Can You Tell Me About Yourself? Best Ways to Tackle this Interview Question
One of the most common interview questions that candidates face is, “Can you tell me about yourself?” While this may seem like a simple and straightforward question, it can actually be quite challenging to answer effectively. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance on how to tackle this difficult question in a way that showcases your skills, experience, and achievements, and sets you apart from other candidates – whether completing the interview in-person or over video.
Why Do Interviewers Even Ask This Question in the First Place?
This question is asked in the beginning of an interview for a few reasons:
- To get to know you on a personal level — but not too personal — for example, your educational background, family life, and hobbies.
- To assess how well you can present yourself in a professional setting by paying attention to such things as your body language, tone of voice, and choice of words.
- To get a better understanding of your skills and experience, and how they can be beneficial to the company.
All of that is fair, to be certain. But that doesn’t do a lot to ease your mind about how to answer this question.
Understanding the Question
It’s important to understand what the interviewer is really asking when they ask, “Can you tell me about yourself?” This question is not an invitation to give a detailed autobiography, but rather an opportunity to highlight the most relevant and impressive aspects of your background, experience, and skills.
Here are some common misconceptions about the question and the interviewer’s perspective:
Misconception: The interviewer wants to hear a complete rundown of my life story.
Reality: The interviewer is looking for a brief overview of your background and experience that is relevant to the role.
Misconception: The interviewer wants to know everything about me.
Reality: The interviewer is only interested in the information that will help them determine if you are a good fit for the role.
Misconception: The question is just a formality.
Reality: The interviewer is paying close attention to your answer and using it to assess your communication skills, confidence, and enthusiasm for the role.
Alternative Phrasing to be Aware Of
It’s also worth noting that there are different variations of the question such as,
- “Walk me through your background”
- “Give me a summary of your experience”
- “Start from the beginning and tell me about yourself.”
- “What brings you here today?”
- “What do you have to offer us?”
- “What strengths do you have that make you a suitable candidate?”
- “Describe your professional journey up until this point.”
- “I’d like to learn more about you.”
And the list goes on.
Regardless of the specific phrasing, the goal is the same: to provide a concise and compelling overview of your qualifications.
Before the interview, it’s important to do your research and prepare a well-crafted answer to the “Can you tell me about yourself?” question. This question is a common and often the first question you’ll be asked in an interview, and preparation is key to ensuring you answer this question effectively and make a great first impression.
Here are some steps to take in preparation:
Research the Company and the Role
Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, values, and culture, as well as the responsibilities and requirements of the role. This information will help you tailor your answer to the company and the specific role you are applying for.
Reflect on Your Experience, Skills, and Achievements
Take some time to think about your greatest accomplishments, the challenges you have overcome, and the skills you have developed over the course of your career. Write down your thoughts and experiences to help you remember important details.
Identify Your Unique Value Proposition
Take some time to think about what sets you apart from other candidates? What are your unique strengths and skills that make you an ideal fit for the role? This could be a specific technical skill, a strong work ethic, a background in a related field, or a unique perspective.
Consider Relevant Anecdotes
Do you have any stories or examples from your previous experience that demonstrate your skills and achievements? These anecdotes can help bring your qualifications to life and help the interviewer see the impact you have made in your previous roles.
With these steps in mind, you’ll be better prepared to craft an effective answer. And that’s exactly what we’ll cover next.
Craft Your Answer
With your research and reflections in mind, it’s time to craft your answer. Your response should have three parts:
- A brief introduction that highlights your relevant experience and achievements.
- A discussion of how you made a positive impact in your previous roles.
- A unique value proposition that explains why you’re an ideal fit for the role and the company.
Here’s a detailed look at each of these parts:
1. Brief Introduction
Start with a brief introduction that provides a snapshot of your background and experience. This could include your current role, your years of experience in the industry, and your education. Keep it concise and to the point, and aim for a maximum of one minute.
2. Positive Impact in Previous Roles
Next, discuss how you made a positive impact in your previous roles. Be specific and provide details on the results you achieved, such as increased efficiency, higher sales, or improved customer satisfaction. Use data and statistics to help illustrate your achievements, and be sure to mention any relevant projects or initiatives you led.
3. Unique Value Proposition
Finally, explain why you are an ideal fit for the role and the company. Emphasize your passion for the industry, the type of work you enjoy, and your long-term career aspirations. Discuss your unique value proposition, and how your skills, experience, and personality align with the company’s needs and goals.
Having a prepped answer that highlights your qualifications and sets you apart from other candidates is key to making a great first impression in an interview. Taking the time to prepare, research the company, and craft an effective answer, can work wonders for making you well-positioned to make a lasting impression.
