Interviewing 101: “Tell Me About Yourself”

Like we discussed two weeks ago, the dreaded interview question, “Tell me about yourself,” is a loaded one to navigate. It’s difficult to condense your life story into two minutes with a person you’ve never met before. When you're in an interview setting, you want to present yourself as authentically as possible, but also in the best light possible.

With this in mind, I’ll go over how to develop your response to “Tell me about yourself” (aka your “two-minute commercial”). 

1. Your Value Proposition

  • Your “value proposition” is what makes you different, unique, and valuable as an employee. Why should the company hire you? What do you bring to the table?

Some examples of this are:

  • I am a human resource professional with 10 years of experience in consumer products and manufacturing, and I specialize in labor relations. I also led the development and rollout of a company-wide performance improvement program.
  • I am a recent graduate of XYZ University, where I graduated with honors and was vice president of our campus volunteer organization. I maintained high grades while doubling the size of our organization, and spearheaded the creation of a dozen new volunteer group opportunities.
2. Your Education, Credentials, and Background
  • This section should be the most straightforward. Here, you refer to any degrees, certificates, training, special awards, or achievements you may have. You can also mention where you are from or were raised.

3. Your Experience and Work History
  • Just like your resume, present your experience and work history in chronological order, from most to least recent. Some other points to remember:
    • Provide an overview of each position: employer, job title, and key accomplishments. If you have had over ten years of experience, summarize your earliest jobs in two to three sentences.
    • Devote most of your time to your most recent position and cite one to three accomplishments.
    • If you had several job titles with different employers, refer to a series of promotions and focus on your most recent position.

4. Your Current Status—What Happened and What You are Looking For

  • In one to two sentences, describe what happened at your last job and why you are looking for a new position. Be factual and brief. After that, describe what you are looking for in your future employment and how this specific company fits into that picture. 

Some other points to remember:

  • If your job was eliminated as part of a workforce reduction, say so.
  • Say something positive about your experience in your last position, as it will convey a professional attitude. (If you’re finding it difficult to think of something, answer this question: What did you learn from the experience? Usually, that answer will be something positive, even if your experience was negative.)


5. Ask a Question about the Position and Company

  • Finally, tie this all up in a bow by bringing it back to the employer. You would have already stated why you are interested in the company. Now ask a question. It can be as simple as “Can you tell me more about the skill requirements for the position?” to something more specific that you discovered in your pre-interview research or during the interview. Either way, come prepared with a question. It shows the employer that you have an interest in the company.

And that’s it! With this framework, you can easily craft a two-minute commercial that best describes you. Write out what you’ll say. Practice it in front of friends, in the mirror, or even with a networking contact. Time yourself to make sure it’s no longer than two minutes. 

This is one aspect of an interview, but there are many more facets that, when you learn how to put your best foot forward, will help you nail the interview and land a job. Our certified career coaches are experienced in helping people develop interview skills. Sign-up for a free 15-minute consultation with a career coach today to see how they can help you with interviews and beyond.

As always, call us at 800.680.7768 or contact us via our website with any questions or concerns you have.

Until next time