So…Tell Me About Yourself 

If you’ve ever been interviewed, you’ve probably received the question / statement in the subject line. Many times it’s the first primary question that’s asked, after the introductory chit chat. What’s your reaction to that question? Do some of the questions below immediately spring into your mind and stop you in your tracks?   

  • What do you really want to know? 
  • Where should I start? 
  • How long should I talk? 
  • What should I include? 
  • What should I leave out? 

If yes, then you’re like almost everyone I know. For being one of the most popular questions among interviewers, this question / statement probably draws out more anxiety from interviewees than almost any other I know. 

The Two Minute Drill

Basil Ford, one of our very experienced Crossroads Guides, recently shared a very practical and helpful structure to support people in answering that common question. He calls it the Two Minute Drill: Your answer should only last two minutes, and what you say should be so familiar to you that it’s a “drill.” The time segments are important to calibrate to as you don’t want to run on too long, and yet you also want to have enough content in what you say to create “hooks” for the interviewer, either subtly selling yourself or creating easily relatable data points or both. 

A way I use to characterize this question when I conduct interviews is as follows: “I’ve had the chance to review your resume, and I’d love to have you make that come alive for me a bit. Could you please tell me a bit about yourself?” That context might help you determine your content as outlined below. 

Here’s the structure, in order of sharing it with the interviewer: 

  1. Early years – 15 seconds.  While no one may care about your childhood, to give some reference to where you grew up and any circumstances that lends itself to a good work ethic could prove useful. 
  1. Education – 15 seconds.  Depending on what level of education you’ve attained and what status of schools you’ve attended, you’ll want to tailor this to lay some groundwork for potential networking contacts and notoriety of the education.  
  1. Recent career accomplishment – 30 seconds.  This isn’t a STAR story, but it is a direct opportunity to sell yourself into the vein of what role you’re applying for. If you’re concerned about being too boastful, the fact that you’re having that concern tells me you don’t have to worry. 😊 Sell, sell, sell.  
  1. Why in transition – 15 seconds. Be concise and careful. This is a segment you don’t want to stumble through. Be clear, positive, and without more detail than necessary. 
  1. What’s next – 30 seconds. Another opportunity to subtly sell what you’re looking for and how the role you’re interviewing for seems to be a great fit for you. No matter how long your transition has been going, you’ll want to be positive and optimistic about what’s next. 
  1. Personal information – 15 seconds. The intent here isn’t to share information the interviewer is prevented from asking (weight, marital status, etc.), but to share your interests, passions, values, or goals. Remember, you’re always selling, so you’ll want to authentically share who you are. 

Preparing With a Biblical Perspective

From a Biblical perspective, I’d suggest three filters to utilize as you prepare your answer for this question: 

  1. Prayer – Our best, but probably our most underutilized, tool. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” 
  1. Trust – While the world tells us to “be all that you can be” and “be your authentic self,” I believe we’ll do far better if we rely on God’s path to be the one we follow. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” 
  1. Glory – Aim for His glory, not our own. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” 

So…tell me about yourself. It’s one of the most common questions asked. I’m hopeful your answer will be uncommon… flavored by the grace and peace our Savior threads through your answer as you shine His light in this world. Blessings! 

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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