How to best answer the interview question ‘Tell me about yourself’

Nearly every job interview you will ever attend will have some variation of this question. Learn how to impress your interviewer with a polished, powerful response to this classic question.

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KT Team

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Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 4:14 PM

This is one of the most common interview questions that you can expect in almost any kind of interview. The good thing about questions like these is that it’s open-ended enough, giving you the freedom to insert whatever information you choose to share about yourself to the interview panel.

Why do interviewers ask this rather common question?

Tell me a little about yourself. It’s an age-old question in the world of job interviews, and before we get into how to answer this question, let’s ask why interviewers ask this question.

Asking candidates this is a good entry point into the conversation. Compared to more complex, technical questions which usually come later, this one is rather easy and does not have any wrong answers, putting candidates at ease. It is open-ended and, therefore, comes with some level of leeway to answer. While the answer itself is of great importance to the hiring team, the question also helps the interviewers transition into the interview and gauge the language, confidence levels, and communication skills of the candidate. Does the candidate stutter? Do they engage in pointless anecdotes? Are they witty? Are they nervous? – this simple prompt answers all these questions.

Here are some things to keep in mind while answering this question

Self-introduction: Use this question (or a variation of it) as a good opportunity to introduce yourself, your educational and professional qualifications, as well as your passions.

Professional language: While it’s important to seem genuine, remember that introducing yourself at a job interview is vastly different from introducing yourself to strangers at a house party. Use language that is amiable but not too casual or overly comfortable.

Tailor your answer: This is a question that you’ll encounter in some form or the other in all phases of the interview. Rather than having a ready script for the question, make sure to modify your answers and include the relevant details specific to the interviewer. The information that you share with a recruiter will be different from what you share with the hiring manager, the boss, HR, a collaborator, etc. Similarly, also adapt your answer based on the role as well as the company.

Keep it concise: A mistake that candidates often make while answering this question is not keeping a check on time. Keep your answer short, sweet, and relevant. Remember that this is only an introductory question and that the rest of the interview is yet to begin. Do not bore the interviewer by rambling or through pointless unrelated anecdotes as these directly point to your communication skills—or lack thereof.

Do not memorise: While preparing for an interview is essential, try not to memorise the answers to these common questions as they seem to point to a level of artificiality and lack of confidence. Nearly 40% of all interviewers are believed not to consider candidates who don’t appear confident in their answers.

Make it fun: Just because it’s a job interview does not mean that you need to keep things purely career-related. While introducing yourself, don’t be afraid to include hobbies or pursuits outside the domain of your career that define you and help interviewers see you as a multi-faceted individual with a life outside work.

Be your true self: Your certificates and resume are not the only things that make you an asset in the eyes of a hiring manager. It is your persona, the warmth you exude, your trustworthiness, and how genuine you are. While talking about your achievements and accomplishments, make sure not to exaggerate or falsify your claims. Be truthful, authentic, and passionate.

Here is a template of how you could answer that question if you’re interviewing for a role at a company or a corporate:

"Well, I am [preliminary introduction]. I consider myself to be a curious and driven person, with a passion for learning and problem-solving. I have a background in [field], and greatly enjoy roles that allow me to use my skills to make a positive impact in [insert specific sub-field].

In my current position, I've had the opportunity to [highlight a few key accomplishments or responsibilities], and it's been incredibly fulfilling to see the results of my work. But now I think it’s time to take a step up and pursue opportunities that will make better use of my resources and skills. In my free time, I enjoy [hobby or interest], which I find helps me to stay creative and energized. If selected for this role, I'm excited about the prospect of joining this team and improving my skillsets through the connections and experience I find here."

If, instead, you work in the creative field and want to make a lasting impression as an artist or a creator, here is an answer that might help you score the job:

"I'm a passionate and creative individual with a deep love for the arts. From a young age, I've loved expressing myself through various mediums. I’ve trained and attained formal education in [specific type of art training or degree] at [name of institution].

The work of [a creator who’s inspired you] has been a source of inspiration all my life. Over the course of my career, I've had the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects, including [highlight a few notable projects or collaborations]. I find that I'm particularly drawn to [specific style or subject matter of art]. Creative collaboration is something I enjoy greatly about art, and it helps me expand my horizon. In my free time, I enjoy visiting art galleries and attending art events and workshops both online and offline. If given an opportunity here, I’m excited to bring my current experience and fervour to the table, create [art, design, sound, etc.], and have more interesting collaborations with the other artists/creators!”

If you're a student working part-time or an intern, your introduction will be slightly different, and shorter!
If you're a student working part-time or an intern, your introduction will be slightly different, and shorter!

If you’re fresh to the job market and are interviewing for an internship or an entry-level position, keep your introduction concise, honest, and informative. Here’s an example:

"I am [preliminary introduction]. I'm a recent [degree/major] graduate from [institute name] with a passion for [industry or field you're interviewing for]. I've been waiting for an opportunity to get some hands-on experience in the field, and I feel like this job would be the perfect fit. I'm particularly interested in [specific aspect of the industry or job function], and I'm excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in this role. In my free time, I enjoy [hobby or interest that showcases personal qualities like teamwork or creativity]. If hired, I can promise you that I’ll make a great addition to your team and can help with driving the success of your company. I can’t wait to learn more at [company name] and apply it to real-life challenges in the workplace.”

We hope that you’re no longer confused about answering this very familiar question posed time and time again in interviews. The question might be old and routine, but your answer doesn’t have to be!

For more interview questions and answers, click here.


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