Here’s the Best Way to Answer the Dreaded “Tell Me About Yourself” Question During a Job Interview

Gustavo Fring, Pexels
Gustavo Fring, Pexels / Gustavo Fring, Pexels

There are few interview questions job candidates fear more than the infamous "tell me about yourself" prompt. Though you've likely had to answer this question before, it's easy to panic when asked to summarize yourself in a succinct, presentable package. To conquer the "tell me about yourself" question, it helps to know what exactly employers are looking for and how to give it to them.

When an employer asks this vague question at the top of an interview, they aren't really interested in hearing your life story. According to The Cut, the prompt is a way for employers to set the tone of the interview and get an idea of how candidates view themselves. If someone's answer focuses on their struggle to find and keep a job, that could communicate a lack of confidence. A candidate who uses the question as an excuse to ramble about their childhood and personal life risks coming off as unfocused.

The "tell me about yourself" question may feel intimidating, but interviewees can use the open-endedness to their advantage. It's the perfect opportunity to pitch yourself and bring up any selling points you may not get a chance to later in the interview. When an interviewer asks to hear more about you, tell a brief, engaging story about your professional life. This shouldn't just be a summary of your resume. You can mention the passion that got you into the field, the challenges that have helped you grow in your career, and what attracted you to the role in the first place. Indeed recommends following one of two formulas when answering this question: present, past, future or past, present, future. Either way, every part of your story should build up to your professional goals, which should be reflected in the job you're applying for.

Employers sometimes use this question as an icebreaker, so don't be afraid to show some humor and personality in your answer. But don't overthink it: The important thing to remember is that the "tell me about yourself" prompt isn't as tricky as it seems. Other common interview questions, like "what are your weaknesses?", are a lot harder to crack. Here are the best ways to answer four notorious interview questions.

[h/t The Cut]