How to Give a Brief Description of Yourself for a Job Interview

by Ruth Mayhew; Updated September 26, 2017

One of the interview questions job seekers seem to fret about is, "Tell me about yourself," which also happens to be one of the most common opening questions recruiters ask. When a recruiter asks this question, it's not an invitation to bore the interviewer with a lengthy soliloquy about your life. You're interviewing for a job, so what the recruiter really wants to know is why you're interviewing for the job and what you have to offer.

Prepare for this interview question by reviewing your resume and highlighting specific skills, qualifications or work experience that are relevant to the job you're interviewing for. Select only the most important facts. The recruiter should already have a copy of your resume; therefore, you needn't recite your entire work history.

Draft an "elevator speech" about yourself. An elevator speech is a short introduction that includes your education, work history and qualifications. It's a brief synopsis about your career and conveys, in as little time as possible, why you're a suitable candidate. This description of yourself should last no longer than approximately 60 to 90 seconds. According to Rachel Zupek, writer for CareerBuilder.com, a basic, open-ended question like this is "the perfect moment for you to toot your own horn -- not to tell your life history."

Explain your education or academic credentials, including any professional licenses or certifications you hold. If the job you're interviewing for is an occupation in which you've completed specific training, state that in your brief description. Similarly, if the job is something you've always dreamed of, express that fact within one or two sentences about your career and professional goals.

Draw parallels between your qualifications and the job posting. For example, if the posting indicates the company wants a salesperson who can produce record sales, illustrate your capability of closing sales effectively when you talk about your work history and accomplishments. Be specific -- state your sales figures from previous jobs and the qualities and traits to which you owe your professional success.

Conclude your professional description with a sentence about why you applied and what you have to offer to the company.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article