Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself" (With Answers)
Updated November 30, 2023
When you're attending an interview, whether it be an in-person, phone or video interview, a hiring manager may start the conversation by asking you "Tell me about yourself." They ask this question to learn more about you as a candidate and assess how you're different from other candidates. Understanding how to answer this question can help you improve your employability and increase your chances of getting a job offer.
In this article, we explain why hiring managers ask the interview question "Tell me about yourself," provide variations of this question, discuss how to answer it and provide example answers for you to reference as you create your own.
Why employers ask the interview question "Tell me about yourself"
“Tell me about yourself” questions are common starting points to easy both you and interview into the interview. It allows the interviewer to get a summary of your background and skills, giving them insight into what experience and qualifications you think are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Some interviewers might approach this question as an icebreaker by using your response to spark casual conversation to get to know you better. In contrast, others may move directly into other interview questions after you respond.
Variations of "Tell me about yourself"
Interviewers may ask "Tell me about yourself" in various versions, including:
I have your resume in front of me but tell me more about yourself.
Take me through your resume.
I'd love to learn more about your journey.
Tell me a little bit more about your background.
Tell me something about yourself that's not on your resume.
Tips on responding to "Tell me about yourself”
Start by discussing your current situation.
Explain your current role and highlight major, relevant achievements and responsibilities.
Work backward by hitting key points along your professional journey.
Summarize previous experience and how they've helped prepare you for the role. Focus on results you can quantify where possible.
Connect your background, interests and qualifications back to the job.
Finish by explaining how your experience will make you successful in the role and how the job aligns with your career goals.
How to answer "Tell me about yourself"
How you respond to "Tell me about yourself" may determine how successful the rest of your interview is. When you practice your answer, you want to tell a great story about yourself that you can share in two minutes or less. Follow these steps to prepare your response:
1. Mention experiences and successes as they relate to the job
Begin by reviewing the job description. Notice what skills the job requires and identify recent actions of yours that show them. You can review the STAR method to practice telling great stories in your interviews. You can refer to recent professional experience primarily, but you may also reflect on past volunteer work and other relevant experiences to support your narrative.
Two people sit talking, with one speech bubble saying "How To Answer "Tell Me About Yourself" and another speech bubble containing these tips:
• Mention past experiences and proven successes as they relate to the position
• Consider how your current job relates to the job you're applying for
• Focus on strengths and abilities that you can support with examples
• Highlight your personality to break the ice
2. Consider how your current job relates to the job for which you're applying
You may discuss your current job and relate your experiences to the open role. If you're applying for a more senior role, explain how you're taking on more responsibilities in your current position. If you're making a lateral transition to a role with different skills, describe how your existing skills translate into the new position.
3. Focus on strengths and abilities supported with examples
When you start building the script of each example, focus on details and outcomes that you can quantify if possible. For example, imagine that you want to talk about how you improved the customer service that your place of employment offered in a past role. Instead of only stating that you improved customer service, you may strengthen your example by stating that you increased customer service response rates each quarter by 10% to 15%. If you don't have the exact information, estimate a realistic value.
4. Highlight your personality
Because "Tell me about yourself" is about getting to know you, it's a good idea to share your personality with your interviewer. You may want to briefly mention hobbies that show your intellectual development or highlight your community engagement. Some of these hobbies may include your love of reading, music, volunteering or playing a team sport. You may also discuss hobbies that show personal discipline and achievement like learning a new skill. Discussing personal interests is a good way to conclude your response while maintaining a professional tone.
5. Format your response
For your response to be clear and concise, you can ensure to organize your answer following a format or formula. There are two common formulas you may consider:
Present, past and future
Past, present and future
Both of these formulas work for your response, but you may choose one based on the roles from your experience that are most relevant to the position you're seeking. For example, if your most recent role highlights many of the skills and qualifications required for the role you're seeking, you may want to begin with the present. However, if you're making a career transition and your past experience is more closely related to the role than your current position, you may want to begin with your past.
Example answers to "Tell me about yourself"
Sometimes seeing an example can be helpful, though each person's "tell me about yourself" answer will be different. Below are a few short scripts showing how this question can highlight someone's strengths supported by successful results in less than two minutes:
Here's an example response from a candidate who's applying to work in the health care industry:
"I began my career in retail management, but a few years ago, my professional interests shifted to the health care industry. I've always been skilled at bringing people together and working toward common goals. My experience successfully leading teams and managing stores led me to consider administration, and I've been building a career as a driven health administrator for the last four years. In my current role at XYZ Medical Center, the efficiency of the office has been a personal focus, especially concerning patient outcomes.
Last year, I worked with our IT department to implement a communication system for scheduling procedures to ensure that all departments had enough staff members. Our new online scheduling portal increased communication efficiency by 20%. To stay informed about their ongoing concerns, I hold regular meetings with various health care personnel. I've been enjoying that part of my work and I'm especially interested in bringing the experience I've gained to the team at ABC Health. Outside the office, I'm an avid reader and love to hike."
Here's an example answer from a candidate who's applying to work in the interior design industry:
"I've been passionate about design since I was a kid. My parents remodeled their house when I was in high school and allowed me to play an active role in the interior design plans. I knew then that I wanted to pursue interior design as my career. I studied interior design in college and graduated four years ago with my bachelor's degree. Since college, I've worked at an interior design firm in Savannah, Georgia. During my time there, I've been able to build my portfolio by designing both residential and commercial spaces.
My experience at the firm has built up my proficiencies in building and cutting-edge technologies and allowed me to build strong relationships with local suppliers. The most rewarding part of my job has been working in Savannah's historic buildings. This experience has familiarized me with the best-in-class building preservation methods. Moving forward, I would love to work at a design firm like this one that specializes in the design and preservation of historical buildings. I believe my experience and passion for preservation will allow me to be a great asset to your design team."
Here's an example answer from a candidate who's applying to work in the restaurant industry:
"Currently, I work at XYZ Restaurant as a hostess. I've been there for just over two years. My responsibilities include greeting and seating customers, assessing wait times, fulfilling to-go orders and answering the phones. I love the lively and busy environment of XYZ Restaurant, and it's helped me learn how to multitask and manage my time efficiently. Before working at XYZ Restaurant, I worked in retail as a floor associate for a year. This role helped me develop my customer service skills and become more comfortable in a team-oriented environment.
I'm looking to further develop my customer service and problem-solving skills as a hostess in a restaurant environment. I'm interested in your restaurant specifically as the employees have a great reputation for delivering first-in-class customer service while maintaining a lively and dynamic environment. Outside of work, I love baking and taking mixology classes with my friends. While I genuinely enjoy these activities, they also help me refine my professional skills."
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