Tell me about yourself – Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself interview questions

Irrespective of the candidate's experience level, interviewers often use the "Tell me about yourself" question as an icebreaker. The question is an opportunity for the candidates to set the tone for the discussion, accentuate their strong points, and share their career highlights.


However, you may wonder how to answer the question “tell me about yourself” in the best possible way? How to introduce yourself in an interview that impresses the interviewer?


While it may be overwhelming, with thorough homework, you can answer the tell me about yourself interview question like a pro. Read on to discover tips to better introduce yourself in an interview.


1. Why do interviewers ask “tell me about yourself”?

2. How to introduce yourself in an interview

3. The present-past-future formula to introduce yourself in an interview

4. How to answer “tell me about yourself” using the present, past, future formula

5. Additional tips for introducing yourself in interviews

6. Tell me about yourself - sample answer

7. Prepare beforehand to answer “tell me about yourself”


1. Why do interviewers ask “tell me about yourself”?

Your hiring manager may ask the tell me about yourself interview questions to create a comfortable atmosphere during the interview and get you talking.

But more than that, your answer helps them understand whether you are a right fit for the company and the role.

If you know how to answer tell me about yourself, it will show your interview preparedness. It will also help the recruiter to gauge your communication skills, improvisation skills, and proactivity.


Technical skills aren't enough; interviewers assess candidates for soft skills too!


2. How to introduce yourself in an interview

While talking about ourselves should be the easiest thing to do, it often becomes the most dreadful and stressful task during job interviews.


Nonetheless, suppose you prepare to answer tell me about yourself interview question. In that case, you have a better chance to share your experiences relevant to the position you have applied for, your hard and soft skills, your interest in this position, and the skills that make you suitable for this role.


While introducing yourself in an interview, some key elements are:


  • Who you are: Give insight into your skills and personality. Let the interviewer see who you are as a person and a professional.
  • Career highlights: Mention the top 2-4 highlights of your career that you think the interviewer must know. You can include some achievements and successes in your past and present role(s).
  • Why you are perfect for this position: Talk about why you are interested in this role and what makes you the ideal person for the job.


HackerTrail Insider Tip: Keep your answer within 2 minute length.

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3. The present-past-future formula to introduce yourself in an interview

The present, past, and future formula is a simple yet effective way to introduce yourself in an interview. According to this formula, you need to start your story in the present and build it using relevant information from the past. Next, include your plans for the future.


4. How to answer “tell me about yourself” using the present, past, future formula:

  • Present: Begin by talking about your current role, your responsibilities in this role, the scope of work, and a recent professional accomplishment.

HackerTrail Insider Tip: Focusing on the present, share your learning habits, e.g. you follow top developers in FAANG companies, read articles on, etc. Also, mention personal projects relevant to the role.

  • Past: Then move on to throw some light on your personal and professional journey, and tell the recruiter how you have reached so far in your career ladder. Mention any previous experience where you used or learned essential skills that are relevant to the job description.

HackerTrail Insider Tip: For the ‘past’ element, think of 2 projects related to the role you are applying: a new project and an inherited project.

  • Future: At last, talk about your professional plans: what you want to do next and why? This could be something related to the position you have applied for. Also, mention what makes you the right fit for this position.

HackerTrail InsiderTip: Draw similarities between the company mission or vision to your personal brand/culture. E.g., If I were applying to Homage (a healthcare tech start-up), I’d say the tech/product they build benefits my elderly parents who are living in Malaysia.


Remember, it's your story, and no one knows it better than you. It is fine if you want to talk about the past first and the present later. Tweak your answer in the way you feel is right. However, ensure that you know how to answer tell me about yourself interview question in a way that your interest in the company and the position is obvious to the recruiter. Your answer should also make it clear what makes you the right person for the job.

How to build a personal brand as a software developer


5. Additional tips for introducing yourself in interviews

Below are some additional points that will skilfully help you to introduce yourself in interviews:


1. Customize your answer for the position and the company

As a part of the interview preparation, research the company thoroughly including its market position, mission, vision, and values. Read the job description to identify the nature of the work and essential skills for this role.


