When Asked To ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ In An Interview, Here’s The Way To Craft A Perfect Reply
One of the most daunting job interview questions is always when the recruiter asks to “tell me about yourself,” leaving most people caught off-guard because they don’t really know what to say. Do you blab about your professional success? Do you keep things casual and steer it towards interests outside of work? Do you try to stay as humble as possible, while still showing you work hard and are experienced? So many things can run through your mind.
While many of us have stumbled over ourselves when asked by someone else to “tell me about yourself,” it doesn’t need to be that way. In fact, thanks to some smart people who work at Yale University, you can no deliver a perfect response without coming across as too self-absorbed, too boring or too, well, shy.
According to Yale advisors, when asked by someone else to “tell me about yourself,” follow the below example to really impress them, per CNBC/Make It.
“I graduated last year from Yale, where I majored in Data Science and Environmental Engineering, with a specific interest in fashion and sustainability. The field is so aligned with everything I loved doing as a kid: Volunteering at Street Care events, joining a community garden, thrift shopping, and making my own clothes.
I first became interested in sustainability because I wanted to work with a company whose mission is to promote a new textile economy — one that will protect the future of our planet. When I learned that the fashion industry will consume a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050, I decided to organize a campus fundraising event to help fight textile waste.
We raised more than $10,000 and donated an entire truck of unwanted clothing to a local homeless shelter. It was one of my proudest accomplishments. At my last job, I helped develop a new technology that turns cotton waste into new materials that can be used for many industrial purposes.
I’m very excited about this opportunity at your company because it would allow me to use my knowledge and experience to educate people about how their actions — like their shopping habits and what brands they support — can make a serious impact on our environment.”
Of course, not all of us went to one of the top Ivy League and most prestigious universities on the planet, so how can regular Joes like you and I deliver a spot-on response? Well, the Yale advisors were nice enough to lay out a few points to remember when answering this, seemingly, simple answer.
- Opening: Short and sweet; no longer than one sentence.
- A Motivational Story: Briefly tells a story about a challenge (or new situation) you faced, what choices you made in response, and how the outcomes of those choices influenced your interest in the field.
- Academic Work and Supporting Experiences: Relevant coursework, research, passion projects, internships, or past employment that helped you build the knowledge and skills that will be useful to the job.
- Closing: This can be a few short words explaining how your story and background make you a good fit for the job — or something about the company you’re particularly excited about, and why.
See, even if you didn’t go to Yale, you can still get a little bit of a free education when trying to be the best version of yourself in a job interview. Of course, you need to know your pitch in order to represent yourself well, so also remember to base the above off of the below criteria to avoid coming across as bragging too much.
- Be Personable and Authentic
- Craft Your Story
- Practice Presenting Your Story
In other words, when asked by someone else to “tell me about yourself,” don’t just wing it and have diarrhea of the mouth, have some structure so you know the key points you want to mention in order to represent yourself well. It may seem simple, but, then again, many of us have totally F’ed up our answers to the question in a job interview by saying something that probably hurt us in the long run.