In a job interview, the simplest questions can be the most difficult to answer. Take, for example, the “Tell me about yourself” question — It’s so open-ended that it can throw you off-balance. In this post, we give you some pointers on how to respond.
What Is the Purpose of the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question?
In a previous post, we talked about behavioral questions and how they allow hiring managers to get a sense of how you react in certain real-life scenarios.
Open-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself,” on the other hand, provide insight into your personality, priorities and decision-making process.
No less importantly, the way you handle open-ended questions reveals a lot about your critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities. Other examples of common open-ended questions you may be asked during a job interview include:
- What motivates you?
- What have you been working on?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why do you think you are right for this position?
How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
Answering personal, open-ended questions during a job interview can feel daunting. The stakes are high and you want to put your best foot forward, a combination that often results in anxiety.
While these tips are focused on helping you ace your answer to “Tell me about yourself,” you can use them for any other open-ended question.
- Be honest. Embellishing and lying always backfire; truthfulness is the best policy.
- Do your research. Make sure you understand the values of the company. The idea is not to shoehorn yourself into their vision but to be better prepared to show that you genuinely are a great culture fit.
- Avoid buzzwords. Hiring managers are so used to terms like “team player” or “results-oriented” that they simply tune them out. Be genuine — use your own words to describe what’s unique about what you bring to the table.
- Use the STAR method. While the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is often recommended for behavioral questions, you can also use it with open-ended questions if your answer includes examples of things you have done in actual work situations.
- Show why you are the ideal candidate. This question is so challenging because it’s extremely open. However, this also gives you a chance to put on display all the reasons that make you a great fit for the position. From your background to your hobbies and the problems you solve in your current and previous positions, don’t be shy about marketing yourself.
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