“Tell me about yourself” is often one of the most common questions that employers will ask either during an interview, or even in the walk from the lobby to wherever the interview is being held.
There’s no exact formula for how to answer this question, but there are a few key pieces that most employers would want you to summarize. Remember, they’ve already seen your resume and cover letter with a detailed breakdown of your job history, so try to keep the answer more generic.
Generally, you want to keep it solely professional. This may not be an appropriate time to talk about your family or your personal interests. Instead, think about any relevant education that you have which lead to building your career skills, or experiences from previous work positions.
One helpful tip is to reread the opening section of your resume before the interview. This is often called something like “Highlights of Qualification” or “Professional Profile.” This section is ideally a high-level overview of your skills and experiences relevant to your line of work and can be used as a base for answering this question. It will help reinforce your skills to the employer, and set a positive stage for the remainder of the interview.
Another tip is to ask yourself why anything you are saying is relevant for them to know in this circumstance. Even if it’s an interesting fact about yourself or your life, if it’s not relevant to the job or to show you have a connection to their work culture or expectations, consider if the information is needed.
Don’t worry about rambling. Often times when you’re nervous, you’ll feel like you are talking for longer than you actually are. If you’re nervous, practice saying your personal “elevator pitch” a few times to get a feel for its length, and to make sure you have a strong conclusion so the employer knows when you’re finished and can move on to the next question.