by Kara Luton

How to answer the dreaded “tell me about yourself” interview question

Photo by on Unsplash

So, you’ve landed an interview with a company you’ve been dreaming about working at. You sit down and, after some small chat, the interviewer says “tell me a little bit about yourself.”

This common question results in the first impression at your interview, but is often the most overlooked. In my experience from being on both sides of the interview, I believe that by crafting a unique and memorable answer to this one question, you can land that job. Here’s how.

Don’t recount your resume

A big mistake I see people make is using this question to go over their résumé.

Don’t do this! Your interviewer has already looked over your résumé and probably has it sitting in front of them during the interview. They don’t need you to go over it again.

Practice over and over again and prepare answers to any obvious questions your interviewer may have

You wouldn’t show up for a talk you’re giving at a conference without practicing over and over again, right? Make sure you don’t show up for an interview without doing the same.

Sit down a few days before and think of what questions an interviewer may have for you after looking at your résumé. Then prep how you will answer them.

For example, I’m a coding bootcamp graduate who used to work in music publicity (read my career transition story here). A potential employer looking at my résumé may wonder why I wanted to transition from publicity to tech, and they’d probably ask about the process I went through.

And so, that’s one of the main things I address in my answer, because I know that will be the biggest question and could cause the most hesitation when it comes to a potential employer choosing me for the job.

Take a look at your own résumé as if you’ve never looked at it before, and figure out what those questions would be for you —and be sure those are your main points in your answer.

Find your quirk

For the next portion of your answer, find something that will make you stand out. You want your interview to be memorable, and this is a great way to accomplish that.

Have you started your own meetup group? Do you volunteer consistently at a charity? Are you super passionate about a certain sport? Find your quirk. Make sure to mention it and tie it in to why you’d be a great choice for the position.

I personally have mentioned that while I was at The Iron Yard’s front-end bootcamp, I co-founded the Nashville Tech Ladies® chapter where I organize quarterly professional development meetups for women in all areas of tech. Sometimes I’ll even mention how I grew up doing ballet. I’ll describe how ballet has taught me many things, like how to pay attention to the little details, that I am now able to translate into my career.

Pick something that is uniquely you, and it will make a lasting impression.

Explain why you applied for the position

Lastly, round out the question with why you want the position and why you are excited about it. You applied to the position for a reason — so tell the interviewer why you did it. They saw something in you, and this is a great moment to let them know why you think it’s a good fit.

What are your tips for answering this question? Follow me on Twitter and let me know!

Kara Luton (@karaluton) | Twitter
The latest Tweets from Kara Luton (@karaluton). Front end developer + former music publicist. Retired ballerina…