What Do Recruiters Actually Want to Know When They Say, “Tell Me About Yourself?”

“Tell me about yourself?” is a common interview question. And unfortunately, this open-ended inquiry can be misleading. Here’s what recruiters actually want to know.

What “Tell Me About Yourself?” Truly Means

The casual nature of this question may tempt you into sharing details about your personal life. Don’t be fooled. Remember, this is a JOB interview. The recruiter wants to know your career story, not your life story. Specifically, they are searching for the answers to these three questions.

Why Are You Interested in This Position?

If the company is hiring a customer service representative, they want someone who has customer service experience and enjoys working with people. Therefore, start by identifying yourself within the role. For example, “I have been a customer service representative at ABC company for the past two years.” Or “I am currently working on my communications degree, and I love helping people solve problems.”

Why Are You a Good Fit for This Role?

Next, focus on any of your skills and experiences that match those listed in the job description. Be sure to include both technical and soft skills as well as any certifications, awards or other accomplishments. For instance, let’s go back to the customer service representative example. You could mention, “I am familiar with several different types of customer service software including Hubspot and Zendesk. In my last position, I dealt primarily with complaints. My experiences taught me to stay calm under pressure, and I won Employee of the Month twice last year.”

What Attracted You to This Particular Job/Company?

Finally, explain what inspired you to apply for this position instead of another one. Did a friend or family member refer you? Are you a fan of this business’s products? Would this role challenge you and/or allow you to expand your skillset? Explaining what connects you to the opportunity makes you appear more dedicated and engaged.

Finally, think of your answer to “Tell Me About Yourself?” as your elevator pitch. You want your sound polished without being overly rehearsed. Also, limit your response to one to two minutes. It should be long enough to answer thoroughly but short enough to maintain the interview’s interest.

What NOT to Include in Your Answer

You’ll probably share details about your personal life throughout the interview. In fact, chatting about similarities (same college, same hometown, same favorite sports team) can work to your advantage. However, keep this information out of the “Tell me about yourself?” answer. Don’t talk about…

  • Where you grew up
  • Your family background
  • Your pets
  • Schools you attended
  • Your hobbies and interests (unless they relate to the position)
  • Problems with your current role/supervisor
  • Your retirement plans

Are You Looking for More Interview Advice?

FirstStaff publishes weekly blog posts on topics ranging from common interview questions to what not to wear to an interview.  And if you’re still having a hard time finding employment in Fort Smith, Arkansas, our recruiters would be happy help. We’ll walk you through the application and interview process, so you can land the right job. Learn more about the advantages of job hunting through FirstStaff today!


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