What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Sheila Smith

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

For starters, don’t freak out! The interviewer uses this common question as an "ice-breaker even though it ends up being a “stumper” for many students. I find that reaction to be surprising. What did they think we'd be talking about? Your response to that initial question directs the flow of the conversation. Being prepared shows respect for the interviewer and gives you the ability to influence the outcome of the interview.

Peggy Wallace
Founder Making Conversation, LLC

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Take advantage of the interview opportunity. Anticipate this question. Prepare a "preview" of your accomplishments, achievements, interests and strengths, your "talking points", the foundation for your campaign to get the offer. The interviewer, who may not have reviewed, remembered or even had access to your application material, wants to find discussion topics which will reveal how you are a "fit" for them. Think about yourself from their perspective. What is relevant to them? What might they be looking for in an applicant?

Ronald Smith

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Be careful of adding in an obscure "what most people don't know about me is...." in order to make yourself "memorable." It’s a risky proposition unless it is something (a) you truly have in common with the interviewer (did you Google your interviewer or do you see that prized autographed baseball in his office?) or (b) relevant to an applicable quality, e.g. "my hobby is making model ships", then emphasize your attention to detail and patient persistence.

Peggy Wallace
Founder Making Conversation, LLC

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Try to view the "tell me about yourself" question as an opportunity to shine. If you have done your homework, you know what would be convincing to them. Provide sufficient detail to entice them to ask more, but don't recount all your best stories or start a long monologue. Respect the concept of the interview as a conversation, a "give and take," where each person feels respected. Once they indicate which delicacy might be of interest to them from your hors d'oeuvres tray, be prepared to demonstrate in detail through clear, concise, effective and persuasive stories and examples, showing off your accomplishments, achievements, interests, qualities and strengths. Once you have provided your intriguing amuse-bouche and don't skimp on the main course!

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Don't Rehash Your Resume

This is your chance to step beyond the four corners of your application! If you want to talk about your grades and school activities because you feel that they accurately reflect your true and unique characteristics -- then go for it. But if you feel that you are so much more than that -- feel free to share your outside interests, interesting experiences, your family life, your part-time job, etc. You might be an avid reader or a huge fan of movies. You might have a lucrative babysitting business. You might have an impressive collection of rocks! Talk about those things! They make you --- YOU! Remember -- the interview isn't about an academic evaluation -- it's to evaluate your suitability as a roommate and classmate!

Nicholas Umphrey

About you..

In just about any interview situation, this questions is always the "lead off hitter." I always thought about my answer to this one one the car ride to the interview since nobody else was with me, I was comfortable talking to myself. They want to know the basics: who are you? Your backgorund, interests, passions, and goals.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Discuss your favorite class or teacher. Talk about how you enjoy spending your time outside of your studies. Have you read an interesting article or book that you can discuss intelligently with the interviewer? What is your favorite extracurricular activity and why do you enjoy it so much? Don't be arrogant--be interesting and interested. As the interviewer about himself as well.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Tell me about yourself?

This question does catch many off guard because they began to give their life stories...do not make that mistake. The question should be answered from the vein of what your interviewing for...to enter colllege (academic information), for a job (work experience and special work related talents), for a scholarship (answers should relate to the mission of the scholarship). Leave your personal life personal.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

Be honest. You are human. You have strengths and weaknesses--talk about them. Some of them are already apparent from other parts of the application process, but the interview allows you to expand upon them, and to put a human face on all that you have previously submitted. Talk about the people, the things, and the experiences that are and have been important to you. Share your passion and let the interviewer know what matters to you. Doing it all in a comparatively concise, but clear way allows the interview to serve as a window into who you are so they can see what you can bring to their school community.

Claire Law

What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?

This open ended question can send students off topic if they don’t set out with a framework before answering. If there are interesting facts or sound bites about yourself or an experience that has shaped who you are, you may want to relate I here in the context of your life story. However, focus on your latest years of high school, because who you were in elementary or middle school was a different person than who you are now, as a soon-to-be high school graduate. If there are causes or issues about which you are passionate you can mention them here. Try to link your story to reasons why you are interested in their particular college.