmacist that can provide accurate solutions to patients while keeping an encouraging atmosphere whenever they visit our pharmacy.”
“I have always been passionate about education. I have extensive understanding in educating elementary to high school students in X International School, where the students come from all over the world. Aside from my full-time international teaching experience, I am also part of the ‘Teach for Good Cause’ volunteering team, where we visit schools in remote areas and help them be exposed to international cultures.”
“During the past 3 years before obtaining my business administration bachelor’s degree, I was the chief of University X’s Data Analytics Club and also did an internship in X Company. During the internship, I was actively involved in 3 major projects, produced growth proposals for 2 different clients and succeeded in increasing one of the companies’ sales by 6%. From my experience, I found out that I enjoy analyzing companies’ financial health in an objective manner. I am confident that my data analytics can greatly contribute to this business analyst position.”
“I consider myself to have a good drive in whatever I do. With a team of engineers, I had previously founded a startup to help small artists grow by connecting them with potential clients, mostly contributing with my self-learnt business development skills. The platform has helped 132 artists establish their own brand and found their loyal buyers. Even though I have never held a corporate managerial position before, I am eager to implement this skill to help Company X grow its fanbase with my experience in business development.”
“I am a business administration graduate and I have had a 3-year experience as an administrative assistant. I have helped X Company with answering incoming calls from clients, scheduling internal and external meetings, as well as welcoming guests into the company. As our clients came from countries all around the world, I am confident that my experience can help the company provide a comfortable welcome, while maintaining high efficiency in carrying out administrative duties.”
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--- Originally written by Evelyn Peng ---