How to Answer the "Tell me About Yourself" Question During an Interview
You've been asked to tell the interviewer about yourself. It's a question that can be difficult to answer, but with some preparation, it doesn't have to be. It's one of the more popular ones during interviews - so let's take a look at what it means, and how you can prepare for it!
Why do you have to "Tell the recruiter about yourself"
The tell me about yourself question is asked to find out more information on your work history, personality and skills. You should try to answer the question in a way that shows you have researched the company, are enthusiastic about their products or services and will be able to fit into the team. It's often one of the first questions you will have to answer and it's the perfect opportunity to stay on top of mind during the recruitment process! But you have to prepare well for it.
How can you prepare?
First thing's first - preparation is key! As we mentioned before, recruiters ask this question because employers want someone who fits with them as well as has relevant experience for the position. It's good to mention 3 points in your answer, that is:
- Past - tell them what you've done in the past, your education, and work experience that relates to the job. Mention your biggest achievement or anything that you are proud of.
- Present - say a few sentences about what you do today, tell about things that are related to this particular job/company (e.g., if they are an engineering company focus on your technical skills like programming languages). You can mention your hobby, family or things that can show what type of person you are.
- Future - tell the recruiter about your ambitions and plans for the next years. Think about what you want in the future and how that can be achieved with this job.
Remember that it's one of the first questions and your response shouldn't be too long. It's good to prepare before the interview to focus only on the most important points, there is no need to talk about all the things you do in your free time. The same goes for future plans, we all have dreams and goals but telling about the one that's most important to you will be sufficient.
Adjust your answer to the role
You can't have 1 answer for every recruitment process, it's crucial to change it based on the role and requirements. Depending on the department, function, seniority and requirements you will have to change the answer.
Sometimes we make shifts in our career, if you're applying for a junior sales position tell us about the results that you have achieved in previous roles and how this relates to this job. Explain why you want to make this change and what makes you a good fit.
If you have some professional experience, tell the recruiter how it was achieved and mention what you've learned from that. Tell them which direction you see yourself moving towards right now and why would the role be a step forward to achieving those goals.
Is the role a step-up in your career? Tell the recruiter the story of how you became a developer and how you want to grow in the coming months or years. Mention the skills that you want to polish and any courses you want to take to grow as an expert in your niche.
Sample answers to "Tell me about yourself" questions
"I am a Java developer with 2 kids. Before becoming a developer I was working as an accountant at a small IT company but it became boring and I decided to try my strengths as a developer. For the past three years, I have been working as a junior developer in Rzeszów but now that I've moved to Cracow I thought it's the right time to join a bigger company to develop my career further. I learned a lot about Java, Scrum, popular Java frameworks and the whole IT industry. In the last 3 years I've worked on 2 projects, both were in the healthcare industry and I had to get certified to work on confidential data. Together with my husband and our kids we often go to the mountains. It's important for us to show the boys how beautiful the world is. In the next few years, I'm planning to advance in my career and work on my technical skills to advance to a senior position. My long-term goal is to lead my own team and help others grow, that's why I'm working on my soft skills."
"Well, I’m currently a Sales Development Representative at Cloud, where I handle our European clients. Before that, I worked at an international bank where I was taking care of corporate clients. I really enjoyed the work that I did and learned a lot about the banking and tech industry and I’d love the chance to connect with both of them. That's one of the reasons I applied for this role, I've researched your company and learned that your tools are great for cloud optimization, especially in the banking world."
"So I've always been passionate about technology, even in primary school I was wondering how things work. This led me to become a developer, I was working on a few projects already in high school. In addition to coding, I learned to work in a remote environment with teams spread across the globe. After college, I started work as a Cloud Architect at one of the bigger investment banks and I realized how weak the security is. To improve it I focused more on the security of the enterprise and developed a few solutions that allowed the company to save millions from potential attacks. I've learned that I work best on projects that are crucial to the company, with great power comes great responsibility and I feel it. Frankly speaking, security is my passion, but I also like to work out, sometimes the best ideas come to me when I lift weights. I've known your company for some time and love your approach to security so I jumped at the chance to apply when I saw the open posting."
Tell a great short story about yourself at the beginning of the interview to pave a great way for the whole recruitment process. With the right preparation, you will leave a lasting first impression on the recruiter. A good way to prepare is to create a nice elevator speech about yourself, you can learn how to do it in the next article, where we talk about the 5 Steps to Create a Powerful Elevator Speech.