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Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Tell Me A Little About Yourself

Kent Nolen

The question, “Tell me a little about yourself...” seems to leave a lot of interviewees completely stumped and can derail an interview practically before it has started.  The irony is that this simple question is actually meant to be a fairly casual icebreaker – a way to put the interviewee at ease before the onslaught of behavioral questions.  So how do you respond to this common interview question, “Tell me a little about yourself?”  Here are two rules to follow: keep it short and be enthusiastic.

Short: The interviewer is not interested in hearing your life story.  What they are likely looking for is a brief overview of what brought you to this point.  So keep your answer concise and focused.  Perhaps you can quickly speak to your career path, highlight ways in which you determined your niche or share a little bit about your genuine passion for what you do.

Enthusiastic: One of the reasons this question tends to trip people up is because their minds go directly to things that diminish their confidence.  They think about their non-linear career path or the job they hated.  You are setting the tone for the interview with your answer, so try to stay focused on the aspects of your history that lift you up.

Since this question is so common, practice it ahead of time.  Ask a friend to listen to you and share their thoughts.  This way you can feel confident when this tricky little “icebreaker” comes up in your next interview.