It’s perhaps the most universally dreaded interview question. “Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?” If anyone knows who you are, it’s well, you. Still, it’s essential to strike the right tone when tackling this question. You can’t brag too much, but you also don’t want to downplay the value you have to offer as an employee.
Customize these templates and practice reciting them so you’ll be ready to talk about yourself in a clear, engaging way. You can also use the templates to help you answer written questions in response to an online application or screening interview.
Grab-and-go Templates to Answer the “Tell me about yourself” Interview Question
1 – Applying for Your First Job as a New College or University Graduate
I graduated from ____ in ____ with a degree in ____, and I’m starting to build my career. As a student, I was able to explore several topics related to ____ (college major), like _____, so I’m taking particular notice of job openings where I can grow that interest.
Many of the strengths I relied on as a student are sure to impact my career moving forward. I’ve always been detail-oriented, deadline-focused, and adept at juggling multiple tasks at once. Many of my professors have noted that they enjoyed the way I approached their classes with enthusiasm and deep interest. I hope to bring that same enthusiasm to this position.
2 – Transitioning from One Industry to Another
Many people find my career journey very intriguing because it’s definitely not a straight line from Point A to Point B. While my degree is in ____, only my first job out of college was directly related, at least on paper. I started my work life as a ____ at a ____ company. From there, I moved to the _____ field, then _____, and finally, _____.
Why would someone choose a career with such a winding path? For me, it’s about always staying open to new experiences, looking for unexpected connections, and just plain curiosity. I love expanding my horizons and meeting people who are passionate about different topics.
At this point, I’ve developed a broad knowledge around several topics and in-depth, focused expertise within each of those. I can bring a well-rounded, big picture perspective to this role that you won’t find anywhere else.
3 – Looking for Work after a LayOff
For the past ____ years, I’ve been working as a ____ in the ____ industry. Unfortunately, the company experienced a downturn and had to lay off workers recently. I was one of the unlucky ones.
While it’s tough to deal with a sudden unexpected job loss, the experience has opened up new opportunities and a chance to expand my career in a different way. I’ve discovered that my ____ experience is well-suited for positions like this.
Throughout my career, I’ve honed an ability to stay focused amid chaos, learned how to be a valuable team member, and to respect the value of learning from mentors in the field. These are skills I feel will translate well to this position.
4 – Applying for a Position in a New Specialization
____ (main topic) has been the focus of my career for the past __ years. I’ve held several roles within this field, which has given me a broad-ranging set of experiences I could draw from in this position.
For __ years, I was a ____ in the ____ department. I moved from there to ____, and most recently, to the ____ team. Each of these positions has added to my knowledge about ____ (industry).
Throughout my career, I’ve developed several skills that would be useful in any field. I’m detailed-oriented, focused, and a quick learner. I’ve also developed the ability to adapt my skillset in ways that match the current task at hand. Being versatile is a vital skill when you’re part of a team.
5 – Addressing Why You’ve Held Many Jobs
Over the past several years, I’ve been building my career in a unique way. I’ve gained experience as a ____, ____, ____, and even a ____. Working in each of these roles has allowed me to develop skills I can take anywhere.
As I look back, I find it interesting how these different roles have become interconnected in unexpected ways. Any position benefits from workers who appreciate their teammates and who are open to learning new skills. I’ve discovered that I’m a quick learner and adaptable to a wide range of environments.
At this point in my career, I’m ready to tie my unique experiences together and apply the lessons I’ve learned to this position.
6 – Applying for a Job with a Management Background
I’ve been working in the ____ field for ____ years now. Throughout my career, I’ve held several positions with escalating responsibilities. At this point, I manage a team of __ workers in my company’s ____ department.
I’m a natural manager. My team members routinely tell me I’m one of the best supervisors they’ve had in their careers, and I think it’s because I respect who they are as people first. A team made up of workers who feel valued is a team that gets things done, and we do.
I’m confident that managing your ____ team would be an ideal fit for the skillset I’ve developed along the way. I’m impressed with ___ _’s (company) growth over the past several years and would jump at the chance to become a part of the management team driving that success.
