How to Answer, “Tell Me About Yourself” (The Basic Answer) |

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter offers the most effective way to prepare for this question so you are never tripped up.

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Today, I want to talk with you about the classic job interview question, "So, tell me about yourself and what you been doing professionally."

They may not use those exact words but you're probably going to ask you some general open-ended question that will allow you to take the ball and the other run with it or trip yourself up. To run with it, you need to be prepared with an answer that lasts about 30-45 seconds that speaks to the nature of the job that the trying to fill, as well as demonstrate that you can do it.

Here's a typical answer that question.

"Well, I've been in the field now for about (whatever the number of years is). For the last 2 years I been working for someone. So I've done this that this that." The listen that that you talk about is exactly what they're looking for (or pretty darn close). If they are trying to find a Java developer with certain skills, you tell them what you've done that relates to what you're looking for.

You see, they're not looking for some big overview. They're looking for fits into what they need to have done.

If your accountant, you might say something along the lines of, "I've been accountant for the last 5 years. For the past 3 years I been doing temporary assignments for different organizations where I have been involved with…" Then talk about what you've done the relates to what you're looking for. It's really that simple.

Once you give them this outline, once you've rehearsed it, instead of giving them this "winged answer," off the top of your head . . . You really should rehearse it . . . Once you have it rehearsed, if you are them, what follow-up questions would you ask in order to find out whether what you've done fits with what they're looking for? Once you have that in mind, you can be prepared with your follow-up answers to their follow-up questions. It's really pretty easy.

But most people go into interviews completely unprepared. They think they can just walk in and answer off-the-cuff (and they can) but they're not to get hired.

My encouragement to you is for the 1st 10-15 minutes of the interview is some variation on the question of, "Tell me about yourself," where you talk about what you've done. They want to find out what you've done in the context of what they are looking for. There are also going to ask you follow-up questions that you can also be prepared for.

Keep your answers to about 30-45 seconds in length. Why? You don't want to be droning on and on and on and on and on and boring them to tears so they are left mentally starting to channel surf (thinking about something else that they would rather be doing). You want to be giving your answers in 30 to 45 seconds in length so that the conversation becomes interactive. You engage them. They engage you. You are going back and forth in this is what you want to have happening at the stage of the interview.

So, again, "tell me about yourself," is a really simple question to answer if you have taken the time to prepare.


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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I have a lot of answers to Tough Interview Questions in this playlist or on the website


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How to Answer, “Tell Me About Yourself” (The Basic Answer) |

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