So, Why Don’t You Tell Me About Yourself?
by Linda Matias
“So, why don’t you tell me about yourself?” is the most frequently asked
interview question. It’s a question that most interviewees expect and the one
they have the most difficulty answering. Though one could answer this open-ended
question in a myriad of ways, the key to answering this question or any other
interview question is to offer a response that supports your career objective.
This means that you shouldn’t respond with comments about your hobbies, spouse,
or extra curricular activities. Trust me, interviewers aren’t interested.
Interviewers use the interview process as a vehicle to eliminate your
candidacy. Every question they ask is used to differentiate your skills,
experience, and personality with that of other candidates. They want to
determine if what you have to offer will mesh with the organization’s mission
If answered with care, your response to the question, “So, why don’t you tell
me about yourself?” could compliment the interviewers needs as well as support
your agenda. This is a question you should be prepared to answer as opposed to
attempting to “wing it”.
Follow the four easy steps outlined below to ensure your response will grab
the interviewers attention.
1. Provide a brief introduction. Introduce attributes that are key to the
Sample introduction: During my 10 years’ of experience as a sales manager, I
have mastered the ability to coach, train, and motivate sales teams into
reaching corporate goals.
2. Provide a career summary of your most recent work history. Your
career summary is the “meat” of your response, so it must support your job
objective and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your current
experience. Don’t go back more than 10 years.
Sample career summary: Most recently, at The Widget Corporation, I was
challenged with turning around a stagnant territory that ranked last in sales in
the Northeastern region. Using strategies that have worked in the past, I
developed an aggressive sales campaign that focused on cultivating new accounts
and nurturing the existing client base. The results were tremendous. Within six
months my sales team and I were able to revitalize the territory and boost sales
3. Tie your response to the needs of the hiring organization. Don’t
assume that the interviewer will be able to connect all the dots. It is your job
as the interviewee to make sure the interviewer understands how your experiences
are transferable to the current position they are seeking to fill.
Sample tie-in: Because of my proven experience in leading sales teams, Craig
Brown suggested I contact you regarding your need for a sales manager. Craig
filled me in on the challenges your sales department is facing.
4. Ask an insightful question. By asking a question you gain control
of the interview. Don’t ask a question for the sake of asking a question. Be
sure that the question will engage the interviewer in a conversation. Doing so
will alleviate the stress you may feel to perform.
Sample question: What strategies are currently underway to increase sales and
morale within the sales department?
There you have it – a response that supports your agenda AND meets the needs
of the interviewer.
When broken down into manageable pieces, the question, “So, tell me about
yourself?” isn’t overwhelming. In fact, answering the question effectively gives
you the opportunity to talk about your strengths, achievements, and
qualifications for the position. So take this golden opportunity and run with
Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The
National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street
Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.