A Simple Formula for Answering "Tell Me About Yourself"
“So, tell me about yourself.”
What seems like such a simple question can really make you sweat, especially in an interview. What, exactly, should you share—not just to build rapport, but to show that you’re the perfect fit for the job?
Fear not, job seekers: There’s a super-simple formula that will help you answer this question with ease. Watch this quick video as our CEO Kathryn Minshew gives a simple tip from our career expert Lily Zhang, then try it out for yourself!
(Can’t watch the video at work? Don’t worry—we’ve also copied the transcript below.)
How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”
So, the first question you’re probably going to get in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Now, this is not an invitation to recite your entire life story or even to go bullet by bullet through your resume. Instead, it’s probably your first and best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you’re the right one for the job.
A formula I really like to use is called the Present-Past-Future formula. So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.
Let me give you an example:
If someone asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:
“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”
Remember throughout your answer to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager when they’re thinking about this particular position and this company. And ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the hiring manager already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.
Photo of microphone courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
Kathryn Minshew is the CEO & Founder of The Muse and loves helping people find careers they actually enjoy. She has spoken at MIT and Harvard, appeared on The TODAY Show and CNN, and contributes on career and entrepreneurship topics to the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. Before founding The Muse, Kathryn worked on vaccine introduction in Rwanda and Malawi with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and was previously at the management consultancy McKinsey & Company.