You know it’s coming. It’s practically inevitable. But how do you respond when a potential employer opens the interview with “So, tell me about yourself”? Are there certain things you’re supposed to talk about? Our experts have the answer to help ease your stress.
Outside the Resume
Chances are if you’ve made it to the stage where a human is interviewing you, they already have your resume. This means they already know your basic qualifications, and were interested enough in you that they want to know more. When asked, “Tell me about yourself,” don’t tell them what they already know.
Instead, Beamer, a Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., explains that the best way to answer this is to “start with what you are passionate about and tie it back to the prospective company and why it matters to them. For example, ‘I am a very creative person, I originally went to school for fine art and have loved creating new things my entire life. This way of being helps me approach problems differently as well as innovate and challenge the status quo.’”1 By explaining your passions, you’re showing the potential employer a side of you that can’t be read in a resume, and hopefully making an impact in the process.
Of course, just because the interviewer has already seen your resume doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your experience at all - after all, your experience is going to be one of the key reason you have an interview in the first place. Ashley, a Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, explains that after you’ve talked about your passion, supplement your response with details about your work background. “Walk through any experiences you have had to date and highlight the areas that are most relevant to the position. The interviewer wants to hear why you are the best fit for the position so don't focus too much on areas that would not apply to the position or the company.”2
By answering the question first in reference to your passion, then in reference to your skillset, you are able to expound upon your resume in a way that hopefully piques the interviewers interest and demonstrates why you are the perfect fit for the job.
Prepare in Advance
Because you know the question is coming, it only makes sense to know what you’re going to say beforehand. Amanda, a Hiring Expert at Daikin Applied, recommends “coming up with a 2-minute ‘elevator speech.’ This speech should include high-level information about your background, including key jobs, job duties and responsibilities you’ve had, and any special recognition you’ve received.”3 Preparing in advance is a smart way to cover your bases, just to make sure you get in everything you need to say when the time comes.
You are an interesting person, so show that to your potential employer in an interview! Be true to who you are, what you love, and what you’ve done and your interviewer is sure to like you! Which puts you that much closer to landing that job!