How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview

The most common question you’ll be asked in an interview is “tell me about yourself.” Or some variation like “walk me through your resume” or “why are you currently looking for your next role. This is often the first question in an interview to break the ice and to get some insight into who you are. This post will dive into how to answer the tell me about yourself question in an interview, includes some tips, and some sample answers to help you better frame your own story.

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Brainstorming your answer to tell me about yourself

1. Reflect on what qualities make you a great fit for this role

Since ‘tell me about yourself’ is such a common interview question, you’ll want to take some time to think through what qualities you possess that make you an exceptional candidate. You want to think through what hard or soft skills, personality traits, and work experiences you have that could be enticing to a hiring manager. Look at the job description of the role you’re interviewing at, read over the company values, and think of ways you can package yourself to this company to help ensure you’re considered as a potential hire for them. If you’re applying to a startup, you’ll want to highlight your scrappiness, work ethic, and big results. If you’re applying for a leadership role, you’ll want to highlight how well your teams perform, your coaching style, and how you unblock people to increase effectiveness and productivity.

2. Share why you’re interested in this exact role

People love talking about themselves and hearing amazing things about themselves too. But when you’re hyping yourself up to a hiring manager, it’s important to remember to hype them up too. Tie everything back to this role. Draw the connections between what you excel at and what they need. Talk about the company values you possess organically. Highlight the skills they’re looking for. Give a soft mention to character traits they’re looking for.

3. Frame it from a past, present, and future tense

A good way to frame your answer is through a past, present, and future tense story. In the past section, you’ll talk about some of your most recent work experiences and accomplishments that helped make you qualified for this role. In your present section, you’ll talk about why you’re interviewing at this company right now. And in the future section, you’ll highlight what you hope to grow into while at this company. Are you looking for career advancement or to add new skills to your experience? Share that level of context with the hiring manager so they can assess if you’re a good fit.

tell me about yourself

Tips for answering “Tell me about yourself” in an interview

1. Be brief

Being brief doesn’t mean giving short answers, it means remembering that this is the first interview question of many so don’t go on too long talking about yourself. Only share relevant information regarding your work experiences and why you’re interviewing and what you hope to gain from the role. Keep your answer under one to two minutes in length. Talking too much about yourself can feel overwhelming to a hiring manager who is likely doing multiple interviews a day. Get to the point. This isn’t the time to tell your life story since childhood. Stick to the most recent work experiences that make you qualified for the job.

2. Share some accomplishments

Your hiring manager probably has your resume in front of them, but tying your ‘tell me about yourself’ story to some of your notable accomplishments will help jog their memory. You can share some context in how you achieved certain goals. Get them excited about your accomplishments so they can feel excited about you. Your biggest career wins should be shared passionately. After all, they’re all the amazing things you’ve done. So, you should celebrate your wins and be proud of telling people about them. Of course, you don’t want to come across as a know-it-all hot shot when interviewing, but enthusiasm will be appreciated by a hiring manager seeing several candidates in a day.

3. Rehearse your answer multiple times

Don’t memorize your answer to ‘tell me about yourself.’ But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice answering it. It’s the most common question you’ll be getting on your job search after all. This is the question to rehearse the most, feel a comfortable flow when telling it too. The reason why people bomb interviews is because they don’t take the time to practice their answers. You should spend a few days before even landing an interview practicing the common interview questions you’ll be getting during your job search. The more familiar you are with your answers, work experiences, qualifications, and so on, the more natural the conversation will flow with you and a hiring manager. Remember, you want them to see you as your equal. You don’t want to put them on a pedestal and you don’t want to be standing on one either. You should share an answer that’s authentic, friendly, and positive. You’re removing all the past traumas from layoffs, mean coworkers, toxic bosses, and so on. This is your fresh start. Create and practice an answer that accurately reflects who you are and who you hope to become while working in this new role.

4. Tailor your answer to the job

When answering the interview question “tell me about yourself” you should put an emphasis on talking about yourself instead of other people. But you still want to draw connections between who you are or what you offer and the job you’re applying to. Tailoring your answer to the company and their values will help better position you as a great fit for the team. Draw out the similarities between yourself and this posting when talking about yourself to help the hiring manager not overlook you. Remember, the hiring manager is interviewing multiple candidates at the same time. If they interview a lot of people, most people will feel like a blur to them. You’ve got to stand out to them with your story and your connection to them.

5. Understand your audience

You’ll likely have to do multiple interviews with a single company to land a job. Understand your audience when answering, tell me about yourself. A recruiter doing a screener is looking for something different than a hiring manager who works in the same industry as you. And both of those people are looking for different things than a CEO would look for. When you’re given the name of the person you’ll be meeting with, look them up on LinkedIn to see what their job title is. By doing this, you can prepare your questions, mindset, and answers to this specific person. For example, when talking to your potential future boss about yourself, you’ll want to be more technical to showcase your experience and share more accomplishments. When talking to a CEO, you’ll want to excite them about trends, data, and company values. When interviewing with a recruiter, you’ll want to talk about your competence and culture fit though you probably won’t speak as technically as you would with someone in the same field as you.

