Tell Me About Yourself, Not Your Life Story November 1, 2018

Tell Me About Yourself, Not Your Life Story

“Tell us about yourself.”

“Tell me something about yourself.”

“Let’s start by hearing a little more about you.”

There’s one basic interview question that employers will always love starting out with – “Tell me about yourself.” 

Do you have an answer for it? If it includes anything about your personal life, it’s time to rethink your interviewing strategy.

As one of the most popular interview questions in the history of meeting people, it’s no surprise that this simple conversation starter sets up a very quick screening process for the interviewer. For some reason, as a species, we tend to avoid conversations that involve us talking, or even bragging, about ourselves. Why is that? This instinctual response leads us into a frenzy when the question is asked, leaving us completely blank – or worse – talking about irrelevant information. Hiring managers can quickly sort out serious candidates just based on how you respond to the very first question! Don’t worry – your favorite career sidekick, Skillgigs, has a simple one-two-three formula for answering this dreaded question like a pro. Keep reading for how to answer “tell me about yourself.”

Cover Letter? Check. Resume? Check. You’ve now made it to the last big step – interviewing.

Your interview is your official first impression. You want it to be a great one, don’t you? This is why this article is completely focused on the very first question you’ll most likely be asked. Whether it’s over the phone, over video conference, or in person, it’s imperative for you to have a quick, yet detailed response prepared. So the next time you schedule an interview, make sure you have these three things checked off your list.

Your Specs

Start out by organizing your thoughts. Your interviewer does not need to know how many pets you have, that you like hiking, where you’re from, or even what your last gig had you doing. Focus on how your experience best fits the role you are applying for, and what traits you possess that make you a strong candidate for the position. This information will help you compile your answer in a way that best highlights your strengths.

Your Lines

Physically write out your answer. Include all of the insights you made when you refocused your attention to details that pertained to the position. Let’s make an interviewee up, for demonstration purposes.

Meet John, a software engineer applying to an opening for Facebook. Here’s an example of what to say when an interviewer asks about yourself:

“I have been been developing mobile apps for the past five years. I am very proficient in working within Android, as well as iOS. My other primary skills include Objective C and ReactJS. One reason I particularly enjoy this business, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job, I was able to improve the front-end architecture and was able to save the company $2.05 million in revenue.

Now address your strengths and abilities:

“My real strength is my attention to UX design. Meeting project deadlines and following through on assignments are very important to me. Once I commit to something, I work hard to get it done and done on time.”

Now talk about what led you to this interview.

“At this point in my career, I am looking for a company that values customer experience, where I can join a strong, like-minded team and have a positive impact on people’s lives by creating the perfect application. 

Your Confidence

With anything, confidence comes with practice. Once you have your response, it’s important to practice it say prior to walking into the meeting. Your lines should be considered more like guidelines, rather than an exact script because you want it to flow naturally with the conversation. If you memorize your answer and recite it, you open yourself to two possibilities: (1) you come off sounding like a bad/beginner salesman or (2) you forget one of your lines and it throws you off for the rest of your answer. The best way to practice is to talk to people you know. Call someone and ask them to have a practice interview. In fact, call a bunch of people. The best way to practice interview questions is to have someone interview you. This also helps you prepare your answers for any follow-up questions. The more you answer the question, the more confident you’ll be in the interview.

Liked this article? There’s more! Click here to download our free interview prep guide for even more help with preparing for a big interview. Sign-up on Skillgigs for even more career tips and resources like this.