3 Tips to Perfect Your Answer to "Tell Me About Yourself" in an Interview

By Amanda Cohen on August 8, 2019

Even if you are super polite, amazing with conversation, and thrive in high-pressure situations, interviews are challenging. You can go on various websites like GlassDoor to figure out what you will be asked in your upcoming interview with a particular company, but there is one question that is extremely hard to prepare for: the elusive “tell me about yourself” question. You know everything about you, yet this question always sparks trepidation in anyone it comes across.

There are so many incredibly interesting and unique things about you, yet the direction you take this question can go a variety of ways. Do you make it personal? Do you stick to stuff in your resume? Do you talk about your interest in your puppy’s Instagram account? What do you talk about? Don’t worry, I’m here to help you. As someone who has been in a bunch of interviews, I have a list of tips to help you impress your interviewer when they ask you to tell them about yourself.

Image via. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/resume-cv-hr-job-experience-2296951/

Tip #1: Don’t Talk Off of your Resume

Your interview is already going to ask you tons of questions about past work experience and your educational career; plus, they have your resume right in front of them. Don’t talk about stuff that they can read off of a piece of paper.

Talk about who you are and what makes you stand out from the thousand other applicants who have very similar work and educational experiences as you do. Talk about your passions, your skills, what makes you who you are outside of the office. Don’t be afraid to show them who you really are; the bottom line is you don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t accept you for who you are, so tell them everything they need to know to get to know the real you.

Tip #2: Don’t Lie

I cannot stress this enough. Lying always comes back to bite you in the ass, so don’t do it. If you want to make up some elaborate story about your service trip to South America, Africa, Chicago, or wherever, it’s not worth it because you will get caught in the lie at some point. If you lie, you are giving the interviewer a vision of you that isn’t true, and that’s a waste of their time and yours. You can exaggerate if you really want to, but even then, it’s a slippery slope to walk.

Sometimes, it’s hard to not accidentally let a lie slip, but, as we will talk about in tip #3, if you prepare enough, a slip of the tongue won’t happen, or even if it does it will happen a lot less. If you accidentally let a lie slip, don’t panic and backtrack on your story, just completely move on from the subject at hand. People make mistakes, don’t stress.

Image via. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/checklist-business-workplace-3679741/

Tip #3: Prepare Like you Would for Any Other Questions

It may seem like, since the “tell me about yourself” question isn’t about the company, that you don’t have to prepare, but this is not the case. If you want to prevent accidentally lying or talking off your resume, then prepare for the question like it were any other question in the interview.

How do you prepare? Write something out as if the question were in short-answer form. Come up with a few different answers and just rewrite them multiple times for a few hours. After this, read them out loud and practice in front of a mirror. If you are worried about sounding robotic, instead of writing out a script, just jot down some bullet points and practice different variations of what you want to say. If you aren’t even at the point of knowing what to say, bounce ideas off of your friends, family, colleagues, etc. and write down lists of options. However, I would try your best to keep the answer short and sweet; sometimes less is more.

These three tips are going to ensure that you impress your interviewer (or interviewers) with your answer when asking to tell them about yourself. If you are still worried, even after following these tips, then let me remind you of one thing: just be yourself. You will get nervous, you may say “um” or “like” a few times and that’s okay.

Perfection isn’t possible: just try your best to show the company the best version of yourself possible. Remember, if you need time to think, that’s okay. Take a breath, take a second to pause, and then answer. If you rush into it, you may not sound as eloquent and you may stumble over your words a lot more. In addition, if you find yourself rambling, take a breath and formulate a final sentence (a closing sentence is a great thing to have prepared beforehand so it’s always in your back pocket). Good luck, I know you will kill your interview!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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