How to answer the "Tell me about yourself" question

Read our sample answers for new grads and those looking for a job change.
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A job candidate with long curly hair, smiles at another person who is facing them

Do you get nervous when interviewers ask you to talk about yourself? You're not alone. This is a very common question candidates face in job interviews, and it can be tough to know how to answer. But don't worry – we're here to help. We have the must-know tips on how to answer the "Tell me about yourself" question in a job interview.

What’s the purpose of the "Tell me about yourself" question?

Job interviews can sometimes start off awkwardly, with lots of small talk and general questions that probably make both job seekers and recruiters a little nervous. The "Tell me about yourself" question is one of the ways interviewers steer the conversation toward job-related topics.

It’s also a great way for interviewers to get a quick overview of you as a candidate. They’re essentially looking for a summary of your professional experience. This serves as a starting point where they can ask you to expand on certain aspects of your answer.

Strategies for structuring your answer

If you’re unsure how to answer “tell me about yourself” there is a tried and true formula that makes things easier: Past, present, and future.

Begin by giving a brief overview of your professional experience to date. Then, talk about what you're doing currently, whether that's attending school or working in a related field. Finally, share your plans for the future and how this position fits into your larger career goals.

In each stage of your answer, give only general information. While you can quickly touch on some of your responsibilities, you shouldn’t do a deep dive into every successful project you’ve ever had and every task you do on a daily basis.

By taking this approach, you'll be able to give the interviewer a well-rounded sense of who you are without going off on tangents. Plus, talking about your future career goals will demonstrate that you're thinking about your career in a strategic way.

Examples of responses

Here are a few “Tell me about yourself” sample answers. Do not use these word-for-word, they’re only examples to give you an idea of what recruiters are expecting to hear.

Sample answer for new graduates

I’d be glad to tell you about myself! I graduated from FSU last summer with a major in software engineering. At college, I was involved in the programming society where we met up and created simple apps, helped campus events with their websites, and took part in programming competitions against other colleges.

Since graduating I’ve been interning at ABC Company in their IT department. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’ve mainly worked doing QA on their new customer app launch under the supervision of a group of senior programmers. It’s been quite challenging, but I’ve learned a lot about mobile app development, UX design, and the importance of thorough app testing before launch.

It’s been really interesting to see how a talented IT department works together on such a big project, and it’s really helped me fine-tune my teamwork and communication skills. This internship has solidified my interest in software engineering. Moving forward, I’d love to work at an organization like yours. I think it would be a great opportunity to work on a variety of software projects and grow professionally in a nationwide company.

Sample answer for candidates with work experience

Of course I can tell you about myself! I’ve been interested in logistics and supply chains for years. When I was 21, I landed my first job in a distribution warehouse where I learned to work in a fast-paced environment as part of a close-knit team. This led me to get my first forklift driver qualification in 2015.

Shortly afterward I started working for XYZ Company in their Texas distribution center where I was hired as a forklift operator team leader. I led a team of 17 forklift drivers and oversaw safety protocols and scheduling of shift rotations. After that, I took a job as a junior warehouse manager at NYC Distribution Inc. in 2019. I’ve been there for almost 4 years, and I feel I’ve developed as a professional.

I feel very comfortable supervising large teams, and I’m passionate about health and safety in warehouse and distribution environments. I often volunteer for internal safety committees where I’ve learned to improve my communication skills and have been able to adapt to change during the pandemic. In the future, I’d be interested in more senior warehouse management roles. I think my experience would be valuable for a large multinational distribution company, and I would love to apply my skills to a dynamic and modern warehouse environment that employs new technology.

For more tips on how to ace your next interview, see the other articles on our job-seeker resource page! If you need a helping hand with your job search, the Adecco USA team is here to help. We make it easier for thousands of candidates just like you to land their dream job and develop their career. Get in touch with us today to see how we can set you up for success!

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