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Cracking the 'Tell Me About Yourself' Interview Question

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

This Simple Formula Will Supercharge Your Next Job Interview

The first question in an interview is often the trickiest one to tackle. It leaves us wondering about the right amount of information to share. Are they interested in our personal life, or just a professional overview? In essence, it's a puzzle of where to start and what the interviewer truly wants.

As an interview coach and trainer, I've guided hundreds of individuals through this perplexity, understanding exactly what recruiters and hiring managers are eager to hear from you.

This initial question isn't just a warm-up; it's a chance to craft an indelible impression. Your answer lays the foundation for the entire interview. Imagine stepping onto a stage with a spotlight aimed squarely at you. How you approach this pivotal question could spell the difference between acing the interview or stumbling at the very start.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the job-seeking journey, get ready to reshape your interview game. Join me as we unpack this fundamental opening question into your avenue to interview success.

Setting The Stage: Key Considerations Before Exploring the Formula

Setting a strong foundation is crucial, especially in the initial moments of a job interview. This is when the interviewer is forming their first impressions of you and assessing your communication style. Making a positive impact in this short time-frame is essential. To ensure you seize this opportunity, having a well-thought-out plan is vital. Without a clear strategy, you might lose focus and miss the chance to leave a lasting impression.

Navigating the interview with clarity is key. Having a structured approach acts as a roadmap to guide you. This involves introducing your current role, briefly touching on your past experiences, and discussing your future aspirations – all within the first minute. This approach showcases your professionalism and effective communication skills. It's not about suppressing your individuality; it's about demonstrating your ability to convey important information concisely – a skill highly valued by employers.

Emphasizing the essentials is essential. Keep in mind that this initial question isn't an invitation to narrate your life story. It's an opportunity to highlight what truly matters – your skills, experiences, and enthusiasm for the position. Embrace the structured format, carefully craft your response, and make your opening impactful. The aim is to pique the interviewer's curiosity, and a well-organized approach is your most effective tool to achieve that.

The Winning Approach: The "Present-Past-Future" Formula

Let's dive into the formula – a tried-and-true structure that keeps your response focused, engaging, and on point. It's your key to capturing the interviewer's attention and holding it throughout.

This question isn't just an opener; it sets the tone for the entire interview. To make the most of this opportunity, it's vital to have a well-prepared and practiced answer. The "present-past-future" approach is a fantastic formula to employ. Start by discussing your current skills and experiences, then delve into relevant accomplishments from the past. Finally, outline your future career ambitions and illustrate how the role you're interviewing for aligns with your vision.

This strategy provides the interviewer with a comprehensive view of your professional journey while showcasing your potential for growth within the company.

"Every answer is an opportunity to paint a canvas of competence and character."


In this section, you'll focus on your current situation and responsibilities. Consider highlighting your current job title and the company you work for. Share a brief description of your main responsibilities and how your skills contribute to the company's goals. Think about what sets you apart in your current role and what key skills you bring to the table.

Here's what it sounds like:

Right now, I work as a Customer Service Representative at ABC Company. I have been working here for the past 3 years and I have been responsible for assisting customer as they arrive in the store. I use my strong communication skills to assist my customers with queries and concerns they may have and to ensure that they have a positive experience in the store.


In this part, reflect on your previous experiences that are relevant to the role you're applying for. Discuss a past job or position that helped you develop skills or knowledge that are applicable to the new role. Mention any accomplishments, projects, or responsibilities that demonstrate your expertise and suitability for the job.

Here's what it sounds like:

Before I joined ABC Company, I was a Customer Support Specialist at XYZ Services. I always made sure my customers were really happy with the service they were receiving, and that they were educated about any extra services and add-ons that could enhance their insurance package. I was even recognized for being great at turning tough situations around. This helped me get really good at solving problems and making customers feel comfortable.


Here, share your aspirations and goals related to your career trajectory. Discuss how you plan to grow professionally, learn new skills, and contribute to the field or industry. Tailor your future goals to align with the company's mission and the role you're interviewing for. This shows your enthusiasm for the position and your commitment to advancing in your career.

Here's what it sounds like:

In the future, I want to get even better at managing relationships with customers. I'm excited to make their experience even better. I'm also interested in helping new team members learn the ropes and finding ways to make our processes work even smoother.

Mastering your response to the opening question serves as your gateway to success throughout the interview. By adopting the "present-past-future" formula outlined in this post, you gain a clear roadmap to create a compelling, concise response that immediately engages the interviewer. Remember, the first question is only the beginning.

In your journey to shine during job interviews, keep in mind that there's a formula for every question you might encounter. My comprehensive interview guide includes these formulas and scripted answers for nearly every possible interview question. If you're excited to unveil these tools and be well-prepared for any interview question, click the link below.

This knowledge will boost your confidence, allowing you to face interviews with assurance and create a lasting impression on interviewers.

Your road to interview success starts right here.

If you know someone who is preparing for a job interview, please share this post with them:)

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