6. Remember to make a positive first impression

The more you rehearse your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ the better your interview will flow. This is the first question you’ll be asked and so it’s also one of your first impressions. If you start fumbling over your words, you’ll look like you didn’t prepare for the interview and the interviewer might not take you as seriously. You want to have a good flow on how you tell the story of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you hope to accomplish. Strive to communicate with gravitas.

7. Speak enthusiastically

Alongside the first impression, you’ll want to be enthusiastic and passionate when talking about yourself. Telling the story of your work experience and what you’ve accomplished should be a fun story you share with people. Be proud of your past work and let that enthusiasm shine in an interview. Pretend you’re telling the story of your life to a friend and you’re genuinely interested in what the past couple of years of your life have been like. Share those stories with excitement to arouse interest in everyone you tell it to.

walk me through your resume interview

What not to say when answering “Tell me about yourself” in an interview

1. Don’t speak poorly of your past employers

The tone of your interview should be positive. Speaking poorly of past employers showcases that you’re still experiencing the hardship and trauma of that last job. And if you’re trauma dumping in an interview, a hiring manager might think you’ll carry over that negative energy into their company. As a result, you might get rejected early on for sharing negative experiences.

2. Avoid speaking with a fixed mindset

Companies like hiring people with a growth mindset. A growth mindset is all about wanting to learn, being able to take feedback and improving yourself better, and being open to the idea that nothing about you is permanent and you can always be better. A fixed mindset believes you were born a certain way and that’s the way you’ll stay. If you think you can’t improve or change yourself it’s not true first off, but it also reflects poorly on you during an interview. Sharing stories of things you’ve improved upon, such as new skills or hobbies you’ve recently started learning more about can help set you apart from other candidates in a really positive way.

3. Don’t talk about your personal life

With the exception of maybe some related hobbies or cool things you like to do to challenge yourself for fun, you really don’t want to talk about your personal life when answering “tell me about yourself” in an interview. Don’t talk about your kids or your recent divorce. Avoid talking about your political affiliations, sexual orientation, or your biggest stressors in life. The tone should be positive and uplifting. You’re trying to convince someone to hire you for a job. Avoid oversharing things beyond work experiences and interesting hobbies you might have.

tell me about yourself interview question

Tell Me About Yourself Sample Answers

Looking for a similar role in a new company

“I’m a software engineer with 7 years of experience in Java, Python, and Javascript. I developed a customer management system in my last role, which helped reduce response times by 30%. I tend to get excited to work on collaborative projects with a diverse group of people who all want to learn, grow, and better serve their customers. On hack days, I tend to look at negative reviews and create fixes for problems that annoy customers. I applied to this role because of how customer-centric this company is because I get so much of my fulfillment from seeing happy customers enjoying great software.”

Looking to grow into a leadership role for the first time

“I’ve been working in sales for ten years generating over $10 million in sales for my previous employer. I’m currently looking to transition into a leadership role to help scale out a sales team. I love hyping people up, sharing technical sales knowledge, and creating strategies that look at the bigger picture of how revenue in a company can grow. I applied to this role to challenge myself to develop my leadership skills, keep morale high on a high target team, and share my sales experience with others.”

Looking to make a career transition

“I’ve spent the last three years working as an ER nurse. It didn’t feel like a good fit for me. So, I started developing new skills. I signed up for a cybersecurity program at a bootcamp and received a certificate. I also recently completed a four-month internship at a cybersecurity firm. I’ve been spending all my time watching videos about cybersecurity and following industry experts to learn as much as I can. And I’m hoping to fully transition into a full-time role in cybersecurity.”

Changing industries while staying in the same role

“I’ve spent the past five years working in ecommerce roles as a marketer but I’m hoping to transition into the job search space. It might seem like an odd switch, but I personally value helping people make money and that’s the connection for why this role interested me. In ecommerce, I was helping people make money online passively whereas in this role I hope to help people make more active income.”

New graduate looking for first job out of school

“I’ve just graduated with a philosophy degree. I spent years writing essays and sharing my thoughts with a balanced perspective and it made me realize how much fun I have writing. I’m hoping to land a role as a writer on your team to share interesting ideas and news from around the world that would be compelling to people.”

Transitioning from a corporate environment to a startup

“I’ve spent the last few years working in a large, corporate environment, but the startup world has always been a better fit for me. I’ve also been a very entrepreneurial person, so I’m always thrilled when the workload is high and the stakes are too. I tend to be really scrappy and always figure out ways of getting more done with fewer resources. I’m looking to transition back into the startup world to really make a positive impact and help grow your company.”


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Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira, Senior Writer at Huntr, brings a rich background in marketing, tech, and ecommerce to craft insightful content on job search strategies and career advancement. With experience from Super Magic Taste to Shopify, she excels in creating engaging, actionable advice for job seekers.

Nicole's expertise in SEO and content marketing, honed across diverse roles, enables her to effectively guide individuals through the complexities of the job market. Her contributions at Huntr are vital, offering readers valuable tips and strategies to navigate their professional journeys successfully, making her work an invaluable resource for job seekers everywhere.

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