How to answer "Tell me about yourself"
The Interviewer may or may not have read your resume thoroughly. But this first question is really NOT about your resume or your career path or your accomplishments, etc. Rather, this is an opportunity you are given to SET THE TONE of the interview. The Interviewer is noting your vibe as much as he/she is noting your words. In other words, you may be nervous, confident, mean, nice, professional, unprofessional, demanding, courteous, comfortable in your skin, uncomfortable in your skin, fearful, trusting, curious, careless, etc. As you project your essence through your demeanor you will set the tone for the interview. It’s an icebreaker.
Answering "Tell me about yourself" - Recruiter's Advice
My own experience as a Recruiter
I have interviewed more than a few thousand job seekers. My icebreaker questions would vary often. For example:
While interviewing candidates I might ask any or a combination of the above-listed questions or other similar questions, mostly with the same purpose. I needed to hear how this person presents him/herself when they know they only have a chance to use a few words. How do they even “conduct” themselves when answering my initial question?
From there on, I would have a slightly better idea about the person’s vibe. I always knew that an open-ended question from the start will very easily set the tone. Moreover, it is a compelling way to set competitors apart from one another who are applying for the same job. My point is that more often than not, the vibe was almost as important as the quality of the answer itself. In other words, the answer could be genius but if it came with a really bad attitude, it was not that genius anymore.
The truth is that interviewers often decide whether or not they want to continue interviewing someone, based on the answer to this casual icebreaker: “Tell me about yourself”
There are almost as many ways to answer this question as there are people. But much is at stake and you want decisions to be made in your favor. There are right and wrong ways to answer these tricky questions. It is a good investment of your time to learn about the right and wrong way of answering this question so that you can open more doors for yourself.
Answering the Question
Be prepared as you walk into your next job interview. Present yourself well, so they know what sets you apart from others. Outlining your competencies while explaining why they fit well with the requirements of the job, will help you stand out from the rest much easier every time.
Mandy Fard is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW, CMRW) and Recruiter with decades of experience in assisting job seekers, working directly with employers in multiple industries, and writing proven-effective resumes.