Women answering question tell me about yourself confidently

Interview Answers Tell Me About Yourself: How To Impress Right Out Of The Gate

Tell me about yourself?

No matter what job you’re interviewing for, you can be sure that the interviewer will ask you this question.

woman answering the job interview question "tell me about yourself" with confidence

To make matters worse, nine times out of 10, the interviewer will most likely ask you, “Tell Me About Yourself?” right out the gate.

You only have one chance to make a strong first impression, and the way you answer the question “Tell Me About Yourself?” will set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Get this answer right, and you’ve set yourself up to impress the interviewer. You’ve passed the first test.

If you get the answer wrong, on the other hand, you are in for a potentially tough time.

The key to answering the “tell me about” yourself question correctly

The key to answering the question is to first understand why the interviewer is asking you this question. And why the question comes up already in the beginning of the interview.

It is also important to have clarity on what it is the interviewer want you to talk about when they ask you this question (hint; they don’t want to hear about your resume) .

In this episode, I’m diving into both of those topics and I also share with you how you should construct your answer to the “tell me about yourself” question, so that you’ll give a strong and confident first impression.

Not only that, you’ll also learn how to avoid the common mistakes that many candidates make when responding to this question.

Make sure you stick around until the end, because I’m sharing my SECRET method for how to separate yourself from other candidates and to be seen as a “must hire” candidate. I’ve used this method for over 20 years and I can confidently say it is a real game changer.

You don’t want to miss that trick!

Let’s dive in!

Video transcript



Why interviewers ask you the question “tell me about yourself?”

The best way to answer the question if you want to dazzle the interviewer

How to construct your answer so it’s tailored for you (including examples)

Common mistakes I’ve seen candidates make when asked “tell me about yourself?”

Prepare your answer but don’t overdo it

Learn my SECRET method for standing out from the crowd of other candidates (and be seen as a ‘must hire’ candidate)

Closing remarks


Tell me about yourself?

This is the number one most common question in a job interview, no matter which type of job you are interviewing for. Not only that, nine times out of ten, it is the very first question you are going to get asked. Plus, you’ve just met the interviewer so you may be a little nervous. And. You know you only get ONE chance to make a first good impression. That’s a lot of pressure.

If you want to know HOW to answer this question and WHY you are being asked in the first place, along with examples of how NOT to answer the question, then keep on watching.

Welcome to the Career Upgrade. My name is Petra Pearce, and I am a Career Strategist and a Coach. Over the past 20 years, I have worked as a global HR leader in several Fortune 500 companies, helping hundreds of professionals, just like you, to build their careers and maximize their performance.

In today’s video, we’re going to uncover why you are asked the question “tell me about yourself” at the beginning of a job interview and why answering it the right way is crucial. I will also share with you the best way is to answer it, and if you stick around until the end, I’ll share with you the most common mistakes I’ve seen people make and how you can avoid making them in your next interview.

Before we dive in, and before I forget, make sure you hit the subscribe button below and the notification bell so that you can be notified whenever I post a new video. I will be sharing more videos on how to answer interview questions as well as tips on how to upgrade your career. So, if that is something you’d be interested in, then make sure you don’t miss out and that you subscribe.

Okay. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Why Interviewers ask you the question “Tell Me About Yourself?”

First off, let’s talk about the reasons why you are asked the “tell me about yourself” question. There are actually three reasons for it.

First, it is a warm-up question. An icebreaker. But it is not a warm-up question just for you. It is also a way for the interviewer to gather him or herself and settle into the interview. You’ve probably done small talks as you’ve walked into the room and as you’ve sat down. And this question is a great way to transition the conversation into the real reason why you’re even talking.

The second reason you are asked this question early in the interview is because the interviewer wants to gauge your interpersonal skills in a real setting. And want to see how you present yourself. And the best opportunity to do that is while you are still relatively unknown to each other. The interviewer will observe things like if you are calm and collected or if you’re fidgeting? How’s your eye contact – are you keeping it or are your eyes darting all around the room? How’s your voice? Can you establish instant likeability and trust with people that have never met you before?

All those things are something that the interviewer wants to know, so a large part of the question is not WHAT you say but HOW you say it.

The third reason is that it helps the interviewer determine what questions to ask you for the rest of the interview. Regardless of how much you have prepared in advance to answer this question, it is ultimately YOU sharing what YOU think is important, and that may or may not be in line with what the interviewer thinks.

