You hear it at almost every job interview — “Tell me about yourself”

Don’t get caught off-guard!

This is your chance to show how lucky they would be to hire you.

As IT recruiters, we interview people everyday. It’s easy to tell who’s ready and who’s not.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for responding to “Tell me about yourself” in a job interview.

Job Interview

Avoid statements like “I’m devoted, dedicated, hardworking”

These phrases seem canned and don’t reveal anything specific about your approach to work. Almost everyone says they are hardworking.

Employers want details. Why should they hire you over the next person interviewing for the same job? Show them how you actually demonstrated the positive qualities they need.

Give a specific example that shows how you demonstrated your work ethic to solve a problem. Did you work overtime, exceed expectations,help to save a project or keep a client?

Highlight key points about yourself that relate to the job

Is this your first job? Talk about your educational background, job-related journals or blogs you follow, and any job experience, group work or volunteer work you’ve done that shows your skills and dedication to your field.

If this isn’t your first job, highlight your previous job experience, how you keep your skills up-to-date, and positive results you achieved in previous projects.

Exact numbers and figures on how much money you made for or saved a company are music to a future employers ears!

Be sure to mention if you exceeded a past employer’s expectations or performance goals. You can bet the next question they’ll ask is how you plan to do this for their company.

Clipboard with checklist

Click this image to see the “tell me about yourself” checklist and plan the perfect answer.

Don’t wing it

If you try to come up with a response to awkward interview questions on the spot, you might forget some important information that sums up your experiences and background. Definitely plan your answer to this question beforehand.

Plan your answer with the Tell Me About Yourself Checklist.

Don’t ramble on

Keep your answer short and informative.

This is your interview version of the elevator speech, named that way because it should be about the length of an elevator ride – a few sentences long, maximum.

You want your answer to be detailed enough to get the most important information across without being boring.

Brand yourself

Create a personal tagline that tells the interviewer what you do and the  ‘X’ factor that sets you apart from everyone else.

Stay away from listing broad skill sets. Employers want to hear the juicy stuff. Let them hear specific results that came from your skill sets.

For example, if you’re a web developer, your response might go something like: “I’m a web developer with over 8 years in the business, 250 websites and apps built to date. I have a track record of doing X resulting in increased revenue of $1 million this quarter alone.”

This post may help: Top Programming Languages to Get a Job in Toronto in 2017

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice answering the question, “Tell me about yourself,” the better it flows when you introduce yourself.

Try recording yourself on a webcam or practice in front of a mirror to watch your body language and tone. This helps you change bad habits like fidgeting, talking too quietly or loudly, and avoiding eye contact with the interviewer.

Take 5 minutes lift your energy before the interview

It’s natural to feel nervous when you’re faced with a tough question like Tell me about yourself.

Take 5 minutes to do some easy mind hacks to calm yourself and feel more confident even if you’re nervous.

Basically, you want to smile, improve your posture and replace your worried thoughts to memories of good work you did in the past. Then think about the good work you would love to do to help this company in the future.

How do you reply to the question Tell me about yourself?

Please let me know in the comments section below.

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37 Comments

  1. Saiful

    Hi I am saiful,. fresh Graduates in Fashion Designer . I need some help How can I introduce myself. I dont have any experience yet. Please Help. .

    • Laura Upcott

      Congrats on your graduation! Talk about your portfolio and projects that show your work ethic and talent. You could tell them why you chose Fashion as a career.

  2. Jimin

    Hi! Im Jimin, Im fresh Graduates in IT. I need some help How can I introduce myself. I dont have any experience yet. Please Help. .

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Jimin,

      Congratulations on your graduation! You may not have work experience but you do have the freshest and most up-to-date training in your field. Why did chose your field of study? What contribution do you hope to make in your field? Did you do any projects that prepared you for this job?

      Research the company. Read their blog and about page. How can you help this company achieve their goals. Be specific. What do you admire about this company and how can you help them strengthen that?

      Best of luck!

  3. Waleed

    Reply for Interview Question:
    As my basic intro is given on Resume. I would like to mention those aspects of my personality, which are not written in Resume. I’m Quick learner. I have ability to adjust in any changing environment quickly. I’m trouble shooter not a trouble maker. I have ability & experience of to motivate and lead a team towards successful completion of long term & short term projects and assignments. I’m really enthusiastic to get training and learning opportunities to polish my leadership qualities. In short words, according to a renowned management rule, I’m among those 20% people who bring 80% progress in organisation.
    (Kindly give feedback, regarding this reply to interview question for multinational company job interview)

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Waleed, Love the part where you say, “I’m among those 20% of people who bring 80% of the progress in an organisation.” You can make this claim believable and memorable with a real work example of how you did that for a company you worked for. Anyone can say that they have all of those great qualities that employers want. But they want to see how you demonstrate those qualities for real.

