How to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question

I was unemployed for about 6 months from the time that the Covid-19 pandemic had started, aroud April 2020 until October of 2020 when I finally landed a job.

I had applied to , believe it or not, approximately 150 job postings in 180 or so days. Almost 1 job a day. Of course, some days I applied to multiple jobs while other days were barren.

I also attended job interviews in 9 companies, all online, of course. Most of the interviews that I had attended including the one where I eventually got selected, started in the typical fashion with the question “Tell me about Yourself”.

Now this is a question that I had always dreaded. Somehow, no amount of preparation and reading-up seemed to adequately prepare me for this question. I am sure that this question riles up others too.

For all of my preparation, I have almost always stuttered when answering this question. Maybe not so much when the interview was purely over the phone as opposed to over Zoom or Microsoft Teams where you can see the facial expressions of the interview panel.

I had googled various interview sites, read up HR articles etc. on this simple question and had received, sometimes, conflicting advice. Some articles advice you to start from your undergraduate degree and progress towards your past job experience culminating in your most recent job experience.

Other ask you to start with the most recent experience and work your way backwards. All this confused the hell out of me and I almost always faltered. I consoled myself every time that I would “make it up” with the other questions, both general and technical.

But this question is an important barometer for interviewers to get a good sense of who you are and how you present yourself. “The first impression is the best impression”, so they say.

No wonder that “tell me about yourself answer” is one of the most googled questions by job seekers. Another one is the “biggest strength interview question”. “Weaknesses for job interview” is another one.

Tell me about yourself

From my experience, what I would suggest to prospective job seekers is to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in the below fashion:

1. Briefly summarize your past experience using professional words, phrases and metrics to communicate your value.
Talk about your strengths and past successes in a convincing way.

2. Tell them how, based on the above, you are a good fit for the position.

3. You could end it with a personal touch about any extra-curricular activity like volunteering that you have been involved in. You could even tell them about your hobbies but not get too much into your personal life.

I feel that the above strategy works in most cases.

Of course, you could always give a prepared answer. There are many websites where you can find material for preparation for your job interview like  https://www.hws.edu/academics/career/pdfs/intvq.pdf

The one that found most useful was a website called https://job-interview-answers.com/ . They provide real world examples for you to be ready for what the interview panel has for you.

These job interview websites not only teach you on how to answer questions but also guides you on follow up emails after the interview.

In summary, if you get this question right at the start of the interview, it increases your confidence manifold and the rest of the interview usually is a breeze.

At least that has been my experience.

Good Luck !!

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