How to Answer “Tell me about yourself” (Two Formulas)

“OK. So tell me about yourself”

The question sounds easy because you know all about yourself.

But giving a good answer in the context of a job interview can be stressful and complicated for you.

tell me about yourself

Well, there is no need to panic since it is not at all difficult to answer this question.

However, before I start to help you find answers to this question, I would like to tell you that often you will hear these exact words: “Tell me about yourself”.

But sometimes interviewers might have their own versions of this question and they ask pretty much the same thing, such as:

  • Walk me through your experiences.
  • Can you take me through your CV
  • Can you walk me through your CV
  • Tell me something about yourself that is not written in the CV
  • Is there anything not mentioned in the CV that I should be aware of
  • I’d love to hear more about your journey.
  • Tell me a little bit more about your background.

In all the above questions, the interviewer typically tries to break the ice with the interviewee so that he/she is able to gauge how well the candidate is organized in answering this unstructured question.

Why do interviewers ask this question?

It is one of the most common interview questions.

And it is considered a very reliable measure of a job candidate’s self-confidence and their degree of preparation by interviewers.

Your interviewers want to know more about you, but mostly because they want to put you on the spot and see how you react.

They’ve given you complete control here, and you should take full advantage of it. They have not, however, asked for your life story.

The real purpose of asking this question is to judge how articulate the candidate is when he’s asked to answer a non-technical question.

This is because, for technical questions, you may have prepared well in advance, but for such unstructured questions, you are generally unprepared, and therefore, a good way to judge your confidence and ability to handle such situations.

The basic idea of asking this question is to talk to the candidate and enquire more about him, his skills, his experience, and his interests.

Now, you can ask me that all these things are generally mentioned in the CV, so what’s the need to ask it again.

But then what you should also remember is that the HR manager may not have time to scan your complete CV and he might be more interested to speak with the candidate and test his communication skills.

How to Answer this Question?

In common with all open-ended questions, there is no obvious answer to “Tell me about yourself”.

It’s all on you to choose what to say and when to stop saying it.

This question is the best way to maneuver your thoughts and discussions in the way you want it to go. This is an opportunity to talk about your achievements, interests and let the interviewer know about your strengths.

This is probably your first and best chance to pitch to the interviewer on why you are the right one for the job. Be prepared to deal with it, it is unavoidable.

Don’t Say This

Although, there is no single way to answer this question there is something definitely which one should avoid saying.

If upon being asked this question you ask the interviewer – “What do you want to know” or “I have mentioned everything in the CV, please see it”, this would mean almost death of your candidature right away.

Generally, the candidates start to answer by saying things like “My name is __ and I stay in… and I have so many brothers and sisters…”.

This is a completely wrong way to answer.

What does interviewer actually want to know?

The interviewer actually wants to know about your skills and achievements, what have you accomplished in your previous job, and how you can help the organization achieve the desired results.

The first thing you should keep in mind that an interviewer does not want to know about your life history.

The interviewer is interested only in knowing whether you have the skills and qualities necessary to fulfill the requirement of the position which are you interviewing for. 

You should have a clear intention of informing and persuading the interviewer that you are a strong candidate. 

If you are a fresher, then he is perhaps interested to know about your internship experience, the kind of work you have handled, etc.

This will also give him/her an opportunity to understand whether you have done your internship properly or did you go for dummy.

So your response would be focused on articulating your history, strength, and skills in a way that illustrates how you are the ideal person for the position.

To answer the question “Tell me about yourself” effectively, you can use one of the following formulas; 

1. Present-Past-Future formula
2. Three Step Formula

1. Present-Past-Future formula

Use the Present-Past-Future formula, I read somewhere about this formula and quite liked it, so sharing it with you.

You can start talking about your present job, the work you are doing and your achievements.

Gradually you can tell about your previous employment and the work you do and why did you leave that job

And then finish off with the future of why you need this job and how best you are suited for it.

It is important how you tell your interviewer you are the right fit for this job. Try and match the desired skills with your skill-sets and then sell it vehemently to the interviewer.

But, please don’t oversell yourself.

Here is a sample answer:

I’m an Assistant Marketing Manager at XYZ company, specializing in sporting goods, and I’ve been working in the industry for eight years.

