Interview questions – Tell me about yourself – how to answer

Decoding one of the most precious interview questions


‘Tell me about yourself ‘ is the most important and one of the most dreaded interview questions. Most of the time candidates are seen struggling with this question, which is the icebreaker of any interview.

Why this question?

This question is a great starting point. Therefore, it is the most preferred question to start the interview.

It allows the candidate speaks about something he knows the most about – himself. It acts as a soft cushion for the candidate to get ready for the interview environment.

It projects the candidate’s ability to communicate, thought structure, goals and aspirations. It also provides sufficient fodder to the interviewer to initiate a discussion.

Keep in mind

The key to answering this question to understanding that the interviewers –

  • would like to know more about you as an individual
  • want to hear a story and not an account of events or a list of names
  • do not want to know what they already know from your resume
  • are not interested in information about your parents, or how many siblings you have

Sometimes the interviewer inquires about specific parts of your career journey. In this case, he would use some variation of this question.

  • Take me through your career history and experience.
  • Tell me in detail about your job experience and education

Candidates often get confused in deciding the starting and end points of the story. The answer to this dilemma is – it depends!

It depends on how clearly the question or its variations are asked. Or on how far the interviewer is willing to explore your life story.

If the interviewer does not intervene while listening to your answer, she is willing to listen more. You can go on revealing more details about yourself.

However, if she intervenes in between and cross-questions, then you have struck a chord with her. You are now sitting in the driver’s seat from where you can drive the whole interview. You should start taking command from here, projecting and highlighting one interest after another and one achievement after another.

How to attempt?

One structure to follow while answering “Tell me about yourself” is:

  • Start by summarizing your career, and explaining your personality.
  • Explain the reasons for taking various career decisions. Describe why you choose a particular education, a particular job, or a job shift. Do not recite your resume, but the story behind it.
  • Talk about your dreams and aspirations.
  • Discuss your major victories, achievements, and failures that helped you learn.
  • Take your story to the present, which means, to the moment you are sitting and taking this interview. Tell them the reason behind it.
  • If the interviewer has still not stopped you still, discuss your hobbies, interests etc

The freshers and graduates must be wondering what career summary they may provide while answering this question. There are a couple of choices.

You can speak very briefly about your family background, your native place, and its specialties. Then, move to meaningful information like “I decided to pursue B.Tech. in Mechanical because…” OR “In the four years of my graduation here, I have grown in terms of…” OR “One of my major achievements here have been building a robot which…”

Your answer will lead to follow-up questions. This opens an opportunity to steer the discussion towards your areas of expertise. So, make sure you leave some hints about your strengths while introducing yourself. Let the interviewer follow those hints and ask you questions which you are fully prepared on.

Have any queries about ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question? Write in the comments and let’s discuss.