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Answering the Dreaded Request: “Tell Me About Yourself”

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By Cathy Francois
Contributor, Career Servicesgrueling-interview-tips

When I do interview coaching, I find that many of my clients are uncomfortable with the open-ended request, “Tell me about yourself.” It’s a broad question that can be answered in an infinite amount of ways. Though it can be daunting, it’s typically one of the first questions asked during an interview and puts you in a position to really set the tone and direction of the interview, so your response better be good. Before you respond with a haphazard hodgepodge of your unorganized thoughts, consider my advice and remix the question.

Think about what the interviewer is really asking and what they may want to know about you. When you respond to the seemingly simple “Tell me about yourself” request, consider answering as if you were asked one of these questions (without referencing the remixed question, of course):

  • What do you want me to know about you?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What makes you the best candidate for the job?
  • What excites you about this opportunity?
  • How will you be able to immediately contribute to our team?
  • What are the most relevant skills and experience you bring to the table?
  • Give me your best elevator pitch.
  • What makes this position a good fit for you?
  • What sets you apart?
  • What makes you a winner?

Consider the position’s qualifications, the problems you would be expected to solve, the interviewer, and the culture of the organization before deciding on your angle. A great reply takes work, and the cookie cutter responses your competitors might spew out are not going to cut it. Are you in it to win it? Well then, tell me about yourself.

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