I’m actually from Durham, originally. My family owns a shop there, which is probably why I was initially attracted to this line of work.

I studied retail management at Nottingham University, which was great. After this, my first full-time role was with Y, as a buyer in their homeware section. I didn’t really know much about homeware when I started, but I managed to double sales year on year, which led to me being promoted to the position I’m in now.

I feel like this job is a great career move for me. I love working within the sports industry, and I think I’d be a really good fit. I believe you’re looking to increase your sales of fitness equipment, aren’t you? So that would be the first area I’d concentrate on.

Outside of work, I love to ski. I also blog about American football, when I have some free time. Although, with my two young kids at home, it can be a challenge!

Is there anything else you’d like to know?

2. Three Step Formula

You can use the following three-step formula to introduce yourself in any job interview confidently.

Step- 1 

Greet and tell your name, then summarize your experience and use some adjectives to define your personality.

So if you are an experienced professional, a good way to start can be;

Hi, I am Rohit Sharma. I am an innovative HR manager with 5 years of experience managing all aspects of the HR function from recruitment to training, to benefits for several companies.

You can see how it is tricky and professional and to the point.

But if you are a student, then you can say something like;

“Hi, I am Kajal Verma. I am a hardworking engineering graduate specialized in computer science engineering with overall CGPA…”  

Step- 2

In the second step, you talk about your best work.  Something that is you are proud of.

But avoid using superlative something like;

I am the best salesperson in this area.

Here you should list your accomplishments combined with the proof of performance.

For example;

“I have led the sales of my company for 4 years and had the opportunity  to bring in 5 million  dollars worth of new business during that time.”

This statement is humble and talks about an accomplishment and adds a number to it which makes it believable.

You can go on and mention your second-best achievement.

But if you are a student  and don’t have any experience,

You can talk about the training you have received and how those skills relate to the job applied.

“Along with my degree, I compted Java, HTML, SQL  courses online and the various technologies  I learned, has helped me develop my final year project called ‘XYZ’ .”

Step- 3

In the third step, you have to tell why you are fit for this job. 

Don’t say things like;

“I have issues with  my boss which is why I am looking for new opportunities.”

It might be true but don’t be blunt about it.

Read the job description carefully.

And tell them how your skills are aligned to their requirement.

Here is a sample answer;

“Hi, I am Yohesh kumar. I am a marketing manager with 5 years of experience. In my current job at ABC company, I achieved an average of 12 % sales growth over the three years.

My strong networking and relationship management skills have resulted in expanding the customer base by 30%.

Now I am very eager to meet the challenge of developing new territories for your company.”

If you are a fresher, you may read the following article;

⇒Tell me about yourself for fresher

Final thoughts 

For sure, this question needs rehearsal to give an impressive answer.  If you don’t agree, try to introduce yourself right now and see well you do.

So friends,  practice for perfection.

Sample Answers

1. Accountant

I have prepared myself to become a successful accountant by working hard in my career. I have shown a high level of confidence, progression, and commitment in my current role. I have a BBA from the University X. Last year, I was promoted from a junior Auditor to Senior Auditor

So now that I’ve been a supervisor for two years, I’m looking to advance to the manager level and continue leading teams. When a friend forwarded me this job description, it seemed like a great fit, so I knew I should apply

In my previous roles, I’ve worked with a range of solutions. I’m familiar with Netsuite, Oracle Enterprise Manager, and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Additionally, I am confident in my ability to learn new systems as needed. Since I’m familiar with the ERP concept, I believe that I could become proficient in a new system quickly, if needed.

2. Marketer

I am an innovative digital marketing professional having 5 years of experience. I believe I am a perfect fit for the job.

Based on the research I’ve done, your company is looking for a skilled communicator and experienced marketer to grow your business and help your company stand out from the competition.

At my previous company, I increased their activity by 24% by implementing targeted social media advertising. I have worked with leading brands which broaden my vision towards strategic and creative thinking.

I enjoy drawing and painting which keeps my internal artist alive. I like to challenge my creativity on the daily basis. I am a fitness enthusiast and it taught me the importance of discipline and consistency.

I intend to bring innovation and a positive spirit to your company, and your success will be my top priority.


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