How to answer: Tell me about yourself

How to answer: Tell me about yourself

October 17, 2016 Interviewing

Tell me about yourself.

At the core, what interviewers want to assess when asking this job interview question is your decision-making ability.

  • Are you logical?
  • Are you thoughtful?
  • Are you analytical?
  • How do you think?
  • Do I agree with your motivations for selecting job opportunities?
  • Do we think similarly?
  • Sometimes, it’s about whether the interviewer himself made the right decisions in his own career…

What I have found coaching senior-level executives across sectors in various countries has been that the dynamics can be complex if you are vying for an executive-level role within an organization. The expectations are higher for one and the scope of responsibilities are broader so there is more at stake. Plus, the interviewer doesn’t want to make his own bad decision.

The best way to take into account this complexity is by shifting the focus of this question from your career history to an interviewer’s interests and priorities.

This idea is captured in my “Pinocchio visual.”


Start by understanding your interviewer on your own…

Here are two highly effective suggestions:

  1. Look at an interviewer’s LinkedIn recommendations – what do they value in professionals and what do others value about your interviewer?
  2. Consider whether the interviewer has worked for the company for a while – if he is a longer-term employee and you’ve job-hopped then be sure to convince the interviewer that this employer would be your longer-term stop. There are other points to reinforce if you and the interviewer have similar loyalties – we can talk about those during a 30-minute session if that is the case.

then ask your network.

Here are some ideas of how to gather useful insights from peers:

  1. Ask about the interviewer’s leadership style? Pay attention to the adjectives that best describe your interviewer.
  2. Gain an understanding around an interviewer’s legacy in the company…his biggest deals or greatest wins.

The logic behind getting to know your interviewers is that all job candidates have to behave as marketers.

Marketers have to get to know their target audiences in order to convey relevant messages.  

You have to market your potential impact.

It is your job to get to know within whom you’ll be meeting so that you too can refine and tailor your key message.

In my next blog post, I will go into how you can use your findings to craft an effective answer to that “Tell me about yourself” question.

Can’t wait?

Last minute interview?

Schedule a 30-minute session right here during which time I can help you craft and perfect your answer to the “tell me about yourself question.”

You’ll need to have a compelling interview answer to that “tell me about yourself” question.

Your response is actually PIVOTAL to your job interview success because ultimately as a senior leader you are being hired to make GREAT decisions.

Your decision-making is under close scrutiny in how you launch your job search and is under a magnifying glass during job interviews.

About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.