Tell Me About Yourself

Tell me about yourself” – sometimes the very first question in a job interview. What’s amazing to me is the number of candidates that respond by saying “Well… what would you like to know”? Wrong answer! It sort of sets the stage for what kind of interview you will likely have. The reality is the question is actually fairly simple. It’s (by design) an open-ended question to see how you will respond. Not knowing what to say is …well like a professional stand-up comedian standing in front of the microphone after they are introduced to the crowd and saying…Uh, well, what would you like to talk about tonight? Can you say BOMB? That’s what it can be if you stutter with your answer. Tell them your story.

Create your own road map to this question and nail it every time:

WHERE: Tell them about your heritage, where you grew up, went to school and a little bit about your family. This brings out the personal side of who you are – trust me it really matters. It gives the employer a little flavor of your personality, style and more about you, the person. That’s a good thing.

WHO: Tell them who you are. This should be simple. Talk about the role you currently have and what you enjoy doing. Give them a little history of your career chronology (try not to skip anything) in a summary – don’t drag it out. Nobody knows your background and how you are wired more than you.

WHAT: Give them a glimpse as to what you have done, accomplished and what the outcome was for organizations you’ve worked for. Be specific – but again – do it in summary form.  No need to tell them where the watch was made…and no time to start bragging either. Beware of using the word “I” too much. It could send the wrong message.

WHY: Tell them why you are there (in the interview). Tell them what you know about the organization, why you believe you a good fit and why you are the right candidate for this role. Too many candidates show up, interview very well – and NEVER convey their interest in why they are interested in the job or organization.

It’s your motivation, energy, passion, enthusiasm, intent – and your genuine interest that they will be looking for.

Guess what? None of that information is on your resume.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.