When you start an interview, more often than not, you can expect it to begin with something along the lines of “Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself?” Despite the seemingly open-ended phrasing of the question, the interviewer is looking for a specific type of answer—not your life story. Conversely, they aren’t asking you to rehash your resume, either, as they likely have it in front of them.
Rather, the hiring manager who asks this question is usually really asking, “Why are you here? What makes you a good fit for this position, and why do you want it?”
If you’re preparing for an interview, you can probably expect to come across this question. Much like an elevator pitch, your answer should be about a minute long and include what you do, what your goals are, where you currently stand in your career, and why you’re excited to be interviewing for that opportunity. When devising your answer, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Are concise and informative
- Are relevant to the interview and the position
- Are well-prepared ahead of time
- Tell the truth
- Are long and rambling
- Focus on irrelevant information
- Are unplanned, improvised at the last minute
- Are embellished
The worst answers you can give to this question are “I don’t know” and “What do you want to know?” Answers like these will only show that you are unprepared and haven’t given much thought to why you think you’d be a good fit for the position.
In order to prepare yourself with an informative and succinct answer, try writing it out the night before the interview. Outline some main points you want to address, such as big accomplishments, skills that may not be listed or expanded upon on your resume, and the reasons you think you’d excel in this role. If you have a hobby that is related to the duties of the role and believe that it’ll illustrate how passionate you are about what you do, include that as well, as long as it doesn’t make your answer too long. Then write out a mock answer and practice it in a variety of ways. The more familiar you become with the material and how it sounds out loud, the more confident you will be in the actual interview.