However, you have to actually provide the answer effectively as well. Let’s discuss that now.
Delivering Your Answer Effectively
Delivering your answer effectively is just as important as crafting it. Here are some tips for conveying your answer in a compelling way.
Practice Your Answer
Before the interview, take time to practice your answer. Rehearse your response out loud and make any necessary adjustments. This will help you feel more confident and reduce any nerves you may have on interview day.
Project Confidence and Enthusiasm
On the day of the interview, be sure to project confidence and enthusiasm. Speak clearly and make eye contact with the interviewer. Smile and use gestures to convey your energy and excitement for the role. This will help you build rapport with the interviewer and make a positive impression.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
When answering the “Can you tell me about yourself?” question, it’s important to avoid common pitfalls. Avoid rambling, providing too much detail, or sounding scripted. Keep your response focused on what makes you an ideal fit for the role, and be sure to end on a positive note.
Adjust Your Answer Based on the Tone and Context of the Interview
Finally, be sure to adjust your answer based on the tone and context of the interview. If it’s a more casual environment, you can provide a lighthearted answer that shares more of your personal interests and personality. On the other hand, if it’s a more formal setting, you can tailor your answer to better emphasize your qualifications and experience.
By utilizing these strategies and tailoring your response to each job interview, you can make an excellent first impression and stand out as the perfect candidate for the position.
How Long Should My Answer Be?
It’s important to remember that “Can you tell me about yourself?” is an open-ended question. Therefore, there isn’t a specific answer length that you should aim for. Generally, your response should not exceed one minute and should focus on the points that are most relevant to the role.
By keeping your answer concise and to the point, you can make a great impression and demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
More Tips for Answering This All-Important Interview Question
In addition to the tips outlined above, here are some other ways you can make a great impression when answering “Can you tell me about yourself?”:
1. Emphasize Your Transferable Skills
Even if you have limited experience in the industry, focus on your transferable skills and explain how they can be applied to the role.
2. Research the Company and Tailor Your Answer to Their Needs
Take the time to research the company and tailor your answer to their needs. Show that you understand what they are looking for and how you can contribute to their success.
3. Highlight Any Relevant Work Experience or Certifications
If you have relevant work experience or certifications, be sure to highlight them in your answer. This will demonstrate your commitment and expertise in the field.
4. Demonstrate How You Would Approach a Problem Unique to the Industry
Explain how you would approach a problem or challenge unique to the industry. This will show your knowledge and understanding of the field.
5. Showcase Awards and Accomplishments That Demonstrate Your Success in Past Roles
It’s important to showcase any awards or accomplishments that highlight what you’ve been able to achieve in previous roles or positions. This will show the interviewer your ability to succeed and contribute to an organization.
6. Have a Positive Attitude and Demonstrate Your Interest in the Role
It’s important to convey a positive attitude and demonstrate your interest in the role. Express interest in the company and show that you are excited to be a part of the team. The hiring manager will be impressed with your energy and enthusiasm.
7. Be Honest and Authentic with Your Response
Above all, be honest and authentic with your answer. Don’t say anything that sounds rehearsed or inauthentic. Your response should be genuine and reflect your unique skills, passions, and experiences.
8. Be Specific with Any Examples You Give (and Quantify Them If You Can
If you provide any examples, be sure to be specific and quantify them if possible. This will give the interviewer a clearer understanding of your skills, accomplishments, and experiences. We’re talking stats and other figures, if you can.
9. Don’t Come Into the Interview with Memorized Responses
Memorizing responses can come off as robotic and inauthentic. It’s important to have some structure, but also be ready to answer any questions the interviewer might have.
10. Don’t Offer a Resume Summary
Summarizing your resume isn’t the best answer to this question. Instead, focus on highlighting specific skills, experiences, and qualities that make you the ideal candidate for the job. Besides, the interviewer will likely have your resume in front of them while interviewing you anyway. No need to rehash what’s right there on the page.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can be sure to make a great impression when answering the “Can you tell me about yourself?” question.
Don’t Let “Can You Tell Me About Yourself” Intimidate You
The “Can you tell me about yourself?” question is a crucial part of the interview process. However, it doesn’t need to be intimidating. With the right preparation and practice, you can craft an effective answer that demonstrates why you’re a great fit for the role and the company and make a positive impression on potential employers.
If you need help preparing a resume to go along with your perfected interview question answers, we actually have a resume building tool you can use that can help you create the perfect resume in minutes instead of hours. It walks you through the design process step-by-step, leaving no guesswork and ensuring you don’t miss any of the essentials. Give it a try and see what sorts of designs you can come up with.
Good luck with your interview!