How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”
Focus on your professional life and use the the present-past-future formula:
- Present: describe where you’re currently at with your career.
- Past: explain how your previous roles and experiences shaped your professional self.
- Future: outline your career plans and how this role aligns with them.
Let’s see what that means and how to structure your answer.
Present: describe where you’re currently at with your career
Start by talking who you are at this point of your career and life journey, and what your current role is. Don’t hesitate to mention a recent accomplishment. Include some basics like your name, where you live, and your job title. Briefly describe the scope of your responsibilities too.
Example: My name is John Mendes. I’m a marketing director at AlphaBeta Software, and I’m responsible for developing marketing and branding strategies while coordinating a team of 30 people. It’s been pretty exciting, we’ve managed to grow the customer base by 50% and boost revenue by 30% over the past 12 months under my leadership.
Past: explain how your previous roles and experiences shaped your professional self
Then segue into your past experience, previous jobs, work responsibilities, transferable skills, and education, but include only the parts that are relevant to the position you’ve applied for. Connecting the dots and providing an insight into what made you decide to pursue this particular career would be a nice touch. It would show the recruiter you’re genuinely interested in succeeding and that it’s an intended path and not just a temporary sidetrack until something better comes along.
HR Analyst Fabian Sandoval recommends, “Talk about a previous role that directly aligns with the job you’re interviewing for and highlight any achievements that could be relevant. This could even be projects you’ve done while freelancing. The idea here is that you want to paint a picture of career progression. You want to show that each step has prepared you for the next and then to this interview.”
Example: Prior to my current software developer position, I worked as a QA tester at Acme Engineering for two years. I’ve always had a knack for problem-solving and numbers, so I majored in Math and was on my college’s chess team. Earning the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate was a logical step, after which I landed an internship at a local software startup.
Future: outline your career plans and how this role aligns with them
Obviously, your prospective employer wants to know what your career plans are and what attracted you to this particular job. It’s essential to work your skills and interests into this section and tie them to what the position entails. By referencing the future, you’ll demonstrate that you’ve given both your career and this particular job some thought. And you’ll score some points for showing proactivity.
Example: Although I really enjoy my work as an SDR, I’d like to dig deeper down the sales funnel and start actually closing deals. The current position has given me the opportunity to master my communication, listening, and negotiation skills. After two years, I’m ready for a more challenging and dynamic role that requires bringing new business and revenue to the company.
This article focuses on how to best answer “Tell me about yourself”, which is more centered around making a solid introduction. If you’re struggling with how to sell yourself in the interview, check out this guide on how to answer “Why should we hire you?”
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