job interview question“Tell me about yourself.”

This one simple little question makes even the most confident candidates sweat in a job interview. A million thoughts rush through your mind: What exactly should I share? Should I try to build rapport? should I show I’m perfect for the job?

Never fear, job seeker. There is a very simple formula that will help you easily answer this question.

Here’s how to answer “Tell me about yourself”:

The first thing to remember is this isn’t an invitation to recite your entire life story or to go through each bullet point listed on your resume. This is your first and best opportunity to pitch the recruiter on why you are perfect for the position.

First, you should start with the present because that’s where you are now. Then you can segue into your past (but not too far) and tell them a little about the experiences you have had and the skills gained in your previous position. Wrap it up by talking about the future, and why you’re really excited about this particular opportunity.

Let’s look at an example:

You could respond to the question like this: “At my current position as an account executive with Smith Company, I solely managed three of our top performing clients. Before that, I handled two different major national accounts at an ad agency. While I really enjoyed the work at both places, I’d love to explore the opportunities in management with one specific company. And that’s why I am so excited about this opportunity with Jones Corporation.”

Throughout your reply, remember to focus on experiences and skills that will be the most relevant for a hiring manager when they think about filling this particular position within the company.

Don’t be afraid to relax a little, tell a few stories and maybe a joke (just keep it clean). They already have your resume but now they want to know a little more about you!

How do you relax?

  • Don’t speak too fast
  • Stop yourself from shaking (squeeze your buttocks or thigh muscles – sounds weird but it works)
  • Stop your voice from shaking (do some vocal exercises before you go into the interview)
  • Stand up while you wait but don’t pace
  • Find your best sitting position
  • Show your hands (place your hands on the table during the interview)
  • Make the other person feel special by being genuinely interested in what they have to say
  • Listen to hear, not to respond
  • Use your own voice, not some formal public speaking voice
  • Be yourself

Remember, you’re already on the shortlist! You made it to an interview, so they already think highly of you. Just slow down, listen and be yourself. If you do that, you’ll come across as confident, authentic and relaxed.