Tailor your answer for "tell me about yourself," according to the company and job requirements. Make sure you mention the experiences and skills that are crucial for the position you have applied for.


2. Keep your answer professional

Due to the open-ended nature of the question, you may be tempted to share some interesting personal details. However, refrain from doing so unless you think that it will directly contribute to the role. For example, your love for trekking could be a bonus when interviewing with a travel company. But usually, interviewers want to know your career story when they ask you the question tell me about yourself. Hence, instead of sharing personal information, make your answer formal and describe the important milestones of your professional journey.


3. Showcase your expertise along with your passion

You must share two to three skills and personality traits that link to exceptional job performance, particularly for this position. For instance, if you are interviewing for a client-facing role, you can give an example of how you used your negotiation skills at work. At the same time, your love for travel and meeting new people is worth mentioning too. If you are still confused about how to introduce yourself in an interview, then make a list of all your strengths before the interview.


4. Keep your answer brief

Long, rambling answers are the last thing a hiring manager wants to hear in an interview. There is no point in reciting your entire resume or every minute detail of your life. If they get bored, they will barely listen to what you say afterwards. Experts suggest keeping the answer under 2 minutes. Under 90 seconds is even better.


Therefore, pre-decide the crucial points that you ought to share with the interviewer and leave the rest. Some things to include in your answer are examples to demonstrate your soft and hard skills, some volunteering work, and personal interests that show positive personality traits like discipline, people skills, problem-solving, etc.

Ensure to make a positive first impression in an interview

Test your coding skills here


6. Tell me about yourself - sample answer

Both, an entry-level job seeker and an experienced candidate must know how to answer tell me about yourself and structure their answer accordingly. Hence, below are two examples for each of these categories:


1. Tell me about your 'sample answer' for experienced professionals:

PRESENT: "Hi, I'm Emma. I have over 6 years of experience as a Python developer. Currently, I am working as a senior software engineer with FirstBid. As a part of my role, I create dynamic server-side applications for our clients and internal use. I collaborate with front-end developers to integrate user-facing components with back-end elements.

I have a Master's in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore.

I also have sharp logical and critical thinking abilities, apart from solid coding capabilities. I work alongside four more programmers to develop applications using Python. Together we have successfully delivered projects for our high revenue-generating clients. From time to time, I have stepped up to keep the team together when working under tremendous pressure. My managers have also appreciated my display of leadership abilities as a technology leader.

FUTURE: I now want to level up and use all my learning and skills to lead a team rather than being an individual contributor

This team lead position will allow me to use all my skills and capabilities and make this team one of the winning teams in the department.


2. Tell me about yourself 'sample answer' for a fresh graduate job seeker:

If you are a fresh graduate, your answer should focus on your academic achievements, volunteer work, and some hobby or interest that teach important soft skills.


Hi, I am a recent Computer Science graduate. I chose this field of study because I have been fascinated with maths and computers for as long as I remember. The vast number of career opportunities that computer science provides interests me further.

I submitted my final year dissertation on 'Energy Efficient Cloud Datacentres' and spoke on the same at a conference held in our college. I then went on to publish two international research papers. I have also attended a robotics course along with my college coursework.

PAST: Due to my excellent academic record, I landed an internship that I finished last week. I am, therefore, looking for a full-time role currently.
FUTURE: This junior software engineer role will give me a chance to utilise all my learnings and put them to actual work.

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7. Prepare beforehand to answer “tell me about yourself”

Follow the points above to practice how to introduce yourself in an interview. Avoid answering in the spur of the moment because you can miss out on important points. Or even worse, share things with the interviewer that you shouldn't.


Before you attend that interview, take a piece of paper, and write down all the highlights of your professional journey. With your points ready, you know how to answer tell me about yourself interview question.


If you are a fresh graduate, follow the additional tips that will help you slay the interview.

Happy job hunting!


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