The interviewer is not interested in your strong political or religious views when answering this question. He/she likely also does not want to hear about your strict family responsibilities that may lead him to question your commitment to the job.
Instead, this open-ended interview question is usually used to break the ice, or tell them about your current job. How you answer this question will set the tone for the interview and get a glimpse into personality. Use this as an opportunity to start selling yourself.
Let’s think about some example answers, so you can show that you fit the job description, and show hiring managers you are a great fit for their needs.
How to Answer
What to Avoid
In general, everything is about the job. However, the question, “Tell me about yourself” is an opportunity to help you build rapport with the hiring manager.
Try to mention something that you both happen to like and have a brief, enjoyable conversation about it. You want your interview to be memorable. Then, you can jump right into your sales pitch.
Avoid giving too much personal information. Many job seekers make this mistake. Candidates mistakenly assume that the hiring manager truly wants to know their life story or hear about their family. A good first impression means everything, and having an example answer ready is a must.
You also want to avoid rehashing your work experience in the answer. Your interviewer likely already has a stack of cover letters and resumés in front of him. All your technical skills are already listed. These questions and answers are used to evaluate what you have accomplished in the past and how you fit with their organization. Here’s what you should say.
One possible response is to take the low-key approach. Share some of your active hobbies that suggest you are healthy and full of energy. These do not have to be directly relevant to your job field either. A few good examples include running, yoga, golf, or tennis.
An example that shows you care for yourself is a good place to start with an answer. Choose an example of how you are responsible for the answer, so the hiring manager knows you will be ready to give your best on the job.
Some intellectual hobbies indicate that you like to challenge yourself and keep your mind sharp. For instance, reading, solving crossword puzzles, and learning a new language are worth mentioning.
Any volunteer work reveals your strong character and that you value giving back to your community. These could range from spearheading a fundraiser to a member of the Parent-Teacher Association or PTA.
All the hobbies that you mention should have the ultimate purpose of building rapport with your interview. They should demonstrate that you are well-rounded, passionate and energetic.
Never mention activities that would question your commitment to your job in an answer, are extremely dangerous, or may make you miss work. Don’t spend too much time talking about your activities outside of work. Remember, this is an interview that should ultimately convince the interviewer that you are the ideal candidate for the job.
After you break the ice, attempt to transition the personal discussion to a professional conversation. You can now highlight three to five strengths that make you fit for the job. These strengths should line up with real experiences that you can mention details about such as time, money, or people. You want to highlight your most important accomplishments.
Here are some sample answers you can use to frame your own response:
"I value health and exercise to stay energetic. I enjoy going for runs in the morning. This helps clear my mind and get ready to tackle the day's challenges. My professional life is extremely important to who I am.
I have 5 years of experience in the customer service industry. I am extremely patient and empathetic with my customers. I always try to put myself in the other person's shoes. I try to understand why they may be feeling frustrated or angry. These qualities have helped my customers feel appreciated. In fact, I have won the "Customer Service Rep of the Month" 3 months in a row. This has helped increase sales by over 15% last year.
I am looking for a company that values customer relationships, where I can help improve customer retention and increase sales."
"On my spare time, I volunteer at my daughter's Parent-Teacher Association. I believe that having strong relationships help make children strong leaders. Of course, working as a team requires persuasion and logical thinking. These are skills that I also bring to my professional career and will bring to this management position.
For example, at my last job at Coral Creative, I was in charge for a team of five designers. We delivered over 100 projects to clients over a year. With different designers and artists, I had to match their skills with the right job. This strategic planning was crucial to meet deadlines and enhance productivity.
Studio56 is a leader in the design industry. I am excited about a company that puts out such highly creative work. I would love to be part of the team."