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How To Answer “Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself” In Interviews The Right Way

How To Answer “Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself” In Interviews The Right Way


DATE: 07 May, 2024

How do you answer “Tell me a little bit about yourself”? It might seem like an easy interview question, after all, you know all about yourself. And it's one of the very first things an interviewer will ask—whether you're having a preliminary phone screen or a formal interview.

It's a good starting point and a good way for both parties to ease into the actual interview. And it's not a trick question, you should know the answer to this one, but how do you answer it?

A simple and effective formula for structuring your response could be:

  • Past: Tell the interviewer what you studied and/or a major previous experience that's relevant to the job and company.
  • Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and perhaps a big recent accomplishment.
  • Future: Now touch on what you're looking to do next and why you're interested in this particular role.

This isn't the only way to build your response, of course, and you can tweak it as you see fit. If there's a specific story about what brought you into this field, for example, you might decide to start with the “present” story first and then get into what you're doing in the past.

Whatever order you pick, make sure you ultimately tie it to the job and company. A good place to end it, is to give a transition of this is “why I'm here”.  You want to be absolutely certain your interviewer is left with the impression that it makes sense that they are talking to you about this role.

Here are a few points to take into consideration:

Remember that first impressions count

“We only have one chance to make a first impression”. If you have prepared this in advance, it will show and you will deliver it smoothly.

Tailor your answer

Do your research. Review the job ad, the company and the person you are talking to. Tell your story in a way that aligns with the role and the company.

Know your audience

You will probably get asked this question at all stages of the interview process, but that doesn't mean you have to give the same exact answer every time.  

A recruiter may want hard skills and bigger picture thinking and a Hiring Manager may want something more technical. 

Keep it professional

Avoid talking about your family and hobbies, unless you know something very specific about the company that would lead you to believe otherwise.

Speak with passion

Keeping your answer professional, however, shouldn't stop you from shedding light on why you're passionate about your work or about this company, even if it goes into slightly more personal territory.

I personally love it when someone tells me, “I knew I wanted to be creative when I was a kid, as I was always drawing or writing”.

Don't ramble

Don't waste this time going over every little detail—don't forget they have already read your CV and/or may have that in front of them. Keep it between 30-90 seconds (depending on your experience).

Practise, practise, practise

You don't want to wait until you get this question in a live interview to try out your answer for the first time. Practise will make your answer stronger and help you to become more confident giving it each time. Asking a trusted colleague, friend, or family member to listen and fine tune if need be.

Keep it positive

If your past experiences weren't positive, this isn't the best time to mention it. As you move further into an interview, things get more comfortable. So wait until you get a specific question to address those topics.

Here are a few examples…

Example answer #1 for someone looking for a similar role at a new company:

“I've always been a creative person, even as far back as high school. This led me to study a Bachelor or Design at Swinburne University. After Uni, my first role was at ABC Marketing where I was a Junior Graphic Designer and was mentored by the Design Manager. My role was looking after all the print collateral for example print campaigns, catalogues and outdoor advertising.

After 3 years I moved companies to DEF Company so I could learn more about Digital Design. Here I worked on EDM's, web banners and designing social media assets. I still want to grow so I'm excited to take on a new opportunity. I've learned I work best on brands that I love and use, and given that I'm a big user of your company's products, I jumped at the chance to apply when I saw the open posting.”

Example answer #2 for someone transitioning from an agency to an in-house role

“I'm currently an Art Director at PPGH, where I worked 100% on ABC Bank client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on two different after-pay clients. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I'd love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific finance company, which is why I'm so excited about this opportunity with XYZ Finance Group.”

Example answer #3 for someone pivoting into a similar role in a new industry

“I've been in the marketing industry for over five years, primarily working in account and project management roles. I most recently worked as a senior PM for a large tech company managing large marketing campaigns and overseeing other project managers. And now I'm looking to expand my experience across different industries, particularly fintech, which is why I'm so interested in joining an agency like yours.”

But, most importantly, the main takeaway to take from all of this is to have some fun and enjoy the process. It can be daunting and/or confusing knowing where to start or what to say, but hopefully these tips give some helpful guidance so next time someone asks “Tell me about yourself”—you'll be ready.