      • Waleed

        Hy,
        I have an important interview in coming days. I want to do rehearsal for that. Can I contact you personally to get some guidelines from your precious experience and knowledge?
        Thanks

  4. Adrian

    Hi, My name is adrian & I started my career as a multimedia designer with 2+ years experience with designing graphic and multimedia content & my recent career was worked in ‘X’ company with 11+ years of front-end development experience developing web and mobile application.
    Currently i seeking for a opportunity to learn and grow, team oriented and a happy workplace.
    To know more about me, please visit my LinkedIn Profile
    Looking forward to your response.

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Adrian, You’re creating a great profile of experience and skills that companies need. Way to go! Keep adding your work to your LinkedIn profile and keep adding to your toolbox of skills. The wonderful thing about being a multimedia designer is that you can always show people your work. If you ever find yourself between gigs, you might be able to pick up some projects online to add to your portfolio. Read this article from first, “How to make sure that freelance job listing is legit

  5. Ritu Panjwani

    Hi, My name is Jo & I have 5+ years of experience in quality function domain working as a Senior process engineer. I started my career as a software quality assurance with an experience of CMMi level 5 implementation & then moved to “X” company. Worked here in implementation of ISO 9001:2008 & currently upcoming 9001:2015

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Ritu, Your answer is good but it may have too much technical jargon. When you first introduce yourself to someone and you use technical terms like “CMMi level 5” and “ISO:…”, they may be confused and annoyed. This could hurt your chances of moving forward with the job. When you introduce yourself, try to explain what you do in a way that anyone can understand.

  6. Laura Upcott

    Hi Rahman,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Be careful about using acronyms like ECE, which means Early Childhood Education to me.

    Your description lists things you’ve done, but I’m not sure what job you want or your speciality.

    Laura

  7. Rahman

    Hi I am Rahman

    I have completed my Diploma in ECE in the year of 2013 and i have 4 years of experience in XXXX industry. I held two positions in my previous job i.e as line inspector Quality assurance. During this part i have successfully completed two projects with good results. After that management promoted me to a responsible position as an In charge of raw material inspection. During the past year with our i have completed another project successfully. And i need another reputed company to exhibit and enhance my skills and knowledge.

    My hobbies are watching and playing cricket and interested to learn new things always.

  8. D

    Hi Laura, I am in my final year of education at San Diego State university where I have been working towards my Masters in Computer Science. I expect to graduate in May 2017.
    My forte is in Java but I am open and very enthusiastic to learn new languages and technologies.

    I have gained further experience aside from my studies, through the summer internship at one of the startups named Socialinfluen.se. So I was responsible for full lifecycle development of software, from initial requirement gathering to design, coding, testing and implementation. And I have also worked with version control system as Git and open source operating system like Linux.

    Talking about the projects, I have implemented an application using Hadoop Map Reduce, AWS EMR and S3 to count word pairs. I have a developed Python based application on Sentimental Analysis of Twitter data for Presidential Election. Also, I created one application in python Django which copies file from one location to other and send notification on success to user.

    I’d really describe myself as a person with a versatile skill-set, a lot of integrity and believer in team efforts.

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi D,

      Congratulations on getting your Masters in CS!

      Based on your summary of qualifications, I’d say your job prospects look good. Include you key qualifications as bullet points in your email when you apply for jobs. Depending on the job opportunity you’re going for, you might want to emphasize Hadoop and Python as well as the Java in the job interview. Emphasize these in your Github and LinkedIn profiles too and recruiters will find you.

      You could introduce yourself in a job interview by saying something like, “I”m excited about this job because (say why you like the opportunity at this company). My forte is Java. I’m strong in Python and Hadoop. I love learning new languages and I can quickly get up to speed with whatever you need.”

      Research the company ahead of time to make sure that you can cater your introduction to their needs.

      Way to go! You have a great career ahead of you.

      Laura

  9. Awadhesh Verma

    I’m a front end developer 2+ years of professional experience. I am responsible for front end development and lead small team.

  10. Ndyabahika Elisha

    Iam Ndyabahika Elisha with a bachelor’s of social sciences from makerere university,
    I have previously worked with Spear Motors Uganda Limited as a sales aget and from my work I have gaine skills which helps me perform dutie and responsibilities that will be assigned to me

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Ndyabahika,

      This might help you:

      I have a bachelor degree in Social Sciences from Makerere University. Also, I worked in Sales with Spear Motors Uganda. Now I’m excited to work hard and use my skills to make your company more successful.

