Tackling “Tell Me About Yourself”: How to Craft the Perfect Introduction

A blank yellow background, and in the foreground a human hand (only thumb and figures visible), holding a small blue wooden sign that says "hello"
Photo by Ann H

Picture this: you’re at a meetup, a conference, an interview, the grocery store… and you strike up a conversation with another person.  Then they say four little words that strike fear into your heart: “Tell me about yourself”!  Suddenly, your mind goes blank, and you’ve forgotten everything you’ve ever known about yourself.  Who are you, again?!  It’s worthwhile to think about how to answer this question before you actually have to answer it–and while you don’t want to sound like a robot, having a quick “intro” prepared means that you’ll never have to make it up as you go.  In this article, we’ll talk about how to answer “tell me about yourself” and successfully, well, tell people about yourself!

Ideally, your prepared response should be 30 to 60 seconds long–you don’t want to ramble or give your entire life story.  If the other person is interested, they’ll ask follow-up questions that invite you to share more details.  One effective way of structuring your response is to talk about what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, and what you hope to do in the future.  This gives a quick background of who you are, and a glimpse of what your goals might be.  You’ll also want to include a little bit of what makes you ‘tick’–in other words, what you’re most interested in, the values and principles that guide you, or special characteristics that make you stand out from the crowd. 

How well do you know yourself? 

Before you can tell someone else about yourself, you have to actually know things about yourself!  Consider the following questions to prepare your answer.  It may help to actually write down your answers to these questions, in full sentences.  You may find that one of those sentences would be a great thing to include in your “tell me about yourself” answer! 

Who am I?

  • What are my core values?  
  • What do I value the most in life?
  • Which of my experiences have had the most impact on me?
  • What sets me apart from others; what things make me unique?

What are my strengths and skills?

  • What am I good at?
  • What skills do I possess that are relevant to the software industry?
  • How have I demonstrated those skills in previous roles or experiences?

What is my professional background?

  • What roles have I previously held, and what were my responsibilities?
  • What career achievements am I most proud of?

Why am I interested in the technology industry?

  • How did I first become interested in technology?
  • What aspects of working in tech do I find most exciting?
  • How can I apply my previous experience to the technology field?

What are my career goals?

  • What does my ‘dream job’ look like? 
  • What type of technology would I like to work with the most?
  • Which specific technologies do I feel drawn to and want to explore further? 

Use your answers to these questions to craft your own answer to the “tell me about yourself” question.  Try to come up with an authentic response to the question that communicates a little bit about who you are, what skills you have, and why you want to work in the technology industry.

Some examples of answers to “tell me about yourself”: 

“Hey everyone, I’m Jess! I’ve been cruising through life in marketing, doing my thing with content creation and social media. But, you know, I’ve always had this itch to really make an impact on the world, and the whole coding scene really just lights me up.  I’ve always been really invested in environmental causes, so I’ve been getting cozy with Python and JavaScript lately to build a website for a local climate change activist group.  I’m excited to be at this meetup today, hoping to vibe with some awesome folks, soak up their wisdom, and make some connections in the local industry.”

“My name is Alex, and I’ve been cruising along working in finance for the past ten years.  Numbers have always been kind of ‘my thing’, and doing data analysis on financial reports got me interested in learning to code, so I picked up R and SQL by binge-watching tutorials and hacking away on personal projects.  I’m all about machine learning, and really hoping to find a position where I can get hands-on programming experience and learn a lot more about working with natural language processing and  generative AI.”

“Hi everyone, I’m Taylor!  I’m a licensed teacher and have spent the past five years teaching high school mathematics–which would surprise my high school teachers, because I was terrible at math!  It turns out I have a learning disability called dyscalculia, and after I learned how to work with my brain instead of against it, math wasn’t quite so scary.  Last year I was asked to teach AP Computer Science, and now coding has stolen my heart.  I’ve been geeking out over learning different programming languages lately: Java, Ruby, Python, Go… you name it, I’m all in.  I’m really into app development, and I’d love to work for an education technology company one day, making applications to support students with learning disabilities like mine.”

From the above examples, we can glean just enough information to feel a little bit like we “know” Jess, Alex, and Taylor.  For example, Jess is likely an environmental activist, works in social media, and is interested in web development.  From the language she’s chosen to use in her answer, we can also surmise that she is pretty friendly and relaxed around people she’s just met (or, at least, she’s very good at pretending to be that way!).

In Conclusion… 

Mastering the art of responding to the “tell me about yourself” question isn’t just about crafting the perfect introduction.  It’s also about self-discovery: by answering  introspective questions about your values, strengths, background, and goals, you’ll equip yourself with the knowledge necessary to tell a compelling story about yourself. Whether we’re a marketing guru like Jess, a “numbers guy” like Alex, or a caring educator like Taylor, each of us brings a unique blend of experiences, interests, and motivations to the table.  So, the next time someone asks you, “hey, tell me about yourself,” remember that it’s not just an opportunity to impress–it’s also a chance to share a piece of your authentic self with the world.  Happy sharing! 

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