It’s one of the most common interview questions but it still often stumps people: “Tell me more about yourself.”

Interviewers love to ask candidates about themselves because this is a chance to learn more about them than they’ve told you in their resumes. It’s also a great way to break the ice with some informal chit chat before moving on to the technical questions in the interview.

Each of us has a unique story to tell and tapping into this is the trick to landing the job of your dreams.

The ‘tell me about yourself’ question is like a 30-second elevator pitch. It’s something that requires you to introspect and reflect on everything you’ve done leading up to this point. Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course will teach you how to ace your job interview with useful tips on memorably introducing yourself. The PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message) Framework and Aristotle’s Appeals (Logos-Ethos-Pathos) tools in the course will help you ace important aspects of the interview process.

Let’s explore these frameworks in detail and break down the ‘tell me about yourself’ question to understand how you can spin your best tale.

How To Tell The Interviewer About Yourself

You might feel hesitant to talk about yourself and share your story. But remember, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses increases your self-awareness.

You may feel unsure about how much you should reveal and which unique points will set you apart from the rest. To prevent this, prepare your response beforehand.

Any job interview will have many potential candidates with similar professional backgrounds. But each of them will have a different personal story. Your aim should be to weave in personal and professional experiences that help distinguish your profile.

Here are some tools and techniques you can use to deliver an interesting and impactful answer to this question:

1. Storytelling

Whether it’s the tales we read as children, the novels we read as adults or the stories we encounter every day on the internet, there’s something about a good story that just sticks. It’s the way the author paints a picture with their words that appeal to our emotions and sensibilities. This is the kind of emotion you should add to your own story to connect with the interviewer.

Translate your achievements, failures and experiences into an engaging and impactful story about yourself. Don’t summarize or explain your entire resume. Instead,  pick key things you’ve learned over the years and talk about them. Your story should be like a guide to your resume. It should show how you managed to do everything you’ve listed in that one or two-page document.

2. The PAM Framework

Harappa’s Purpose, Audience, Message or PAM Framework is a handy resource to structure your answer to the question ‘tell me about yourself’. The framework focuses on the importance of recognizing a clear purpose of your introduction, identifying who is listening and what it is that you’re trying to convey.

Once you have a clear purpose in mind—in this case, introducing yourself to your potential employer—you’ll be able to frame a succinct response. The next step is recognizing your audience. Do your research about the interviewer and the organization so you can tailor your answers according to their needs. Finally, your message should be clear, personal and informative.

3. Honesty And Authenticity

Let’s say that you start with a self-introduction. You decide to talk about your previous roles and responsibilities, experiences that shaped your life and achievements you’re proud of. But here’s the catch. The interviewer may ask you to support your answers with evidence and data. So, you should always be ready with examples to support your story.

For instance, if you want to say that you’re good at public speaking, mention that you successfully delivered a client presentation. Be authentic in your answers because the interviewer will be intuitive enough to catch you if you slip or if you provide false information.

4. The Art Of Persuasion

The purpose of your interview is to persuade the interviewer to hire you. You have to weave a story that sets you apart. Be truthful and honest in your answer and appeal to the emotions of the listener. Aristotle’s Appeals of Logos or reasoning, Ethos or credibility, and Pathos or emotions in  Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course can help you persuade your audience. To be successful in your interview, you should apply logic to your answers, be credible and use your emotions to connect with the interviewer.

5. Body Language

Another important part of tackling the ‘tell me about yourself’’ question is using the right body language when responding. You can’t be thinking of other things while answering questions in an interview. Try to focus on the interview, prepare and practice your answers in advance, and deliver a swift response. This will help improve your confidence and articulation.

How you sit, talk and move your hands says a lot about your state of mind. If your eyes dart in different directions with your hands clasped tightly, you may come across as someone who is extremely nervous or lacks confidence. You don’t want to slouch in your seat or wave your arms around when talking as this will make a negative impression. It’s natural to be nervous, and interviewers recognize that, but you should still try your best to appear calm and composed. Use your body language to exude confidence, energy, focus and warmth.

Let’s look at some of the essential aspects of a sound response to the ‘tell me about yourself’ question.

Do’s and Don’ts

Try to keep your answer to the ‘tell us about yourself’ question under a minute. Consider the following do’s and don’ts for the best answer to “tell me about yourself”:

 Do’s

  • Do prepare and practice your answer in advance

  • Do practice your tone and timing

  • Do appear friendly and enthusiastic throughout the interview

  • Do research the company and talk about things that are relevant to the job role

  • Do make eye contact with your interviewer

Don’ts

  • Don’t copy an answer off the internet

  • Don’t use the same answer for multiple companies

  • Don’t summarize your entire resume from high school to your last job

  • Don’t lie in your response or fabricate information

  • Don’t be overconfident or arrogant with your answers

It might be a stretch to say that one particular answer is the best answer to “tell me about yourself”. But you can always tailor your response depending on where you’re applying and to whom you’re speaking. With practice and experience, you’ll be able to ace the self-introduction question. All you need is the right mentality and focus to explain who you are, why you’re there and what you hope to achieve.

Key Points With Examples

Let’s look at some of the key points you should include in your response:

1. Strengths

If you want to talk about your strengths, highlight specific situations where you’ve applied your abilities. For instance, if you have a strong work ethic, you can cite instances where you helped a colleague or empathized with a teammate. If you want to say that you’re good at problem-solving, mention the steps you took to solve a problem at work. It could be a conflict between two colleagues where you were the peacemaker or a technical error that you resolved.

2. Weaknesses

It’s powerful to own your mistakes and failures. Talking about your weaknesses and how you overcame them at work will lend you more credibility. When talking about your failures, make sure you also describe what you learned from them and how you applied your learnings in other situations.

For instance, if you’re not great at teamwork, you can say that you requested training, one-on-one meetings and enrolled in relevant courses to learn about how to work in a team. If you missed an important deadline and lost a client’s trust, talk about how you went out of your way to build a rapport with that client by taking corrective measures.

3. Organization And Job Role

Makes sure you research the organization and the role you are applying for thoroughly. Tailor your response according to the job description and what the company is looking for in a candidate. For instance, if the job description lists technical know-how as a key skill, talk about computer programs or coding languages that you know or are currently learning.

It’s important to make sure that your answer comprises several parts that should form a coherent whole. Remember, when answering the “tell me about yourself” question you’re talking about yourself to someone who knows nothing about you.  Make sure you provide enough context and keep it crisp and relevant.

Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course will help you come up with an ideal response to the ‘tell us about yourself’ question.  Learn how to remain calm under pressure, address follow-up questions, and read nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions to enhance your interview skills. Interviews can be daunting but with practice, you can deliver the right answer to any question.


Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics & skills related to the Communicate habit such as Interpersonal SkillsPersonality DevelopmentProcess of CommunicationWhat is Report WritingWriting Skills and Self Introduction.

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