5 Things to Include When Asked to “Tell Me About Yourself”

Tell me about yourself.

What is your typical answer to this dreaded question? Do you summarize your resume? Do you go into a deep personal reflection? Do you struggle to find the words?

Instinct tells us that we should be able to talk about ourselves easily, but have you ever tried to write your own bio for a company or personal website? It’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carefully craft it and practice for when someone asks you to “tell me about yourself.”

The truth is, we will never be able to summarize everything about ourselves in a 20 to 30 second segment that a potential employer wants to hear, so it’s up to us to think about the impression we want to leave with that employer (or first date, or new friend, or whoever you’re telling about yourself!).

Here are 5 things you should include in your personal elevator pitch:

1. Personal(ity)

Start off by describing your best attributes or with an anecdotal statement about how you got where you are today. You were invited for an interview because they want to gauge whether or not you are a cultural fit, as well as a technical fit, so don’t be afraid to let a bit of your true (and work-appropriate) personality shine through. Be cautious, though, as Monster advises, because you don’t want to get too personal and how you answer the question “tell me about yourself” will set the tone for the rest of the interview.

2. Qualifications

Briefly summarize your major qualifications. Do not reiterate your resume! What are your main areas of focus? What areas are you most passionate about? Highlight a few primary areas you are  most skilled in, as it relates to the job you’re interviewing for. Think about what impression you would like to leave your interviewer with.

3. What you’ve learned

Whether you’ve been working for 1 year or 10 years, you’ve learned and grown in that time frame. Outline the major strides you have taken and how you will apply them in the future. “Stories are powerful and are what people remember the most,” says Greg Maka of 24/7 Marketing.

4. Express interest

Tie it all in with the job you’re interviewing for. Why are you specifically interested in THIS role? What will this particular role give you? What are you looking to get out of this experience?

5. Throw it back/ask a question

End it by putting the ball back in the other person’s court. Asking questions such as how they got to their position, how you two will work together, or what they envision as the best part of this company/role will not only keep the conversation flowing, but will also indicate that you’re just as invested as they are in finding out whether this role is the best match for you!

How do you answer the “tell me about yourself” question? Let’s see some personal statements/elevator pitches in the comments below:


Amanda Kocefas

Amanda is a marketing professional with experience covering global communication, corporate branding, trade show events, advertising, web content management, and business development support. She has a Bachelor's degree in Advertising from Michigan State University and has internship experience in graphic design and non-profit event planning. She has also raised awareness and funds for several non-profit organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Relay For Life, One World One Future, Ronald McDonald House, March of Dimes, Wright for Kids, Kalamazoo Community Advocates, and Kalamazoo Community in Schools. Through this column, she aims to help career girls everywhere master the tricky rules of communication in today's workplace.

You may also like...