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How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself

How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself

“Tell me about yourself,” is one of the most frequently asked questions in an interview. In fact, it’s usually the first one. The key to answering it well is to be concise but informative. Keep the answer to under 60 seconds and focus on how your skills and personality traits are related to the position you’re interviewing for.

Approach it as if you just wrote an autobiography and you have to summarize it in four sentences. Focus on the highlights: Talk about where you’re from, your major and your future goals. Then add on a sentence at the end that describes why you’re sitting in the interview and why you’d be a good fit for the role.

Here’s how to do it.

Talk about your background.

Answering this question well is about more than just mentioning your skills or professional experience. It’s also about putting those things into context with the rest of your life. At the beginning of your answer you should explain where you’re from, where you’re attending school and what you’re majoring in.

Describe your interests.

Next, talk a little bit about your interests including what led you to apply for the role. For example, if you’re passionate about journalism, explain why the field excites you and why you’d like to be a part of it.

Mention your past experience.

Once you’ve described your interests, explain how your past internship and work experience have shaped your decision to seek out this role. If you don’t have previous experience in the field (or a related on) you can talk about relevant classes you’ve taken or transferable skills you’ve developed through class projects or extracurriculars.

Explain why you’re excited about the opportunity.

Wrap up your answer with one sentence explaining why you’re excited about this opportunity. Be sure to mention something you admire about the position or the company, and connect it back to your goals.

Say something like: “I’m originally from New York City and I’m currently a Junior at UT Austin. I decided to study English because I’ve always loved reading and writing and studying literature in general. I’m now looking to gain experience in the world of journalism, a field I’m passionate about because of its ability to inform and engage readers. I’ve written extensively for my campus newspaper, reporting on campus news and events, and I’m excited to gain more valuable reporting experience by working on the types of stories your company publishes.”

Once you have your answer nailed down, practice it in the mirror several times. This will help you get comfortable with all the points you want to emphasize and will ensure that you sound confident without being stiff.

Answering “Tell me about yourself” is the first step in connecting with your interviewer and a great chance to distinguish yourself from the majority of candidates who may be fumbling over their answer. So practice your story to make sure it reflects the thoughtfulness and detail you’ve put into your response and go into the interview confident that you’ll be putting your best foot forward.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About an Accomplishment That You’re Most Proud Of.

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