How to Answer the “Tell me about yourself” Interview Question

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    The classic open-ended question that is typically used to start off an in-person or video interview, “Tell me about yourself”. There are a number of ways that you could go about answering this question. Our first piece of advice is to be confident!  There are multiple open-ended questions that your potential employer can throw at you. The reason they like to do this is that they are more difficult to answer, and there really is no wrong answer to them.  We’re going to guide you through the 5 best ways to tackle these kinds of open-ended questions in an interview. 

    What is an Open-Ended Question?

    An open-ended question is a free-form question that has the opportunity for multiple answers. This type of question can be answered with one complete knowledge, feeling, and understanding. This is why the question isn’t limited to one answer, nor is there really a wrong answer.   

    Why Do Employers Ask This Question?

    The common ‘get to know you’ question is an easy way to start off an interview. Not only does it give the employer a chance to see how you respond, but you also have a couple of different angles to take the interview in. 

    Typically this question is intended to stump interviewees, but if you are able to answer this question with confidence, then it also sets the tone for the rest of the interview. There is also an opportunity for casual conversion between you and your potential employer, which will also result in a better connection.

    5 Best Ways to Answer the “Tell me about yourself” Question

    The way you answer the first question in your interview will set the tone for the rest of it. You should be able to tell a great story about yourself in about two minutes. When practicing you should be confident, quick, and precise. Here are the best ways to conjure an answer to the question, “tell me about yourself”. 

    1. Introduce past (and relatable) success to the position you are applying for

    The first step to answering this question is to know about the job you are applying for. Reread the job description and then take note of the experience you have that is applicable. Let the employer know that you have the correct experience that aligns with what they’re looking for. 

    2. Consider how your current job relates to the one you are applying for

    It’s important for the employer to realize that you are a good fit for the role they are looking to fill. With that being said, talk about your skill set in your current role and how those will transition to the role you are applying for. Whether you are transitioning to a higher-paying job or a completely different one, your skillset should still give you the upper hand when in an interview. 

    3. Focus on your strengths and strong suits

      When you are talking about how you improved a situation in your current role, it is important to be as descriptive as possible. Hype up the things that you are proud of in your current role. It will make you look like a dedicated team player and someone who takes their role to the next level. 

    4. Highlight your personality

    Answering the ‘tell me about yourself’ question is a great opportunity for you to show off your personality. And this is a great way to start off the interview as a little bit of an ice breaker. Mentioning your hobbies and/or interests is a good lead way into a more connective conversation with your potential employer. The important thing to remember is that you are not oversharing or sharing personal details; keep the conversation professional. 

    5. Format your response

    Another thing to consider while you are preparing for the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, is formatting it. You don’t want to sound unorganized with your response. Something that can help you keep your thoughts gathered and on track with the topic is to respond in a timely order. 

    For example, you could refer to your past experience first, then your present ones, and lastly your future goals. This can be achieved in the reverse order as well, so you’ll be listing everything from future, present, to past. This is one of the easiest ways to answer the question effectively and efficiently. The way you organize your answer is solely based on where your skillset is the strongest and where it is most applicable to the job you are applying for.  

    An Example Response For The ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Question

    If you have the opportunity to tour a college, take it! You can learn a lot about a college by researching it online, but sometimes seeing it in person can help you make the final call of where you can see yourself being the happiest and most comfortable during college. Tour as many colleges as you can, so you can make your final decision feeling as confident as possible. 

    Example 1
    “I began my career in retail management, but a few years ago, I was drawn to the healthcare space. I’ve always been skilled at bringing people together and working towards 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.”
    Example 2
    “In my current role at XYZ Medical Center, the efficiency of the office has been a personal focus—especially as it relates to patient outcomes. I set and oversee goals related to department budget and patient volume. Last year, I worked with our IT department to implement a communication system for scheduling procedures and protocols to ensure that all departments were adequately staffed at all times. With our new online scheduling portal, we increased communication efficiency by 20%. To stay informed about their ongoing concerns, I hold regular meetings with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff. In my role, I also manage marketing and advertising efforts on behalf of the Center. I’ve been really enjoying that part of my work and I’m especially interested in bringing the experience I’ve gained as well as my commitment to efficiency to the team at ABC Health. Outside of the office, I’m an avid reader and I love to hike. On weekends, you might find me at the local bookstore or exploring hiking trails in the area.”

    Dos and Don’ts When Answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

    There are always things that should be avoided when you are interviewing for a new job. It is important to keep these things in mind that way you have a better chance at securing the position you applied for. 

    Don'ts

    The key things to avoid when answering questions in an interview go as follows: 

    Dos

    These are the things that you want to talk about and develop on in a conversation with your potential employer. 

    Key Takeaways

    When you are preparing for your interview make sure that you know the ins and outs of your resume. The interviewer may ask you to develop on some of your past experiences, so it’s important to highlight the successes of each one. Don’t overshare, but make sure each skill you highlight aligns with the job you applied for. Keep your responses short, but packed with valuable information. Stay confident and think about answers to questions that might be asked during your interview.  

    Contact a Prepory college admissions coach and start your college admissions journey.

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