Job Interview Questions: How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

job interview questionsA job interview can be a nerve-wracking event, and you might have received all kinds of information on how to ace yours. Be yourself. Drive the interview. Embellish. What’s a job seeker to do? One of the job interview questions that might throw you off is one that seems pretty innocuous: “Tell me about yourself.”

Employers Can’t Ask Certain Questions

When it comes to job interview questions, most of us are aware what employers can’t ask, such as information about protected classes. This includes the topics of age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, and health. However, when posed with the question “Tell me about yourself,” many job seekers are immediately taken off guard. It’s as if they’re suddenly in a bar situation, and they start to ramble. Within moments, the interviewer knows all kinds of personal information about the candidate.

While this might be the interviewer’s underlying goal, a smart job seeker knows how to answer this question without opening a can of worms.

Keep Your Answer Focused

When asked “Tell me about yourself,” instead of going in a personal direction, steer your answer back to your career. What a good employer is really asking here is, “Tell me about your career journey and how you got to be sitting in my office.”

As you’re answering your job interview questions, for the most part, you want to keep it professional. The answer to this question is no different.

Whether you start in college or as a child when you always knew you wanted to be X, take the interviewer through a brief journey across your career. Why did you choose the major you did? Why has your career progressed the way it has? Why did you leave (or are planning to leave) your current position? And what is it about this job and this company that excites you?

Job Interview Questions Are Easy When You’re Prepared

If you don’t quite know how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question, practice. If you’re not comfortable in an interview setting, run through some mock interviews. That age-old advice about being yourself and relaxed still rings pretty true, and you should be ready for anything.

Surprisingly, this one question is one that stumps even experienced professionals, who immediately want to share information about their family, church, and where they volunteer. Don’t fall into that trap. Stay professional and keep it about the job at hand. But if you want to sneak in the fact that you make awesome brownies and love to share with the office, that will probably score you some “brownie points.”

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