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How To Correctly Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' During A Job Interview

Here's the only formula you need to survive this not-so-easy question.
PHOTO: Noel J. Federizo

I still remember the first time I heard, "So tell me about yourself," during a job interview. It seemed so casual that I didn't even really consider it as part of the interview. "Tell me about yourself" is an employer’s way of easing you in, building rapport, and learning about all the important things you left out of your resume. But it's not an invitation to launch into a full monologue on the story of your life—which was my first mistake.

I went on and on about my family and my hobbies, and missed the point of the question. As general as the question might seem, you need to be able to align your answers with the job you're applying for. It's your first chance to tell the hiring manager why you're the best person for the job.

A trick I've learned to master is the Present-Past-Future formula. You start with the present—what you're doing for your company right now. Next, talk about the experiences you've had and the skills you've mastered. And then finish strong by talking about the future, specifically what you can offer the company and what you're most excited about. As always, telling stories and personalizing your mini speech can help put the employer at ease, so avoid just reciting what's already on your resume. 

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