How to Answer That 'Tell Me About Yourself' Question

Essential guide to how to introduce and tell the interviewers about yourself in a job interview. You just have to choose which structure is the best for you according to your level of experience.

How to Answer That 'Tell Me About Yourself' Question

We feel awkward when people ask us to introduce ourselves and even do our best to avoid it. But, we couldn't avoid this question during a job interview. Do you know that this is often the first question that the interviewer asks, and it's the first impression of who you are? If you don't make it right, it becomes difficult for you to change their perception of you later. Here's why:

Anchoring bias: People tend to rely too heavily on one piece of information when they make decisions.

What it means: If you don't introduce yourself properly and direct them to focus on the wrong message that you have just said, they will rely on this perception they have formed when they make decisions (either to hire you or to carry on the conversations with you).

Confirmation bias: The tendency to interpret and focus on the information in a way that confirms their preconceptions.

What it means: After you introduce yourself and they have formed a perception about you, they will continue to search and remember about you in a way that only confirms their preconceptions.

Conservatism bias: People don't revise their beliefs sufficiently even when they have new evidence.

What it means: You may think that you can change how they feel about you with your work and what you say later, but people still judge you and believe what they want to believe even they have new information about you.

Realizing how important a self-introduction is, we will share how you can tell the interviewers about yourself when you attend a job interview.

We will be focusing on what you can say and how you should say it. Before we start, we should first know the difference between introducing yourself and a "tell me about yourself" question.

When you introduce yourself, it should be quick and concise enough to let people know who you are and probably also why you are here.

You introduce yourself to get information or help from people, or it can be just a polite gesture.

A "tell me about yourself" is often a question asked by someone else, usually done to know more about you, depending on the occasion.

How to Introduce Yourself

When you attend a job interview, you probably have to introduce yourself to the receptionist and anyone handling the interview preparation. You have done your research and preparation for your interview, and you know that Jennifer Swift will interview you at 2 p.m., so here's what you can say:

Hi, my name is Lorde Perry. I have an interview with Jennifer Swift at 2 p.m.
Good afternoon. I am here for an interview as Marketing Director with Jennifer Swift.
Hi, I am Lorde Perry, and I am coming for an interview as Marketing Director at 2 p.m.

You inform the person who you are, and why you are here so they can guide you on what to do next. Don't be too serious about what you say here.

This is because what's important is your mannerism. Remember that the interviewers might observe you from the moment you step into the company because they want to understand your personality and characteristics—something crucial but more challenging for the interviewers to know when you're in the interview room.

Here are what you need to do:

  1. 👀 Make a direct eye contact with the person.
  2. 😊 Smile. You can choose to shake your hand with the person or not, but you have to greet the person.
  3. 👄 Introduce yourself.
  4. 👌 Say "thank you" after you get the guidance.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

As long as you don't seem to be rude, you really have nothing to worry about this self-introduction before the interview. So now the friendly receptionist escorts you to the interview room.

When you meet the interviewer for the first time, you may want to introduce yourself. However, this is not the time to get lengthy about your self-introduction yet. It's more like a polite greeting. Here's what you can say:

Hi Ms. Jennifer, I am Lorde Perry. I'm excited to be here today to talk with you about the position.
Hello, I am Lorde Perry. It's nice to meet you today, Ms. Jennifer.
Hi, I am Lorde Perry. It's great to meet with you today to talk about the role as a Marketing Director.
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Again, it doesn't matter how you introduce yourself. The point here is to greet Jennifer, show that you are happy to discuss the role with her, and demonstrate that you are confident:

  1. ✨ We'd always encourage you to address the interviewers by using an honorific with their name. Everyone likes to feel respected, no matter the culture. For example, Ms. Jennifer, or Sir/Madam—if you don't know the name. Just like dressing up, it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  2. 🤝 Give Jennifer a firm handshake, if appropriate. Otherwise, you can give a 30 degrees keirei bow instead.
  3. 😊 Smile. Practice your smile, it should not look like an awkward or a shy smile ❌😅. You should appear to be confident and happy to be here.
  4. 📄 Hand over any required document, if any.
  5. 😫 Sit down and don't slouch in your chair. If you have any bag with you, you can put it on the floor and beside your chair.

How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself" Question

So now Jennifer asks that famous interview question: "Can you tell me about yourself?"

Well, this is often a question asked by the interviewers to kickstart the interview. The recruiters or hiring managers may also ask questions like:

"Can you introduce yourself?"

"What do you do?"

"Who are you?"

But they are all the same question. Jennifer Swift asks you this question because she wants to start the conversation in a friendlier tone, know how you sell yourself through how you communicate, and more importantly if you are a good fit for who she is finding.

