How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in a Job Interview

“Tell me about yourself…”

“Uh, um…”

No. That’s not right. 

You want to make a great first impression, don’t you? 

Are you confident? Bold? Or timid? Unsure of yourself?

How you answer this classic icebreaker often determines the success of the interview. If you get off to a rough, uncertain start, you’re in trouble.

There are countless variations to this question, but they all boil down to the same demand: “Impress me with your professional story.”

Don’t get nervous. Be prepared. 

Let’s see how.

The Importance of “Tell Me About Yourself”

The wording of this question varies from interviewer to interviewer. It is intended to be a conversation starter and give you a platform to promote yourself in a friendly way. 

They want to hear a compelling story about you. 

Who are you? Where have you been? What have you done? Where are you going? Will you fit in?

The interviewers will be hanging on every word. After all, they are responsible for your behavior if they hire you. 

Yes, it’s a test. But that’s okay.

If you do well, they can feel confident that you are a prime candidate for the job. The rest of the interview is important, but this beginning will give them the first glimpse of your personality and character. Make a good impression.

How do you answer, “Tell me about yourself?”

That’s what we’ll talk about.

Variations on “Tell Me About Yourself”

Most professional interviews start pretty much alike. In short, it’s, “Hi, who are you?”

The interviewer wants an introduction to you. Your job is to answer with calm assurance regardless of how the question is phrased.

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “Could you share with me your journey?”
  • “I’d love to hear more about your background.”
  • “What would you like me to know about you?”
  • “What has shaped your career path?”
  • “What’s your story?”
  • “What motivates you professionally?”

The interviewer wants to know more than your work history, they can read that on your résumé. The raw facts may be relevant, but they’re not that interesting or indicative of the kind of person you are.

They want to hear your professional story.

Telling Your Professional Story

Humans like to hear stories. This includes hiring managers. They want to be captivated and impressed. 

Can you tell a compelling story about yourself?

The answer is yes. 

Plus, it’s not only what you say. It’s how you say it. Keep this in mind as you prepare your introduction to you.

Of course, you want to answer with confidence and enthusiasm. You also need to connect your story to the hiring manager listening to you. Make your story relevant to the company’s goals and the job description’s stated needs. 

Keep your story brief, about 30 seconds or so. 

This will leave a memorable impression.

Here are several characteristics of a great professional story.

Structured Narrative

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and so should your answer to the question.

  1. Start with how you were inspired to pursue this professional path.
  2. In the middle, share an anecdote about your struggles while on the path. Be sure to highlight your achievements and solutions to your struggles. This “show, don’t tell” approach is engaging.
  3. End with your logical reason for applying specifically for this job. Connect the company’s needs with your path, struggles, and achievements.


Tailor your story to the job position. Go through the job description carefully and make sure your narrative hits the most relevant points.


Never lie. Give genuine commentary on your professional pursuit. Tell them what you feel, not what you think they want to hear. 

You’re testing them just as they’re testing you. Is this the right job for you? Be true to yourself and your goals.


Include anecdotes and insights into your career and experiences. Give them something to remember and think about later.


Show your personality. Don’t just write and memorize a script. Practice your story often so that you can deliver it with ease and your personal flavor. Keep it relaxed and professional at all times.


Remember, you only have about 30 seconds before you get interrupted with another question. Be clear and concise. Make your point and move on. Don’t insert unnecessary details. 

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your story must also answer the question: “Why hire you instead of someone else?” If you want to stand out from the crowd, you must be unique. 

Somewhere during your story, you must state your Unique Selling Proposition. This is a crucial feature of a compelling and persuasive self-story. Gracefully explain why you are uniquely suited for this particular position. Make sure they hear you clearly.


A good ending to your story is to ask an intelligent question about the company or the job. This shows that you understand the position and are interested in it. This question also takes the interview to the next stage, putting the spotlight on the interviewer. 

Overall Strategy

Let’s step back and look at the big picture. 

  1. What is the point of the interview? It’s to determine whether you’re uniquely qualified for the job. Everything you say should relate to this fundamental point.
  2. When beginning your story, say something bold and memorable. This is called a “hook.” Keep it professional, not shocking, but still unexpected. You’d do well to research “story hooks” to get a grasp of how they work.
  3. Don’t lose energy during the middle of your story. Keep it flowing quickly and logically. You don’t want them to get bored and ask another question before you’ve finished. 
  4. The end of the story must have a satisfying conclusion before you ask your question. If you don’t end well, your audience (hiring manager) will be disappointed and let down. The end of your story is the climax. Make it memorable and satisfying.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. As I said, don’t just memorize a script and recite it. Tell your story as though you are making it up on the spot. In fact, that’s the best way to prepare. Have a list of bullet points and improvise on those points in your own words. You’ll soon feel comfortable just telling your story authentically rather than stiffly reciting a lecture. 

Looking Forward

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Upload your current résumé or CV and a job description, and click the button. That’s all it takes to generate a complete application kit. 

Your current résumé is then AI-tailored to match the job description. Keywords, ATS formatting, relevant wording—everything is taken care of for you. 

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