"Tell me about yourself" is one of the most common interview questions. This question is intentionally open-ended and broad, and designed to give you the freedom to share your role-related background and qualifications.
While it can feel overwhelming to summarize your background and qualifications succinctly, the key is being prepared.
We’ve put together four tips, to help you prepare an impressive answer to the "Tell me about yourself" question in your next job interview.
Preparing your answer to "Tell me about yourself"
When preparing for the "Tell me about yourself" interview question, start by reviewing the job description thoroughly. Make note of the key requirements, qualifications, and responsibilities the employer is looking for. Take time to analyse the job description, as this will form the basis for crafting your response. The employer is essentially providing you with a checklist of their ideal candidate's background, so keep this top of mind.
Once you've combed through the job description, reflect on your own background, and create bullet points of relevant experiences, skills, and achievements to highlight. Identify 2-3 top selling points that align closely with what the employer is looking for.
Consider including the following elements in your answer:
Professional experience - Mention 1-2 past positions that are most relevant to the role. Provide context on your responsibilities and use hard numbers or statistics to quantify your accomplishments and impact in the position. Figures help the interviewer understand the scope of your experience. For example, rather than generally saying "I increased sales", say "I increased sales by 30% over a 2-year period."
Technical skills - If the role requires specific technical skills, be sure to highlight your proficiency levels. For example, "I have advanced Excel skills including pivot tables, VLOOKUPS, and macros."
Soft skills - Note 2-3 interpersonal skills or strengths like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, organizational skills, or leadership that align with the role. Provide brief examples to back these up.
Career goals - Take 1-2 sentences to explain why you're interested in this opportunity and how it fits into your short- and long-term career goals. This shows you've done your research and demonstrates enthusiasm for the company and role.
Relevant professional achievements - Mention awards, accreditations, certifications, or professional development training you've undertaken that's applicable to the role. Just be cautious not to overdo it on listing accomplishments, as you want to focus on a few impressive examples tailored to the job.
Keep your answer concise - aim for 2-3 minutes long. Focus on your most recent and relevant experiences, skills, and accomplishments that indicate you're a strong match for the role.
Structure your answer to “Tell me about yourself” using the STAR method
Situation - Quickly set the context by explaining the background of a previous professional experience or story. Try to choose an example that allows you to highlight achievements or skills the employer is looking for.
Task - Describe the core challenge, objectives, or tasks involved that you took ownership of handling. This draws the interviewer into the storyline.
Action - Share the strategic actions you personally took to address the situation. Be specific and emphasise what you did.
Result - Close your STAR response by highlighting the positive outcome or impact of your actions. Use numbers or stats to quantify the results as much as possible. This ending demonstrates your capabilities.
Using the STAR framework, ensures you develop a short yet compelling narrative instead of just listing qualifications. STAR stories help you stand out by painting a vivid picture of your skills and successes.
When using the STAR method:
Stick to just 2-3 stories max - Keep your interview succinct and to the point
Vary the types of scenarios you choose - for example, one story could demonstrate leadership skills, another analytical skills
Keep it focused on you - don't use "we" statements, ensure you talk specifically about the actions you took
What not to say when answering "Tell me about yourself"
When answering “Tell me about yourself” there are a few topics to avoid:
Keep your answer professional
Don't discuss personal details or hobbies unrelated to work. While you want to be personable, keep the focus strictly on highlighting your professional background and qualifications.
Don't just summarise your CV in your answer
Simply summarising your CV as one long list misses the point of the question. Instead, use strategic stories and choose selective accomplishments that paint a picture of your capabilities.
Don't memorise a scripted response to "tell me about yourself"
While practice and preparation are key, avoid sounding like you are reciting a script. Use the STAR method as a framework, but make sure your delivery sounds natural.
"Tell me about yourself" sample answer
Here's an example response to "Tell me about yourself” incorporating the use of the STAR method:
"With over 7 years in digital marketing, I specialise in driving growth for brands through targeted online strategies. In my current role as Digital Marketing Manager at Smith Media, I oversee all digital campaigns and channels, along with a team of two.
When I joined Smith Media three years ago, the company had minimal online presence and was relying heavily on traditional media. My priority was developing our social media channels from scratch, which I optimized to grow our follower base to over €50k in the first year.
I also spearheaded shifting 30% of our total advertising budget to online. I personally managed the digital budget and strategy, securing buy-in from leadership on investing in paid search and social ads for the first time. As a result, sales attributed to digital channels increased 15% year-over-year.
My goal moving forward is to continue elevating Smith Media's digital capabilities to complement our strong traditional presence. I know my expertise in strategically scaling digital presences and campaigns would allow me to maximize results for Jones Ireland. I'm excited by the opportunity to bring these skills in digital transformation to your marketing team."
This example answer to "Tell me about yourself” quickly establishes the candidate's digital marketing expertise. It uses the STAR method to demonstrate their ability to grow social presence and deliver ROI through paid digital campaigns. The answer stays focused on selling points relevant to the hiring manager's needs.
Key takeaways for answering "Tell me about yourself"
Thoroughly review the job description
Identify 2-3 selling points aligned with the role
Use the STAR method to structure your answer
Quantify achievements and skills with numbers/stats
Keep it professional, on topic, and around 2-3 minutes long
Preparation and practice using our four tips can help perfect your "tell me about yourself" answer. Be sure to research the company and role so you can tailor your response. Bring the interviewer's attention to the parts of your professional background that make you the ideal candidate. Browse our candidate blog directory for more job interview and career advice.