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‘Tell Me About Yourself’: Answering This Crucial Interview Question

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By Rowe Leathers, GCDF
Career Coach, APUS

“Tell me about yourself.” Those are the most anticipated four words going into an interview. Most applicants have difficulty answering it, mainly because many people do not truly understand what is being asked.

  • When a potential employer makes the request, what is he or she really trying to find out about you?
  • Where do you begin your statement and where do you end?
  • How much information do you provide, and more importantly, how much personal information should you offer?

As You Answer an Interview Question, Keep It Professional

There is neither a right nor wrong answer – just the right way to answer. The question is broad enough to give you leeway to draft an answer unique to you.

You have carte blanche to frame a professional answer to present yourself in the best light. So, how do you do it?

When you’re answering interview questions, the key word to remember is “professional.” Structure your answer to summarize your professional career. Leave personal information out.

All information you provide should be about your career success, aspirations, and the contributions you will make to the organization — Rowe Leathers, Career Coach

Responses to Interview Questions Help Employers Visualize You in That Job

Your story should begin where your career trajectory turned toward the target role and how your education and previous job roles have come together to support your qualifications. Basically, tell the story of how your career background is relevant to the employer, and how it brought you to his or her organization. The amount of information to provide should be just enough to capture the interviewer’s interest to see you as a successful team member.

Remember, do not offer information such as political views, opinions or negative comments in general. Unnecessary information about your family life, health, financial challenges or anything else personal can create a bias that may affect their decision about hiring you.

All information you provide to an interview question should be about your career success, aspirations and the contributions you will make to the organization. Structuring your answer and practicing ahead of time will help you feel confident when you are in the hot seat. Remember, your story is unique and as the author, you are the storyteller.

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Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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