So, it is only natural that they will dive deeper into the areas that are important to them, and hopefully, you’ve nailed your answer so the follow-up questions will be in line with what you’ve already talked to them about. If you’ve failed to impress the interviewer, then expect a bit tougher interview.

So now that you know WHY you are asked the question let’s look at HOW you answer the question correctly.

The best way to answer the question if you want to dazzle the interviewer

The first thing to remember is that the interviewer only wants to know about your professional experience. They do not want to hear about your private life.

Secondly, think about it as a story where there’s a start, a middle, and an end. In this case, the start is your CURRENT job. The middle is ALL YOUR PAST positions that you’ve had. And the end is what you’re LOOKING TO DO NEXT. In other words, the reason why you are interviewing for the position.

You should tailor your answer to fit the job you’re interviewing for. What I mean with that is that you will need to look at the job description before the interview and really think about how your experience aligns with their role and what they’re looking for, so you can make sure that you mention only things that are relevant for them.

You want to keep your answer to be 3-4 minutes long. If you go on longer, you’re going into too many details in your response. On the other hand, if you answer this question in less than two minutes, you haven’t given enough details.

Let’s break it down even more.

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How to construct the answer so it’s tailored for you (with examples)

Your starting point should be your current job as it relates to the position you’re interviewing for. If you work in Marketing, you can say something like:

Quote: I’m currently a Marketing Director at Company X, where I’m in charge of the marketing campaigns for products Y and Z.

Ideally, you should also include an accomplishment, so it could look something like:

I’m currently a Marketing Director at Company X, where I’m in charge of the marketing campaigns for products Y and Z.

Ideally, you should also include an accomplishment, so it could look something like:

Earlier this year, the marketing campaign for both these products generated X dollar in revenue.

You don’t have to stick to just one accomplishment. You can mention more than one but remember that they need to be relevant to the position you’re interviewing for.

Then, move into your past positions. You don’t have to go over each job you’ve had, especially not if you have been working for many years. Instead, you want to give a broad overview and focus on what is relevant to the position. Here’s an example:

Marketing is something that I’ve always been passionate about, and I started my career as a Marketing Assistant with Company Y. Over the years, and as I’ve progressed in my career, I have always made sure to both deepen and broaden my expertise. For example, all the positions I’ve had before my current one, have been within the financial sector, while my current company is in healthcare.

What you want to do next is to tie it into the position you’re interviewing for. So you could say:

That’s actually one of the reasons why your position is so attractive to me because it would be an opportunity for me to work in yet another sector.

Now, that was just an example, and you can obviously say more, but the intention is not for you to state each and every position you’ve had, but instead highlighting some aspects of your experience and capabilities that are relevant for the job you’re interviewing for. Remember, the interviewer has read your resume, so there’s no need for you to go through it all verbally.

You want to end your answer by bringing it back to why you are interested in the position. Here you want to show your passion and your excitement in the role and the company. You want to make sure they understand how you see this position being the perfect next job for you and how well it aligns with your future aspirations. A way to do this is to say something like:

When I saw that you’re looking for a Marketing Director, I got so excited for many reasons. I’ve already mentioned that I want to move into a new sector, and another attraction is that the role is similar to what I’m doing today, which is also where my true passion within marketing lies and something, I’m keen to continue with. Because it is so similar, I see many ways that I can add value to your company based on my experience in both finance and healthcare companies. Also, there are things you’ve mentioned in the description that really got me excited, such as [….].

And then you go on and tell them what those are. You want to make sure that the interviewer is thinking, “I can totally see why you’ve applied for this role.”

Even if the example I’ve given here is for a senior role, it works just as well for any job at any level.

So, to summarize HOW to answer the question “tell me about yourself”:

Only talk about your professional experience
Make sure only to bring up experience that is relevant for the position you’re interviewing for.
Keep the answer to be 3-4 minutes long.
Think about it as a story with a start (current job), a middle (all previous jobs), and an end (what you’re looking to do next).
Show your passion and excitement about the job and the company.
Aim to get the interviewer to think, “yes, I can see why you’ve applied for this role.”

Most importantly, though. Remember that this is you giving a first impression. So, you want to show that you are prepared for the interview. When you are prepared, you come across more confident and calmer, and that’s a great way to start the interview.

