How to Answer the Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question

tell me about yourself interview question

Almost every interview across any industry starts with the infamous tell me about yourself interview question. Hearing, “So, can you tell me a bit about yourself?” can bring a lot of fear and anxiety for a candidate — “How do I summarize all of my experience, qualities, in skills, in a way that isn’t boring yet also doesn’t span more than a minute or two?”

Fear not, reader, in this blog post we are going to dive into the way to conquer this question and break it down into easy steps. Preparing for the tell me about yourself interview question is one of the highest yield preparations you can do for your interview because it is guaranteed that you will repeat the answer you prepare in every interview you have. So let’s dive into it!

What Are Interviewers Looking for when They Ask this Question?

The reason interviewers ask the tell me about yourself interview question is twofold. First, this question is a good ice breaker. It would be quite awkward to meet in an interview and just start diving into technical interview questions. It’s a natural conversation starter to introduce yourself and you will find the interviewer usually does the same. The difference, of course, is that you are the one being interviewed and so your introduction — the answer to this question — is being evaluated, even subconsciously.

So the second reason interviewers ask this question is to get a quick overview of you as a candidate and set the stage for whether they are excited about doing the interview with you. They are looking to hear key words pertaining to the job you are interviewing for and relevant, high impact experience. They are also screening for social skills (for example, rambling for 10 minutes here would be a bad indicator). 

How to Answer the Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question

Now that we know what the interviewer is looking for on a high level, let’s dive into some of the ways you can answer and prepare for the question itself.

Below are two example templates that you can utilize in your response:

Rising Action

This template structure is about framing your response in a way that highlights the current work you are doing and builds a story that ends with the results of what you are achieving. It’s a great way to highlight your skills and impact in the role, and a natural conversation starter.

Another helpful benefit of this template is that you are getting ahead of the interviewer by highlighting your work, essentially taking control of the narrative of the interview. 

“I’m currently working on {your current and/or most relevant project}, supporting {business division}. I work in a cross-functional team, which consists of {any kind of people, e.g. engineers, QA testers, business analysts, scrum master, etc.}, and orchestrate the product’s development end to end.

My responsibilities include interviewing my clients and understanding their needs, documenting what clients said and sharing it with the rest of the team, and following agile principles to organize meetings to discuss requirements and check progress.

We rolled out the first version of our product {time when the first version was released to customers}, and data coming from the customer suggests that {a key KPI} increased by {percentage or any other relevant unit of measurement}.”

The Setting or Flashback Template

This template structure is more traditional and focuses on describing your actions in a way that gives an overview of your career so far and helps the interviewer understand where you’ve been and where you want to go, and your goals for this next chapter. 

“I’m here now, I started {x} years ago when I was at {Company A}, mainly working on {Greatest/most important project you worked on}, supporting {the business division that you were working with}. 

I realized that I really enjoyed {the kind of function/work/business division you were passionate about at the time} and decided to pursue my passion at {Company B} as I saw more opportunity for growth there.”

Check out more templates for answering this interview and a deeper dive into the templates in this Product Gym video.

What Should You Choose to Highlight in Your Answer?

During your pitch, it is important to highlight your experience as a Product Manager. You will want to utilize key words that hint to Product Manager skills, describe project(s) that demonstrate Product Manager work, and show confidence about your Product Manager career trajectory or your historical ability to make impact. 

One exercise that could be helpful here is to research the skills most described in Product Manager job postings and incorporate them into your pitch. You want to make sure the interviewers’ ear picks up on what they are looking for and that your pitch is engaging. What story are you trying to tell? The story should be of someone who has relevant experience and skills to the role and is now confident about their ability to make an impact as a Product Manager and what they want to do with this career move.

If you are interviewing for your first Product Manager role, do not worry, the above still applies to you. Even if you have not had an “official” Product Manager job before, this entire interview experience is about you demonstrating that you do have the capacity to make an impact as a Product Manager, and that should start with the first “Tell Me About Yourself” question. Examine your career and work experience thus far and map that experience to the skills of a Product Manager in your response. Most of all, have confidence! Remember the interview is not just about proving yourself, it is about the company proving themselves to you. You do have the skills and are capable for the role, and that should come across in your pitch.

How to Prepare for this Question

For your preparation, I recommend first writing out a general outline of your response. Feel free to reference the above templates. Then, go through and write out your pitch on paper or an online document. Finally, practice the pitch multiple times a day so that you can work towards more or less memorizing your pitch.

In addition, you should record yourself practicing your pitch so that you can work on delivery and timing. It can also be helpful to ask recruiters the question “What stood out to you about our conversation today?” after giving your pitch during an interview to get some feedback on what is coming through to the listener. Feel free to check out some additional tips and examples in this video:

Crush the Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question

The “Tell Me About Yourself” interview question is question is guaranteed to come up during your interviews, and most probably will come up during every single interview. Preparing for this question is an extremely important and high yield part of your interview process. You can utilize one of the templates we provided as a launching point in your preparation.

From there, you will want to prepare a response that includes key words and details that interviewers will be looking for, while still keeping the response relatively short and sweet. Like with most important interview questions, practice will make perfect here and you will want to make sure to build out practicing and refining your pitch as part of your interview preparation.

Looking for more guidance on how to tackle the gruelling Product Manager intervew process? Our in-house team of career coaches are offering free 20-minute sessions to help you out. Schedule yours today: we’d love to answer any questions you still have.

 


 

Samidha VisaiSamidha Visai is currently at KPCB-backed security startup Secureframe as the first Product Manager hire. Her career started in Software Engineering, with experience at Microsoft and Lyft, and led her to entrepreneurship where she launched a clothing rental startup. She is passionate about bringing together diverse ideas and stakeholders along with strong empathy to build the best products possible. She currently lives and works in San Francisco and spends her free time diving deep into the practices of yoga and meditation.

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