Generally, Jennifer is seeking for information to answer this crucial question in her head:

The interviewers always think from their perspectives about what you can contribute to the company, not what you have done and what you want to learn.

Remember that your purpose at this point of time is to sell yourself. During a job interview, it is always important to keep in mind that your answers—regardless of what kind of question is asked, should always be centered around what is your value to the company, but NOT what you have done in the past and also NOT what you wish you can learn from the company. This has always been the number one mistake that most candidates make that we hope you don't.

Hence, a "tell me about yourself" question should explain how your experience or education prepared you for this role. Here are some structures you can follow:

Structure 1 (for fresh graduate or anyone with experience):

  1. What do you do, and what's your background?
  2. What is the skill that you have, and what have you achieved? Talk about a skill that is a critical requirement stated in the job description and provide some contexts and proof.
  3. What are you looking for to contribute to this company with your background and skill? This contribution that you mention should be something that is a primary KPI in your field in terms of revenue, cost, and time.

Structure 2 (if you have prior working experience):

  1. Talk about your working experiences in the past that are relevant to the current position only.
  2. What have you achieved in these roles?
  3. What do you know about this important role?
  4. Why do you think you are suitable for this role?

Structure 3 (if you have rich experiences):

  1. What you do and how many years of experience you have. Remember, talk about only the relevant and recent ones.
  2. Highlight your career achievements that are relevant to the role you are applying for.
  3. What is the major challenge that you faced while working and how you solved it?
  4. What do you hope to contribute to this company that you are applying to?

You can choose whichever structure that you think works best for you. The most common answer structure for this question is often about your age, where you come from, what you have worked as before, and your strength.

However, we think this approach does not help sell yourself directly and answer the "what value can you contribute to me and the company" question. You should always highlight your best selling points that are highly relevant to what the interviewers are looking for, even though this is just a simple question. You don't want to let the interviewers feel boring with all information from you that is irrelevant to them right from the beginning.

Many people have problems communicating the achievements they have or making it sound convincing to the interviewers. When you talk about your accomplishments, always do your best to quantify them.

How to quantify your achievements:

  1. Use action verbs like achieved, reduced, increased, improved, served, saved, managed, featured, developed.
  2. Achievements can be in terms of money, time, scores, rating, volume, ranking, reputable or big names, awards.
  3. Try putting it in numbers. It can be a range, a percentage, an exact number, or a comparison.
  4. Be careful when you talk about your achievements, so you don't reveal the secret or top information of your previous (or current) employer.

How To Demonstrate Good Communication Skills

Other than mannerism that we should have all the time, how you deliver the message is essential. According to GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, the employers rated oral communication as the top skill for them to consider putting a candidate in a mid-level position in their company.

When an employer is looking for new hires, they look for someone to fill in the position and a candidate who can build the leadership pipelines.

When you are called for an interview, the interviewers often want to meet you to see if you are a good fit and how you present yourself and communicate—something they cannot know from your resume.

Specifically, they want to know your oral and nonverbal communication, which is a critical part of your presentation and leadership skills.

Also, it helps to build strong interpersonal skills that will build trust with your colleagues and clients. You have to let the interviewers perceive you as a confident, trustworthy, authentic, and enthusiastic person.

You need to demonstrate this during the interview, not just to answer the "tell me about yourself" question but the entire conversation.

You can have some tips here on what exactly you need to take note of when you speak to be perceived as someone professional and confident:

Now you know what you should include in your answer to the self-introduction and "tell me about yourself" question. But your interview preparation should not stop here.

You should do further interview research on the job role and the company because this research will influence your psychology and confidence when you attend the actual interview.

Your answer would also be more relevant, which will signal the interviewers that you are really interested in this position.

After you have done your preparation, you can practice your interview online to rehearse your interview—specifically your communication skills.

This is an important first impression you have to nail from the moment you arrive at the company or join that conference call for a virtual interview.

Rehearso allows you to practice your job interview by giving random questions each time you practice to help you get used to performing under stress and knowing if you have done sufficient preparation.

On Rehearso, you can choose the 'Job Interview' option to speak under stress with the different random questions being asked for each practice, or 'Others' option if you just want to practice for this 'tell me about yourself' question to know if the way you communicate needs any improvement.

If there is any weakness, Rehearso will present you with feedback and improvement suggestions to refine it. More importantly, it will also let you know if the interviewers will perceive you as a confident candidate from the way you communicate.

Developing communication skills is essential in your career growth and success. Suppose you have good communication skills and you always answer the interview questions by focusing on what you can contribute to the company. In that case, there's no question that you cannot answer professionally and confidently.

Do you have any other questions about the interview that you want to ask? You can drop a comment below.

All the best in your job interview!