Interviewer: “Tell me about yourself.”
You: “Well, Jeff… I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH to my two loving parents Robert and Marge. I spent most of my youth playing sports and underachieving academically. By junior year of high school I finally decided to start trying and I made the honor roll eight consecutive semesters. After high school, I attended Ohio State University where I majored in art history, but I’m interviewing for this marketing job because I was really moved by this year’s Bud Light Super Bowl commercial where Spuds MacKenzie came back from the dead. In my spare time, I enjoy working out, goofing around on SnapChat, hanging out with friends and cooking.”
That interview answer above is obviously embellished, but I actually had someone come scary close to telling me that exact story during an interview once. He did not get the job.
When an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, it is not an invitation to actually tell them about yourself. They don’t fucking care that you like the New York Jets or that you can make a killer paella. They just want to know if you’re qualified for the job. What they mean when they say “Tell me about yourself” is “Tell me about your resume without making it sound like you’re reading directly from your resume.”
And The Muse has a great formula that you should follow when someone inevitably asks you this in an interview
A formula I really like to use is called the Present-Past-Future formula. So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.
Let me give you an example:
If someone asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:
“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”
Keep it simple. Keep it professional. And for the love of God, make sure your resume is the same way. I mentioned the New York Jets earlier because a few years ago I came across a resume that included an “Interests” section and right at the top of it was “Diehard New York Jets fan.” People are truly remarkable.