How To Answer The “Tell Me About Yourself” Job Interview Question

“Tell me about yourself” is often the opening question of many interviews. How you answer can determine the direction and success of the rest of the interview. Although it seems easy to answer at first glance, this question can lead you into places you may not want to go. Practicing this question can help you set a tone for your interviews and help you land the job.

Keep The Job Interview Professional

When potential employees hear the question “Tell me about yourself”, they are often caught off guard and begin talking about who they are in their personal life rather than their professional one. This is a big mistake for a lot of reasons. You don’t want to give employers any personal information they aren’t required to have that could potentially cost you the job.

Besides that, from the onset of the interview you’ll want to be talking about your professional qualifications and how they make you a perfect fit for the job. Employers don’t need to know about your hobbies, your marital status, and whether or not you have children. Months down the line when you’ve got the job they’ll know all about it. For now, focus on telling them all about how great of a worker you are and how your skills make them a better company.

How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself

When you are asked this question, answer it more like you’ve been asked what you’ve been doing for work for the past five years. Reshaping this question to ask about the professional you rather than the personal you can help as well.

If you’ve had work in the same industry for some time then you’ll start out by mentioning how long you’ve been in the industry and what positions you’ve held. Have you started from the bottom and worked your way up? Maybe you haven’t risen as much as remained a constant in your particular department, creating consistency and quality over a large span of time. What’s the overall theme been of your work at each job? Try to describe these details with keywords from the job listing.

If you haven’t had consistent work or the work you’ve done hasn’t always been in the same industry, you’ll want to emphasize the varied knowledge and skills you’ve picked up along your way. These skills should be hand picked from job listings in your research.

In general, you’ll want to think about delivering a one and a half to three minute speech that covers what you’ve been doing for work over the past few years. You can think of your answer as an enticing summary of your resume. You’ll have the rest of the interview to expand on your skills, but in the beginning you’ll need to make sure they want to keep listening.

Sample Answer to Tell Me About Yourself

Below is a sample answer to this question if I were to pursue another teaching position as I’ve held before. Remember that your answer will most likely be a bit longer than this, as you’ll want to hit on key topics or words that were stressed in the skills they’re looking for in their job listing:

Hello my name is Joshua Brown and for the past five years I’ve been in the business of helping people; both in the finance and education industries. For the past three years I’ve been helping people find new jobs. I’ve taught in the technical college system, working with students on developing resumes, cover letters, and other topics that deal professionalism in the workplace. I have also worked in schools helping students prepare for their job search. In these positions, I worked with employers and students alike to create hiring partnerships. Most recently in my professional career, I’ve created a website called where everyone has access to tools such as informational articles, resume templates, and other job search resources. I am able to use the skills I have learned from my past experience to provide your students with a preparedness that allows them to pursue their career and job search with amazing confidence.

Your answer shouldn’t skimp on praise for yourself. Remember that you’ll go over your past accomplishments through the interview, just whet their appetite for now.

How To End Your Tell Me About Yourself Answer

In my opinion, three minutes is about as long as you want to go. As you practice, to a friend or into the mirror, try and recognize when your tone becomes monotonous. You can make the answer longer but your tempo, rhythm, and enthusiasm must be just right to talk at length for any one stretch of time.

One tip I’ve always liked to use when ending an interview answer is to repeat the question at the end of my answer. When you don’t properly end an answer, the interviewer may not know you are done answering and sit there and stare at you. Instead, just repeat the question. For example, once you’ve come to what you’re doing currently and how you can help the company, just say, “…And that’s a little bit about myself.” This let’s the interviewer know you’re done and to ask the next question. It also helps to create a rhythm for the interview that will hopefully carry through to the end.

Closing Tips and Tricks

When you practice this question, don’t be scared if your answers are different each time. Your answers shouldn’t be straight memorization anyway. As long as you cover key topics from your past experience that show your value to the future company then you will be fine. The hope is that you have plenty of examples from past jobs to use throughout the interview anyways. But fair warning: if you tease a big claim in the opening of your interview, be ready to talk in detail about it. You don’t want to be caught off guard or appear as though you’re making something up.

Tell Me About Yourself Example Questions

They may ask some other variation of this question such as, “Tell me about your past experience.” or “What have you been doing the past five years?”. Regardless of how they ask the question, they are really just trying to understand how we see the job, ourselves, and how we value our work.

How To Answer Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question

Example Tell Me About Yourself Answers

How Not To Answer Tell Me About Yourself


How to Answer TMAY

How Long Should My Answer be?