Ask a recruiter: How to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” in an interview.
Use our recruiter tips and tricks to help you leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.
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You always want to leave an interview on a high note, hoping you’ve demonstrated to the hiring manager that you’re the ideal candidate.
While the questions you’re asked will vary per interview, there’s one you’ll always encounter: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” In this edition of #AskARecruiter, our recruiters share their insights on the best response to that question and what resonates. Here are four ways to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question, straight from our team.
Give a high-level overview of your career progression.
Finance Recruiter Luis P. advises candidates to think of their response as an elevator pitch. Be organized, direct and interesting for about 90 seconds. Anything less than 60 seconds may be too short and over two minutes may lose your interviewer’s attention or take time away from other questions. Here are a few bases to cover when answering this question:
How you began your career. “Where you are in your career will determine how much you elaborate in this part of your response,” Luis said. Some topics to consider touching on include skills that relate to the role and any volunteer work you've done.
How you progressed into your current role. Highlight your career progression by sharing your job titles, roles and the previous companies you've worked for, while relating your skills and responsibilities back to the role you’re seeking in the interview.
Where you are in your career today. Here, you’ll want to talk about the scope of your current role and highlight any of your biggest accomplishments in that position. Bring in any significant outcomes or metrics that pushed the needle.
What you want and what you bring to the table. Gaze into the future and show that you have aspirational goals for what’s next in your career plan. Explain why you’re interested in this position and, most importantly, why you’re a great fit.
Tailor your answer to the role while highlighting achievements.
Avoid rambling, remain professional and stay focused as you highlight the skills and assets you would bring to the team. It’s helpful to practice your talking points, but don’t feel like you need to stick to a script.
Tony C., a recruiter for Legal/Corporate Security, says that to truly stand out, you must present a memorable response that separates you from other candidates.
“Many applicants tend to shy away from the purpose of this question by answering with personal information about their families, hobbies, and/or interests,” Tony said. “In a humble manner, this is your opportunity to sell your passion for the industry and skill sets that are needed to succeed in the role you hope to get, and to speak about success stories in your current role.”
Success stories from previous roles can give recruiters great insight into your professional capabilities. Highlight any significant and quantifiable accomplishments you've made in the industry. This will paint a bigger picture of what you’re capable of achieving.
Keep your answer concise.
For marketing recruiter Gina B., candidates who stand out the most are those who make a short statement summarizing their background and briefly highlighting each position they've held.
A memorable candidate, she said, keeps it short and sweet, providing 1-2 sentences about their projects, team and specific role. The goal is not only for the recruiter to learn more about the candidate, but also to see how well they can communicate a substantial amount of information in an engaging and effective manner— something they will have to do on the job.
You don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty here. Too much detail will result in irrelevant information and the interviewer losing interest. Share enough detail so they understand the high-level of your role. They can then follow up with specific questions.
Gina B., Marketing Recruiter
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