How to answer “Tell me about yourself” during an interview

So, tell me about yourself.  “Well, I grew up in … favorite thing to do on the weekends is lay around and watch Three Stooges movies…I have two dogs, a cat and several fish…”

This interview question seems to trip up many people during an interview.  How do you answer this question without sounding like you are attending a speed dating event?  Most employers are looking for a brief synopsis of your background from a professional standpoint.  As a professional recruiter, I coach my candidates to effectively answer this question by preparing a polished 30-60 second “commercial” that showcases their professional experience.

For example: “I started my career in IT after getting my degree in Information Technology from XYZ State and started out in programming.  This led me to working at a hospital where I was promoted into an applications analyst role working with Epic Ambulatory.  After the project was completed and I received my Epic Ambulatory Certification, I started out in consulting.  I have worked on multi-hospital projects in 7 states and” …..And so on.  It succinctly highlights education, a progressive career track to the current role and relates it to the current position for which they would be applying. 

The best way to achieve a polished “personal commercial” is to write out a few bullet points and then completely write it down on paper.  After you practice reading it out loud and saying it a few times, it will become a natural sounding presentation.  It should not sound canned or unnatural.  Ask a friend or your spouse to critique it and give you suggestions.  If you are working with a recruiter, by all means get their professional opinion since this is part of what recruiters are trained to do- help represent you in your best light.

Personal information can certainly come out in an interview, but the answer to this question is best answered from a professional viewpoint.  So if you feel inclined to share with the interviewer a list of your favorite sports teams  or the fact that you travel to compete in hot dog eating contests in the northeast US, you might want to let those interesting tidbits of information come out naturally in the course of the conversation.

*For a few extra laughs, read about the 6 Crappiest Interview Questions

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