  11. Ashwini

    Hi Laura..My name is Ashwini . i am 24 years old .I am graduated from pune University & i have to total experience 5 years . but i am confused because my experience belong to different-different fled . what i do (example – i have experience in business development, back office support , hr department & marketing fled but different ways …mes..retail marketing , tell marketing , fled marketing )

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Ashwini, I’m not sure that I understand your question. Are you worried because your work experience is different from what you studied at university? Tell employers about your work experience and skills that are related to the job you want.

      • amna

        Hi laura, i want to know i have experience in SEO, web designing and front end development. i am OCP in oracle 11g as DBA. i am going for an interview for hadoop. What should i say in my introduction statement? really looking forward for your response.

        • Laura Upcott

          Hi Amna, Congrats on getting the interview! First I want to assure you that they are interviewing you because they believe you are qualified for the job. Otherwise they wouldn’t waste their time and your. Which means they basically want to find out if they like you and trust you. So keep your answer to the question “tell me about yourself” friendly, brief and simple. Say something like, “My experience in SEO, front-end development and as an Oracle DBA give me a big advantage as a Hadoop developer because….”

  12. Laura Upcott

    Hi Fernando, In an interview you could say something like, “I design beautiful websites with clean organized code. Over the past couple of years I created ____ (number) websites. My favorite one is _________.” Then you could show them some of your best work on your laptop.

    • Saraswathi

      Hi Laura..My name is Saraswathi and i am from bangalore.I have 4yrs of experience as a technical support engineer in international voice process.could you plz help me about the interview questions and answers

  13. fernando

    I’m a front end developer for approximately 2 years of professional experience.
    I write clean code, organized and semantic.
    I spend my time on planning before writing a code, because i believe that this way is much better.
    I am a quick learner and I like to learn new things.

  14. MS

    Hi Laura,

    Myself Manish, I have done B.tech in E&C in 2005 and presently working as Sr. IT Professional in IT (Security).
    I provide support (security) for application and infrastructure in IT domain.

    Please help me out for my best tagline.

    Thanks
    MS

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Manish, It’s great if you say something about your approach to IT security and how you solve the IT security problem for your employers. What makes you great at what you do?

  15. Sergey

    I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from University with a degree in master of Information Security. I’m an frond-end developer with 2 years of experience developinging different websites and implementing them — from landing pages to big projects. I am inquisitive. I am a quick learner and I like to learn new things.

    I have spent the last two years developing my skills as a front-end developer for freelance, where I have won several performance awards. I love create websites and fixing problems.

    I feel I’m now ready for a more challenging assignment and this position really excites me.

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Sergey,

      That’s an impressive list of accomplishments!

      You could replace the “I am inquisitive. I am a quick learner and I like to learn new things” part with:

      “I’m an awarding winning front-end developer AND I’m an information security expert. Which means I build websites that are beautiful, fast and secure.”

      You have a powerful and unique combination of front and backend skills that employers need. It’s important to communicate that in the interview.

      Best of luck!

      Laura

      • Sergey

        Thank you, Laura

  16. sudhakar

    hi..,
    I am sudhakar, a post graduate in masters of technology from the department of computer science and engineering. Currently i am working with XXXXXXX for the last two years. I joined there as a intern guy during my academic project. During the internship i was assigned with a video filter.
    That the codec acchived worlds best performance figures, and I am very happy to say module is the best optmized one. After my intern, i continued as a regular employee in the same company. when ever i asked to do some new work.., i feel good because i got a chance to learn things again.

    • Laura Upcott

      Hi Sudhakar,

      I really like your answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself” because it shows how much you love your work and how proud you are of the good work that you do. It’s good that you say that you enjoy being asked to do new work that requires you to learn something new. I can see why the company kept you on after your internship. You are motivated to do great work, and you are updating your skills and learning new skills.

      Congratulations on getting your career off to such a great start!

      Laura

      • suresh

        iam suresh . ,i completed my graduatiion in computer science and engineering.i am selected as a MSA(microsoft student associate) in my college and i gave some of microsoft technology seminars in my college.i have the leadership qualities also. i worked as a project leader in my major project.my weakness is I never feel comfortable untill I finish my work. If anyone ask help, I never say no.My short term goal is to replace myself in a reputed company.I want to become a successful person in both Personal and professional life.

      • Kiran Meena

        Hello,
        I am an architecture student looking to find an internship and I just want to know “what is my tagline”. My greatest asset is solving problem. I am good at connecting people, making friends and I am very punctual of time. Can you please help me in writing a tagline for myself.This would really help a lot if you can help me out.

        • Laura Upcott

          Hi Kiran,

          It’s important to put things in your tagline that make you uniquely valuable in your field. You want to highlight things that are beyond the qualities that an employer expects all interns to have. They expect all of their interns to show up on time and be friendly. But problem solving is an ability that’s more difficult to find. That’s where you can focus your tag line. How to you apply problem solving to make clients delighted with your work?

          Best of luck with finding an internship :)
          Laura