How To Answer The Inevitable Interview Question: ‘Tell Me About Yourself’

It seems that just about every job candidate waits on pins and needles for a single and inevitable moment in the interview … that moment when the interviewer says, “So, tell me about yourself.”

It strikes fear in the hearts of fine jobseekers everywhere. In reality, though, the question is an excellent opportunity for job candidates to shine. It is just a matter of choosing, adopting and owning a strategy that highlights the candidate’s finest qualities, experiences and goals with confidence — without coming across as arrogant.

The Winning Answer Strategy

Are you facing a series of interviews with hiring managers who probably can’t wait to learn more about you via a disarmingly pointed question?

If you are, there is no reason to worry — you can handle this.

With the right strategy, you can ace this question, relieving you from stress and self-doubt while giving you handy tools to help you communicate important background information and desired professional traits for the interviewer that are essential to the position.

The Present-Past-Future Formula

Some time ago, recruiting professionals recognized the struggle that jobseekers consistently face when the “tell me about yourself” question occurs. Over the years, the present-past-future formula has become a leading strategy recommended to earnest job candidates by hiring professionals.

The formula is perfect because it provides you with a simple, three-part “script.” It is concise, comprehensive, easy to remember, and sure to fill you with confidence — which is often more than half the battle.

Most importantly, this strategy gives recruiting managers a panoramic image of who you are, how you work, and what your goals are — especially related to their organization — in a three-point snapshot.

Take a look at a few good present-past-future samples to get an idea of what might work for you:

  • I currently work for a small business — with a staff of 30 — as the office manager. The whole team is fantastic, but I feel like I’m ready — and incredibly eager — to take on a busier office environment. Since you house 150 employees at this location alone, I think it is the perfect place for me to up my game.
  • After receiving my communications degree, I knew I wanted to work in public relations. While searching for the perfect job, I worked as a server for a catering company where I made many great connections, including my last employer that owned an advertising agency. Although I have learned the finer points of marketing and advertising at my current position, I crave the experience of managing talent’s public images. I believe I could become a solid and reliable resource for your local media and sports clients.

While the second sample was not in the official order, it still hit all the same points of present, past and future. Mix it up, but make sure that it is something you can easily tap into.

A bad example might look like the following:

  • • I have worked at my current job as a receptionist for three years and have built some good relationships. I learned a lot, too. In my spare time, I paint in watercolors and run long distance. I think I can easily learn the ropes here and help as an executive assistant.

This answer does not work for a number of reasons — including the issue that the answer seems disjointed, unprepared and disinterested. The interviewer might wonder whether this person had not prepared well or simply did not want the job.

Do You Need More Help Preparing for Important Job Interviews?

Do you feel like your job interview answers sound a little robotic, uncertain or insincere? If you are having problems with any phase of the interviewing process, our recruiting team at Whitman Associates is here to help hone your skills. We are happy to sit down with you to work out strategies tailored to your strengths and comforts while helping you avoid any pitfalls.

Contact us today to talk about interviewing issues, any of our listed jobs that interest you, or whatever else we can do to help you land your dream job.