“Tell me about yourself” is one of the first job interview questions you’ll face. Sounds innocent enough, right? But what you say in that first minute of your meeting sets the tone and influences the interviewer’s first impression of you. (S)he is judging your ability to communicate and build rapport, and measuring your level of confidence.
This question is NOT an invitation to share your life story. It IS an opportunity to share a quick summary of your career, add key differentiating strengths and attributes, and sprinkle in a few personal details that display a holistic picture of yourself.
Before you go into your next job interview…
Prepare a one-minute overview that may include a few personal data points, such as where you’re from, your academic background, and your interests. Then briefly highlight your career path and any specific achievements or credentials that pertain to the job or that you feel will resonate.
Here are a few examples of job interview answers to the question “Tell me about yourself…”
VP Software Sales
This person jumps right into a quick summary and then immediately talks about their strengths that are aligned with the position:
“I got my start in software working for a small startup, which has since been acquired and become a $2B industry leader in enterprise applications. I was regularly promoted from sales rep to my current VP role within 6 years. During that time, I earned my MBA. I was energized to hear that you were looking for someone to grow a high-performing sales organization, because aside from being a high-performing sales person, my main strengths lie in team motivation and leadership and strategic planning. Please let me know if you’d like me to expand or if I’ve left anything out that would be of interest to you.”
Regional Healthcare Operations Manager
This person adds some personal details that are relevant to their chosen field and mentions a career pivot:
“I’m from a family where both of my parents were physicians, and so I felt destined to work in healthcare in some capacity. My first job out of college was as a caseworker at a nonprofit hospital. After a few years, I decided I wanted to focus on the business of healthcare and eventually became a manager for 7 programs.”
“Most recently, I’ve been the regional operations manager for a five-hospital network managing multi-million-dollar budgets and overseeing 100 staff. I also stay actively involved in my community through board roles and hands-on service.”
Recent College Grad in Physical Therapy
This is an entry-level job seeker, so they included a bit more detail on their college experience and internships:
“I’m a native Oregonian and grew up on a large wheat ranch, which is where I developed a strong work ethic from an early age. I went to the University of Washington, majoring in kinesiology. While in school, I took every opportunity to volunteer to gain more hands-on knowledge in the field.”
“I’ve completed double the required hours of observations in 5 clinics and have been a full-time assistant in 2 offices. I’m now almost finished with my DPT at St. Augustine and look forward to working with patients specializing in neurological rehabilitation.”
All of these responses give just a snapshot of these 3 candidates, yet highlight impressive accomplishments that allow the interviewer either a) the ability to dive more deeply into any of their points or b) use the remaining 59 minutes to get all of their questions answered.
How do you answer “Tell me about yourself?” Do you add any personal details or keep it strictly professional?
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketer dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job!
Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.