Don't let the inevitable, open-ended question at your college or internship interview fill you with dread. These creative and unique "tell me about yourself" examples will help you demonstrate your motivations and background in a way that'll wow when it really matters.
The most powerful and successful answers to the "tell me about yourself" question are closely related to your end goal and the goal of the person interviewing you. The first step is to consider what you want. Are you trying to get into a graduate or undergraduate program? Are you trying to land a great internship? What does the person interviewing you want to see?
Then, think about your personal history and your strengths. How do those fit with the goals you just considered? Closely connecting your answer to those goals gives you a strong advantage, as you can see in these examples.
I've always loved the Victorian period in English literature. Even as a kid, Dickens captured my imagination more thoroughly than the Harry Potter stories or anything else. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, I studied English with a concentration on Victorian fiction. Now, I hope to continue exploring this fundamentally important literary period as a graduate student.
I'm a senior at Michigan Technological University, majoring in biomedical engineering. Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to work in the field of prosthetics. I saw first-hand how a prosthetic limb helped give my best friend a normal teenage life, and I've always wanted to be a part of that process. I'm drawn to prosthetic design and research, which is why I'm so excited to learn more about the internship your company is offering.
You'll have about two minutes to answer the "tell me about yourself" question. So, think of this as your "elevator pitch." You need to cover the basics, but it's even more important to make it memorable. You want the interviewer to remember this answer when he or she thinks back on the day.
What are some of your unique qualities? How have you demonstrated those in the past? Consider this example:
During my freshman year of high school, I started a business designing and making custom prom dresses. It started with just four or five girls, but by the time I was a senior, everyone wanted to wear one of my gowns. I had two other girls helping me with the sewing, but I did the design work myself. I've known for a long time that I wanted to go into fashion design, but I also know there's a lot I still want to learn about the artistic and business sides of the field. That's why I really want to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
If you've studied writing in high school or college, you probably remember the adage "show, don't tell." This refers to using an example and good visual imagery to make your point instead of just summarizing or stating it. The best answer for "tell me about yourself" does this too.
Show how you are the right candidate for the internship or program using real examples from your life, as in this example response:
I graduated in May from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in accounting, but my passion for numbers goes back much further than that. Even as a kid, I loved tax season. My parents used to think it was funny, and it definitely didn't endear me to other fifth graders. When I was 11, my mom let me do her taxes, and I just can't describe the satisfaction I felt when I saved her money. Wisely, she had an accountant check my work, and she came back shocked that I hadn't made any mistakes. She used the money from her refund to buy me books on accounting. For as long as I can remember, I've dreamt of working at H&R Block, and this internship opportunity is that dream come true.
When you think about your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question, it's also important to know what not to say. Take some time to learn what topics and habits you should avoid.
Don't make these common mistakes:
- Summarizing your resume or the list of classes you've taken
- Offering overly personal details like political and religious views
- Talking too long about too many things
- Including too many negative traits or answers
- Not planning your answer ahead of time
- Being too general and not offering enough examples
- Making grammatical errors and speaking very informally
I graduated this spring from Montana State University. It took me basically forever to decide what I wanted to major in, but I finally settled on biology. It's better than the other sciences, I guess, and I'm pretty decent at it. I've taken all kinds of biology classes, but I like marine biology best. It's just fun. That's why I want to go to grad school for marine biology.
Answering an interview question like "tell me about yourself" is all about making a favorable first impression. Just like your cover letter and resume, how you answer this question can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the opportunity you want. Take the time to prepare and practice, and you'll be well on your way to success.