Preparing for the Interview

Updated September 2021

Interviews are stressful. In an annual Challenger survey of job seekers, 37 percent of respondents cited obtaining interviews and interviewing well as the most difficult part of the job search on average. One question almost always comes up in interviews, and developing a solid answer could get you one step closer to landing the position.

“Tell me about yourself.”

This seems like an open-ended question, a way for the candidate and the interviewer to connect personally. Some job seekers talk about their families or where they were born and went to school. That is the wrong way to approach this question.

The answer to this question, if done correctly, should set the stage for you to talk about your accomplishments, skills, and experience. Ultimately, the answer should tell the interviewer exactly why you are the perfect fit for the position.

For example:

I am an HR manager with 17 years of experience in hospitals, medical tech, and telecommunications. I’ve designed and implemented policies for companies with over 10,000 employees in 3 different states. In addition, I’ve led a team of 50 on a project that ultimately saved the company $2M.

From here, the interview has myriad options for interview questions to discuss your skills. You could talk about the project that saved the company money, your skills leading a large team, how you handled different laws in the 3 states, or your experiences in any of the industries in which you worked.

This question can sometimes overwhelm interviewees, so make sure to have a short statement about your career and accomplishments ready before any interview. Focus on your skills and experiences. There will be other opportunities as you progress through the interview process to connect personally with your interviewers, but this question is an opportunity for you to show your best professional self.