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

One of our readers wants to know how she should answer the dreaded, open-ended question “So, tell me about yourself?” during the interview process – especially in the post COVID-19 job market.

If you unexpectedly lost your job due to Covid-19 or you’re putting your job search on hold because you’re feeling grateful to even have one, this Q&A is for you.

It’s true the job market and economy are seeing unprecedented shifts and record amounts of unemployment across the globe.  What’s worse is the coronavirus has impacted Black and Brown communities in the US and the UK disproportionally.

This may be causing you added stress and anxiety in an already uncertain time.   So what can you do if you’re finding yourself searching for a new job?

One thing you can do to move your career forward is own your value and take action. There are organizations hiring who are looking for your expertise, soft skills, and drive – a few OYW clients have even received raises in the past three months! It’s important you feel confident going into the very first conversation of the interview process.

If you’re on the job hunt and you’re not sure of your value and impact, reach out to a colleague and ask for their support in helping you to identify your strengths and ways you contributed at work.  If you’re grateful you still have a job please reach out and support a colleague who was let go.  You can offer to help them identify their strengths by sharing the impact they made on your team so they can stand out from the crowd.

There are organizations hiring who are looking for your expertise, soft skills, and drive.  Several OYW clients have even received pay raises in the past 3 months! Click here to read their Success Stories.

Your job right now -and in any job market- is to ground yourself in the value you bring to the table based on your experience and results so you can confidently articulate it. 

So let’s dive in!

Q: How do you answer the question “tell me about yourself” during an interview?

A: Create and practice a “go-to” response in advance and customize it for the specific role you’re discussing.  It’s up to you to lead the recruiter on a journey that shares 3 key points about who you are, what you’re capable of, and why you’re looking for in a new role in about 2 minutes or less.  You’ll want to share enough information so you’re answering the question but leave your response brief enough so the interviewer can ask you more specifics about you and your background.

Here are the 3 key points to focus on in preparing a response (in advance) to answering “tell me about yourself” for an interview: 

  1. Who are you?
    Remember to share a mix of personal qualities that give a sense of who you are and what it’s like to work with you based on what you’ve heard from others.  What makes you a great colleague? Why did you choose the career path you’re in or what is it about the work you do that you love?
  2. What are you capable of?
    Share one or two specific examples of work skills and strengths you possess that have created results in a past role/project that relates to the job description of the role you’re interviewing for.
  3. Why are you looking?
    Answer this honestly but be future focused. Share why you’re on the market if it’s due to a layoff or termination and then focus on what you’re looking for in the next role. How do you want to apply your strengths to this new organization? Are you looking for an opportunity for growth, a different work culture or product, or something else?

A Worthy Response

Here’s how to practically apply the above key points to answering “tell me about yourself” in an interview.

Let’s say you’re interviewing for a digital marketing role.  You could answer the question “So, tell me about yourself” like this:

“I was impressed with your organization’s mission and website while doing my research.  I’m looking for a new opportunity that will allow me to leverage my passion for digital marketing with a company that is purpose driven.  I want to believe in the product I’m marketing.  I love analyzing data and creating relationships with potential customers based on how they prefer to consume media.  In my last role, I was responsible for a new digital marketing campaign for an online brand we launched and my boss told me that my colleagues really appreciated that I was responsive and met deadlines because they counted on me to be up front.  If there was a delay or problem I creatively problem solved and communicated changes to prevent the project from slowing down.   I am experienced managing small teams and I am collaborative when working with other departments.  I would really like to find an organization and team that values my background in marketing communications and will let me be creative in finding new solutions.  What else can I tell you?” 

It’s important to prepare your answer based on the role and organization you’ve applied to.

One final tip: end your response with the question – “what else can I tell you”?  Give the recruiter the opportunity to ask a specific question that will help you dive into your background and strengths in more detail.  This will help you better understand what they really want to know!