7 – Applying for a Company Job as an Independent Contractor
For the past ____ years, I’ve been working as an independent contractor in the __ field. It’s been a rewarding, informative chapter in my life, but I’m ready to join a team-based environment at this point in my career.
As my “own boss,” I’ve had to develop several crucial skills. I can say with confidence that I am a self-starter, extremely focused, and client-oriented. As an independent contractor, your success depends on how satisfied you keep your customers, and I have never had a problem doing just that.
Joining the ____ team would be a natural next step in my ____ career. I’d be able to hit the ground running, and can add a helpful perspective that can enhance your processes. I’ve been right in the field and can share what I’ve learned there.
8 – Returning to Work After a Maternity or Paternity Leave
I’ve been a ____ (most recent position) for the past ____ years, pausing recently to focus on my young family. Now that we’re past the baby stage, I’m eager to return my attention to my chosen career in ____.
My work experience has helped me grow as an employee and also as a person. Working as a ____ taught me the importance of being detail-oriented, focused, and how best to be a valuable team member, no matter the task at hand.
I’d love to join the ____ team as your next ____. I’m sure you will find that I’m a dedicated, loyal employee, a quick learner, and an enthusiastic addition.
9 – Returning to Work after a Sabbatical
To say I’ve had an interesting ____ career would be an understatement. Recently, I returned from ____ (length of time) sabbatical, where I was able to focus a deal of attention on ____. This experience will no doubt help to guide me through the next phase of my career.
Before and during my sabbatical, my ability to manage multiple projects has been a valuable asset. I’ve also continued to develop my abilities to stay goal-oriented and self-directed. Each of these skills will help to inform my work going forward.
I was excited to learn about the ____ position at ____ (company) for several reasons, but primarily because when I read through the job description, I could immediately envision being a part of this team. I’m confident I’d bring the kind of big picture thinking and enthusiasm to the team that will help drive you toward even more success in the ____ industry.
10 – Looking for Work After Working on a Personal Project
I’ve spent the past ____ years developing an in-depth knowledge of ____ in the ____ industry. Of all the skills I’ve honed over the years, the most important might be resilience.
You have to be resilient to come back from failure, and that’s what I’ve done. While it was difficult to reflect on the reasons why I failed when I tried to ____, the experience has left me wiser, stronger, and more determined than ever to achieve my next goal.
Many people would shy away from discussing a failure, but I truly believe that failure drives us to success. There’s a Winston Churchill quote that sums up my philosophy: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I didn’t give up when I failed, and I will bring that determination to my next role, as well.
11 – Applying for a Job After Winding Down a Business Project
I’ve spent the past ____ years in the ____ industry, most recently as the sole proprietor of a small business focused on ____. I’ve decided to leave behind the small business world and join a company for several reasons.
I discovered several things about myself through the experience of running my own small business. First, I’m good at setting and achieving goals. I’m also a fantastic salesperson and a pro at customer relations. At the same time, I’ve realized that for all the benefits of running your own business, there are a few aspects that didn’t wind up being the best fit for me.
I like being part of a team and working with other people on shared goals. As a business owner, I missed having coworkers and the structure of a set schedule. While I enjoyed being my own boss, I also found I’m happiest when I’m contributing in other ways. I’m excited to get back to working on a team like this one.
12 – Applying for a New Position As Long Time Employee at the Same Job
I’ve been a ____ at the same company for ____ years. Why make a move now? Well, it’s just time. At this stage, I’ve developed in-depth knowledge about the ____ industry. I enjoy being an expert on several topics, but I’m ready to use that knowledge to power me in a new direction.
When you’re a long time employee, you can get stuck in a rut, but that hasn’t really been my experience. All along the way, I’ve absorbed new information and developed new skills. I think that a job is more than just what you do every day. It’s more about why you do it. For me, it’s been about learning and growth. I’ve grown, and now it’s time to move on.
