It sounds like such a simple, obligatory question. “So, tell me a little about yourself …” Whether it’s asked of you at a job interview, on a date or sitting down with your significant other’s parents, this kind of open-ended inquiry can be daunting and difficult to answer. A short, halting answer can come off as dismissive while a rambling and scattered response will surely set your first impression off on the wrong foot. Here’s how to answer that loaded question without breaking a sweat.
Keep It Brief
Think of this as your elevator pitch, the quick speech that succinctly describes who you are, what you do and what you’re looking to accomplish in the future. You want to keep it between 30 and 60 seconds, no need to overwhelm your audience with easily forgettable details. You want it to be engaging—the outcome of your pitch should evoke conversation.
Know Your Brand
Sharon Napier, CEO of advertising agency Partners + Napier says that you should think of yourself as a brand in order to sell yourself. “The most successful brands know themselves: their purpose, mission and values,” she says, referencing Red Bull, Chipotle and Apple. “Likewise, employers are looking for people who know and live their ‘brand purpose,’ because with clarity comes passion.”
Know Your Audience
Having a short and memorable answer to the “tell me about yourself” question will give you a boost of confidence (and definitely a head start on job hunting). But you also need to think about to whom you’re giving your answer to—an interviewer will want to hear something slightly different than a person you just met at a party.
Show, Don’t Tell
Make It Memorable
“Mention something very, very hard to forget about you that separates you from the rest,” says Tim Ferris. A unique, funny or just random fact about you (like you play a mean ukulele, can list all the cities that have hosted an Olympics or that you used to be in the military and worked on an aircraft carrier) can lead to some promising follow-up questions. Or at the very least make you stand out.