Tell me about yourself! Be Prepared to Answer This Open-Ended Question

When I left my job in Chile a couple of years ago, I interviewed several people who were interested in taking over for me.

Because I wanted to get to know them and their reasons for applying for this position, I started each interview with the same question:

Tell me about yourself.

This short phrase is actually one of the most common inquiries at job interviews and in networking situations.

(You may also hear it when making small talk at social events!)

For this reason, you want to prepare your response to this very open-ended question.

Keep this in mind: when someone asks you to tell them about yourself, this is your opportunity to shine! ☀

Rather than interrogating you with a list of questions, the other person is giving you control of the conversation and allowing you to decide what’s most important for them to know about you.

In an interview, this allows you to do the following:

  • highlight certain aspects of your job history
  • simplify your professional resume, and
  • connect the dots between your personal interests and your work experience.

This question can be particularly useful if you don’t have much experience with the job you’re applying for because you can share the skills and knowledge you’ve gained outside of the professional environment.

Keep Your Answer Concise

In my experience working with clients and students, I’ve noticed that most people share too much detail in response to this question.

They often walk people step-by-step through their resume.

Remember, the interview is your chance to share your personality, explain why you’re passionate about your work or studies, and express your interests.

By responding to this question in an interesting, engaging way, you’re inviting the other person to connect with you and highlighting what you most want them to know.

Create Better Responses by Staying Focused

As you’ll learn in the video lesson, you should come into interviews and open-ended conversations with a clear idea of what you want people to know about you.

Having a goal or intention for the interaction will guide your responses and make it easier for you to express yourself.

Considering how you want the other person to feel about you by the end of your interaction will help the conversation flow more naturally.

Use your response to point the other person towards the information you’re especially interested in sharing!

This Question is Just the Beginning

Remember, this question is simply the starting point of the conversation.

As you continue to get to know each other better through more small talk or the rest of the interview, you’ll be able to ask and answer more specific questions.

Your response to this question should encourage further questions, rather than answer all of them.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn! After watching the video lesson, tell me about yourself in the comments.

What would you most like me to know about you and your goals for our future interactions?

Ready to communicate more effectively in conversations? Learn communication skills that enable you to connect with other people and engage in natural conversations and professional discussions. Get started here.

4 thoughts on “Tell me about yourself! Be Prepared to Answer This Open-Ended Question”

  1. I am a meteorology Assistant. I charge with weather observations. The datas we collect are send to tower for be used by air traffic controllers ,for the taking off and landing of planes.
    I am also a French teacher. I taught French at LOPA Elementary School Duluth Ga.
    Can you get me right, of what I am struggling to say?
    Waiting to hear from you.

    • Nice to meet you, Fidelis! Thanks for introducing yourself. Yes, your meaning is clear! 🙂 I would make a couple of small changes. We say “I’m in charge of” and data is already a plural noun so you don’t need the “s.” We also use “take off” as a noun (during take off and landing). Your job history sounds interesting!

  2. This one is guaranteed question asked to me while facing interviews but all the time i felt like i haven’t prepared enough but from now onward i am going to prepare this question according to your tips. So thank you for this article. Going to save for further use.

    • This is a question you need to consider again and again throughout your career because your answer will probably change with time and experience!


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