“Tell me about yourself” is the most common interview question asked of job candidates, which is why it’s a good idea that you come up with a great answer.
First, know that many interviewers use this as an ice breaker, a chance to establish rapport, whether it’s for an in-person interview or over the phone.
Second, don’t try and wing it. Since you know there’s a really good chance you’re going to be asked this question, you need to think about what you want to convey to this employer in a few sentences.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Be positive about yourself. “Well, there’s really not much to tell….” isn’t a good way to start. Instead, think about something you’ve recently accomplished in your latest role. Or, if you’ve been unemployed, you can talk about a previous role and the skills you used that are relevant the job and what you’ve been doing lately to keep up your skills: “I’m really proud of the fact that I completed certification in XYZ or will be completing my online classes this spring.”
2. Don’t include unnecessary details. Since you want these comments to be concise and engaging, don’t add things that don’t advance your story or aren’t related to the job you’re seeking.
3. Be engaging. Employers are also looking for soft skills, which means you need to be able to communicate in a professional but friendly way. They want to see you make eye contact, show some enthusiasm when talking about your skills and smile.
4. Work on verbal tics. You never know the kind of things that might bug an interviewer, but it’s a good idea to work on eliminating bad habits such as saying “like” too much (“It’s like, I’ve always, like, wanted to work in, like, the music industry.”) That’s also goes for “you know,” “uh” and beginning every sentence with “so.”
Finally, remember that you don’t want to begin reciting your resume when you’re asked this question. Keep your answer between 30 seconds and about 1.5 minutes — try to see what feels comfortable to you. This is just an opening for your interview, and you’ll have more opportunities to talk about specifics.
If you can, ask a friend or colleague to listen to your statement. Don’t memorize it, just feel comfortable with it so that you’re focused more on engaging the interviewer rather than rattling off an answer.