This job opening appeals to me on a few levels. It requires a mix of skills and experiences I’ve been developing for my whole career, but it also offers the opportunity to continue growing. I’m confident you’d find me to be a reliable, enthusiastic, dedicated member of the team.
13 – Seeking a Job with a New Job Title
I’ve been a ____ in the ____ industry for ____ years. My current title is “____,” but I’m ready to branch out into a ____ role. My experience as a ____ will help me jump right into this role.
As a ____, I’ve always been detail-oriented, a quick learner, and a dedicated team member. I enjoy the experience of collaborating with coworkers to work toward a goal because I’m comfortable taking on different roles as needed. As a member of any team, you need to be able to take a step back and decide how you can apply your skills in the most helpful way. I’ve become very good at this.
I’m excited about the ____ position because it seems like a great way to marry my skills as a ____ with a new role that is similar, but different enough to open up new opportunities for career and personal growth.
14 – Applying for a Position After Relocating for Personal Reasons
I’ve been working in the ____ field as a ____ for ____ years. My most recent experience was in _____ (city, state, country, or region), so I’m new to ____. So far, I’ve found this to be a warm, welcoming place.
Back in ____, I was known for being an integral part of the team and a dedicated worker. My boss would often comment on my detail-oriented work product and the way I brought enthusiasm to every project. I’m sure I can bring that same work ethic to the ____ role.
I plan to put down new roots here in ____. It’s a place I can imagine will become my new hometown in no time.
15 – Seeking Work After Immigrating to another country
I was born in ____ (country) and immigrated to the U.S. with my family in ____ (year). Back in ____, I worked as a ____ in the ____ industry. I’ve been a bit relieved to realize the skills I’ve been developing throughout my career are just as helpful here as they were back in my home country.
As a ____, it’s always been important that I have a good eye for detail, an appreciation for deadlines, and the ability to juggle several tasks at once. A few of the processes are different between the two countries when it comes to this field, but on the whole, they are quite similar and are aimed at achieving the same goals.
I’m excited to become a part of a ____ (country)-based team, especially at ____ (company). I’m looking forward to putting down new roots and working alongside people who love what they do, just like me.
16 – Transitioning from Research or Academia to Tech Career
I’ve been steeped in the ____ industry for ____ years, primarily as a researcher. This experience has given me the unique ability to analyze industry issues from a big picture perspective. Now, I’m ready to apply that insight more directly.
When you’re a researcher, detail matters. If you miss something small, the whole project can be in jeopardy. I’ve become skilled at focusing on the details, keeping my eyes on the prize even when there’s a long way to go to get to the goal, and for making sense of complicated issues.
As a ____, I’m confident the skills I’ve developed as a researcher will add value to the ____ team. I’m excited to become a part of creating something more tangible.
17 – Finding a New Position as an Older Adult
I’ve been working in the ____ industry since I graduated from ____. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to witness many industry changes and have had to learn to become adaptable, dependable, and focused.
One thing I’ve learned is that the tech industry is all about change. You never want to become too used to a particular way of doing things because new developments are always on the horizon. That’s part of why tech is such an exciting, versatile field.
Around the office, I’ve always been known as detail focused and as a quick learner. I’m confident those skills would help me become a valuable member of your team in no time.
18 – Finding a Position After Returning to College to Change Careers
In my former life, as I like to say, I was a ____. These days, I’m building a new career as a ____. I recently received my ____ degree in ____ from ____.
Why change careers midstream? For me, it was about realizing my chosen profession was ok, but not the best fit for who I really was. I loved certain aspects of it, but I began to realize at some point that what I actually wanted to do work in the ____ field.
If I had any doubts, my college experience erased all of them. As I’ve worked through my degree program, I’ve enjoyed each topic more than the last. At this point, I’m well-versed in several topics related to ____, and the experience I’m bringing to the table from my first career will help me become a key player on your team.
Go on, tell them all about yourself
Much like an elevator speech, you should be prepared to answer this question on the fly. It can come in handy when you’re networking, both personally and professionally.