One of the toughest questions for many people is the broad and generic question, "Tell Me About Yourself." Even experienced candidates can freeze in the eyes of such a broad interview question.
Yes, "Tell me About Yourself" seems like an open invitation to tell your life's story. Still, you shouldn't be surprised when you start describing where you grew up that your interviewer quickly loses interest. Worse yet, as the first question you may be asked during an interview, flubbing this question can put you on edge for the rest of the conversation.
So how do you ace this question? Reply with your personal elevator pitch. In a minute or less, and in fewer than 150 words, describe who you are and what you have to offer.
Here is one framework that can help you succeed. I will elaborate on each of the four steps below.
1. Describe who you are.
2. Connect your identity to this job or career.
3. Then explain why you are switching jobs.
4. Close with enthusiasm for this job.
Describe who you are
Yes, you want to give a little bit of background on who are, but just one or two sentences will be sufficient to describe your backstory. What details of your biography or resume are most relevant to this employer? What personal experiences are critical to understanding why you do what you do?
Connect your identity to this job or career
In one or two sentences, explain how your love of analysis and fascination with all creatures great and small has taken you into the field of biological research, where you want to answer questions such as...
Explain why you are switching jobs
This may seem obvious to you, but it isn't for the interviewer. If you are bored, say that you are looking for bigger challenges. If you are unhappy in your work environment, describe the type of culture where you would thrive. "While I've enjoyed doing basic research in an academic setting, I want my work to have a more tangible impact on the world. So, I'm taking the jump to applied research in the private sector."
Close with enthusiasm for this job
"I'm really excited about the work you've been doing in ... research, and I believe that your firm is a great fit for me. I look forward to learning more today."
Want more examples? Here are a couple of additional sample answers to the job interview question, "Tell me about yourself." The examples are for a medical lab technician looking to jump into a different type of laboratory testing.
I have spent my entire professional career in healthcare, and always loved science even when I was in school. As a med tech, I have the opportunity both to help patients identify their illnesses and to work in a laboratory. While I have been really successful doing blood work, I am ready to do something new, and I see bone marrow testing as a logical next step. Looking at your lab, I am excited about .... and also about ....
While I am a newcomer to bone marrow testing, my years of performing blood work will prepare me well for this kind of testing. I understand the process of diagnostic testing, being part of a laboratory team, using various kinds of equipment, and looking at blood cells through a microscope to identify which cells are healthy and which are infected. I know that bone marrow testing is different in the following three ways (1..., 2...., 3.....), and I will put in the time needed to get up to speed as quickly as I can.