How to Answer the "Tell Me About Yourself" Interview Question

Here's how to knock this internship interview question out of the park

job interview
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Students who are in the final stages of their summer internship interviews commonly face one dreaded question. The question that commonly stumps students and often leaves them scrambling is the good old "tell me about yourself" inquiry. It's a veritable interview standby that you're sure to encounter.

Why the Question Is Asked

Employers ask students and entry-level candidates the "tell me about yourself" question for one of two reasons. Either the interviewer didn’t do his homework and prepare for the interview so this is his way of diving into the conversation, or he wants to hear you speak about yourself off-the-cuff.

Either way, it can put you on the spot. Can you form a proper answer to this seemingly endless question? When you're thinking about how to answer, keep the following tips in mind. 

Prepare as Much as Possible

Go to your career center and ask for a mock interview. They should also have a list of practice interview questions for you to review. Have the career center specifically ask you the ‘tell me about yourself’ question so you can get some practice in with that as well.

Keep It Short

Give a short, tight answer that doesn’t trail or goes off on a tangent. The second your thoughts start to wander, the employer’s mind will begin to wander as well. The interviewer wants to see firsthand how you communicate, so give him something to pay attention to. 

Start With Your School and Your Major

Give the basics first. For example, “I’m Lauren, I go to the University of Central Florida, and I’m majoring in communications.” Avoid stating your year in school. If the company wants to hire seniors and you're a freshman, you could lose the interview before you start. Reveal that you're a freshman — if he didn't already know — after the interview when you’ve impressed him.

Briefly Describe Your Interest in the Company 

You always want to tie your answers back to the company, especially at the beginning of the interview. You want to hold the employer’s attention. Give a short explanation of why you are interested in the company, such as, “I read about this company while researching PR internships online. After browsing your clients and executive bios, I knew this was the company I wanted to intern for.”

Give an Overview of Your Qualifications

Why are you the right person to work at the company? Give an overview of some of your qualifications. You can go into more detail later in the interview. You could also use this as an opportunity to mention any awards you’re proud of or recognition you’ve received.

Watch Your Tone and Articulate

You are an expert in yourself, so try not to let your nerves get to you. Watch the tone of your voice. Make sure you're speaking at the appropriate volume and that you speak slowly and clearly.

Be Yourself

The interviewer is also assessing you on how well he feels you will fit in with the overall company environment, so remember to be yourself. In other words, remember to smile and appear human. A tight, robotic response could cost you the interview.