So, there you have it. Now you know why you are asked the question “tell me about yourself” at the beginning of the interview and how to answer it correctly.

Common mistakes I’ve seen candidates make when asked “tell me about yourself?”

Like I said at the beginning of the video, I promised to share some common mistakes that I’ve seen people make when answering this question and how you can avoid them. So, here they are – common mistakes:

The first one, and a common one that many people make is to start talking about where they grew up, where they went to school and how they met their partner, where they live, etc. etc. As an interviewer, I don’t need to know that. Yes, I want to get to know you better, but that’s on a professional level. So, keep your answer to only talk about your professional life.

Another mistake many people make is to go through their resume from start to finish. I’ve actually even had candidates read it out loud to me. As an interviewer, I have already read your resume and even if I haven’t, I don’t want you to read it to me.

Then the final mistake I’ll share with you is people going into way too much detail when answering this and end up speaking for too long. I’ve been in situations where candidates get so wrapped up in telling their story that I’ve had to stop them. Just so that we can move on with the interview. You want to make sure to keep your answer to be only 3 to 4 minutes long.

Okay. Now you have everything you need to answer this question in a way that will give you the best possible start in the interview. But before you go, there’s a couple of bonus tips I want to provide you with.

Prepare your answer but don’t overdo it

The first one is not to overdo it. You want to prepare your answer, time check it, and rehearse it, but don’t overdo it. After all, the interview is a conversation, so you don’t want your answer to sound like as if the interviewer has pressed play on a recorder. It has to be natural.

Learn my SECRET method for standing out from the crowd of other candidates (and be seen as a ‘must hire’ candidate)

The second bonus tips – and this is something not many people do. And that is to take time straight after the interview to write down as much as you can from the meeting. The intention is to do a brain dump, or a debrief, of everything you remember from the interview. What you were asked and what you responded. What they told you about the company and the role. Your impressions and even how you felt during the interview.

Ideally, you should do this after every interview. And, depending on how many interviews you go to, it may end up being a bit of work for you. But if you make a point of writing down your impressions and what you were discussing straight after the meeting, it shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes. I can guarantee that this is time well spent.

Besides being a great way for you to reflect on the questions you were asked and how you answered them and therefore how you can improve the way you respond if you need to, it is also a very useful piece of information to have if you are called to further interviews.

By having detailed notes from your previous meetings, you can go through them when you prepare for the follow-up session, and you’ll be able to impress the new interviewer with referencing back to previous discussions. And showcase how much you’ve taken onboard of what they’ve already told you. The signal that you’re sending is that you are so interested in the position and the company that you actually remember everything that they’ve already told you.

Not only that, if you land the job, which is the entire purpose right, you’ll have great information that will set you up for a fantastic start with the company. If you’ve taken onboard all the information that is being shared with you at the interview stage, you will for sure increase your chances of being seen as a high performer from day one.

Download the FREE Interview Debrief Guide

If spending time after the interview writing down the details from it is something that is new to you, I have a free that helps you structure how to do it.

The link is down below, so feel free to click on it, enter your email, and I will for sure send you a copy of the guide.

Closing remarks

If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up, subscribe and let me know in the comments what your biggest takeaway is from what I’ve just shared with you. Thank you so much for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.

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woman answering the job interview question "tell me about yourself" with confidence
woman answering the job interview question "tell me about yourself" with confidence

Hi, I'm Petra Pearce

I recently pivoted my career from working as an HR leader for over two decades in global organizations and in places like Silicon Valley, Singapore and London, to now devote all my time helping corporate jobseekers land job offers fast by teaching them how to upgrade their interview skills.

FREE Workbook: 7 Simple Steps to Prepare For Your Next Job Interview

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  1. Jasmine

    This was very helpful because I absolutely hate that question. I hate interviews in general they make me super anxious.

    • Petra

      I’m sorry to hear you hate interviews and that they make you anxious. What part of the interview is making you anxious?

  2. Idalmis

    Thank you for sharing this great information! In the past, this question was always a challenge for me, because I didn’t have a clear idea of what information to provide. I felt that sometimes it was really easy to give irrelevant information. This article helps you to have a clear idea of how to respond. Thanks! 🙂

    • Petra

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you found it helpful.


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