How to Answer "Tell Me Something About Yourself" in a Job Interview

Three Parts:Brainstorming Before the InterviewNailing the InterviewSample Answers

There it is. The dreaded "Tell me something about yourself " question. Almost everyone will come up against this dreaded inquiry at least once in their lives. It's so vague, so boring--where do you even begin? Not to fear - wikiHow is here to help you through this anxiety-inspiring question.

Part 1
Brainstorming Before the Interview

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    Review your skills and abilities. Write down a list of good qualities about yourself that you think are illustrative of your abilities. Skills and abilities generally fall into three main qualities[1]:
    • Knowledge-Based Skills. These are skills that you learn as you mature and include languages, computer skills, mathematical reasoning, technical know-how, etc.
    • Transferable Skills. These are skills that you take from job to job. They include people management skills, communication, problem solving, etc.
    • Personal Traits. Your unique, innate qualities including your sociability, confidence, excitability, punctuality, etc.
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    Separate the relevant skills and abilities from the irrelevant ones. Your list will probably generate some pretty unique and interesting skills and abilities if it's comprehensive. That's a good thing. At the end of the day however, being able to juggle six oranges, while certainly interesting, isn't really relevant to an interviewer and potential employer. (Unless you're looking to join a traveling sideshow, that is.)[2]
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    Review your interests and characteristics. Your response should not just be about your skills and abilities. It should also be about who you are as a person--What inspires you?, What you are passionate about?, What characteristics define you?, etc. Come up with a list of things you are passionate about and keywords that you think describe you best. While you make this list, keep in mind the position you are applying for. You should try to relate your interests and characteristics to this position.
    • Example interests: If you are applying for a position as a team leader heading up a mission to Antarctica, you would want to list interests that show you are a leader and a team player. These could include: playing on a soccer team, leading a book club, or playing doubles tennis.
    • Example characteristics: For that same position, you would want to bring up characteristics that show you are a leader and team player. These could include, “organized,” “driven,” “empathetic,” and “dedicated.”
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    Pick out the skill, abilities, interests, and characteristics you think might appeal to your potential employer. It's important to mix and match your skills with the skills that appeal to the potential employer. You might be a perfectly good candidate, but if your skills don't fit with the position you're applying for in the organization you're trying to join, it doesn't really matter. Often, job listings will actually list out the skills the company thinks is important for you to have in order to be successful at the position you are applying for. At the end of the day, ask yourself[3]:
    • What values does the company believe in? Every company has values. The best companies have stated values, which means they're transparent and part of the company culture. If a company values efficiency, for example, you might tuck away "hard-working" or "innovative" in your back pocket. If a company values relieving poverty, for example, you might match that to "mission-driven," "conscientious," or "dedicated."
    • What responsibilities does the position entail? What skills might you need to have in order to succeed day in and day out at your potential job? If you're applying for a marketing position, you probably should be outgoing, excellent at communication, relationship-driven, and fast-paced. You might not be all of these, but it's helpful to think about what the position actually calls for.
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    Start developing your personal elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short (30 seconds to 1 minute) summary of you. It should include what you stand for, who you are, and how your ambitions stand in line with those aspects of your personality. It's what you can meaningfully tell someone about yourself on an elevator ride from the ground to the top floor.
    • A not-so-good elevator pitch: "I'm Silvia S. Berlisconi. I sell newspapers for a living. I went to the Parthenope University of Nepal, where I majored in communications. I'm really excited about the idea of selling newspapers."
    • A good elevator pitch: "Do you hate sitting in traffic? I hate sitting in traffic. It may sound bizarre or misguided, but I've devoted the past five years to helping solve the problem of congestion. My team and I have developed a 'smart' grid pattern that we can place into traffic lanes and stop lights that can actually tell when stoplights are easing congestion and when stoplights are causing congestion. Our technology is being piloted in Canada, Carthage, and Caracas, and we're actively trying to expand."
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    Be ready to answer follow-up questions about anything you might have said. If your interviewer wants to clarify something, or maybe even test you about an item in your elevator pitch, be prepared. What's a beautiful elevator pitch worth anyway if you can't even explain what your "integrated solutions" are?
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    Practice with a friend. One of the best ways to be prepared for getting asked this question at an interview is to practice with a friend. Have your friend pretend he/she is the interviewer. When he/she asks, “OK, well how about you tell me something about yourself?” give your answer. After you are done, have your friend tell you what he/she thought was good and bad about the answer, what you could add, and if there is anything you should change or leave out.
    • You can also practice answering follow-up questions by having your friend ask you questions about your answer.

Part 2
Nailing the Interview

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    Gauge the feel of the interview. The interviewer will most likely ask the question early on in the interview, so you might not have much to work with. If you're completely satisfied with your elevator pitch and don't think it sounds too "sales-like," go with it. If you think a personal elevator pitch might be weird given the position you are interviewing for, or the interviewer you drew, try a more straightforward response.
    • Example: "I'm a consultant working in telecommunications. For the past three years, I've been helping clients organize their workforce and restructure their pricing packages in order to boost profit. I love consulting, but my real passion is music. I want to build a fundraising platform for independent musicians who can't rely on record labels in the digital age. That's why I'm applying to your organization."
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    Don't lie. Whatever you do, avoid the straight-out lie. Bending the truth (white lies) are probably acceptable, as long as they're not too egregious or there are too many of them. Lies will always come back to bite you. No matter how confidently you tell them, they have an insidious way of making a fool out of you. Plus, why would you need to lie? Dig deep for the truthful answers instead of skimming the surface for the false ones.
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    Be yourself and be heartfelt. Whatever you say, do so with feeling and with authenticity. Your interviewer will be more sympathetic to what you say if how you say it, rings true to them.
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    Stay away from buzzwords or jargon. Buzzwords or jargon are catchwords that are trendy to say but that don't really mean anything. "Leverage," "interface," "mission-critical," and "bandwidth" all qualify as absolutely unoriginal and vague buzzwords. They're bad because they're mostly used by people who want to appear smart. You're actually smart, so don't use them.
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    Keep your cool. The goal of answering this question isn't just to get information about who you are. It's about how confident you are, how well you speak, whether you’re calm and deliberate, and whether you can establish a rapport with the interviewer.
    • Keep your cool. Don't start sweating bullets, although it's probably out of your control. If you mess up, don't get flustered. If the interviewer starts grilling you, keep your composure. You are an agent of serenity. Act like one. If you do happen to mumble an answer or say something you didn’t mean to, laugh it off. This doesn’t mean guffawing for five minutes--just laugh and say something like "Boy did I get tongue-tied for a minute there." Then move on, showing that you are confident in yourself and that one little slip up isn’t the end of the world to you.
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    Maintain eye contact, and smile. A lot of the time, hiring managers hire people that they like over people better qualified for the job. Your job here is to be likable. This means smiling and being confident enough to hold eye contact with your interviewer.
    • Smile. Smiling will help you feel calmer. Smiling will also help you put the interviewer at ease and perhaps even make them happier. A happy person is easier to hire than someone who doesn't know the concept of smiling.

Sample Answers

Sample Interview Self Introduction


  • An interview is all about being able to blow your own trumpet, so if you think you're the best at something then mention it; just take a small slice of humble pie along with it so that you don't sound too far up your own arse/ass!


  • Lying is more than likely not going to help so try to avoid it at all costs.

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