How to Prepare for the Interview Question "Tell Me about Yourself"

By -Julia Park and Jenny HaleApril 23, 2017

During the job search process, some employers are overwhelmed with applications and have to sort through them to find the most qualified candidates. So when a candidate does get a call, it's important to optimize the time they have to explain why they are the best choice.

Most employers ask some version of the statement "tell me about yourself." Employers remember if the response to basic questions was informative, or if it came off as a rambling. It's important to be prepared for these types of interview questions.

At a job fair, employers may talk with 50 candidates or more during an event, and a hiring manager may call several different people for a single opening. A candidate must ensure that their introduction is remembered, concise, and shows their qualifications.

The Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program, or SFL-TAP, advises transitioning Soldiers to develop and practice a 30-second introduction, sometimes referred to as an elevator speech. The concept behind this speech is that an individual should be able to tell someone about themselves in the time it takes an elevator to go from the bottom floor of a building to the top floor. Unlike television and radio commercials, which sometimes contain a catchy jingle, the speech should be said be more like a short, professional infomercial - one that sells the candidate!

Use this speech to introduce yourself to the employer. With timed practice, a candidate will be able to include some of their strengths, any applicable training or education, and their experience as it relates to the company or position. By keeping the introduction brief, not only is there a better chance of the employer remembering the individual's skills among other candidates, but also less of an opportunity for the employer to forget important details.

If a candidate is completing a phone interview, be sure to get the interviewer's contact information and send a thank you note after the interview. If the candidate is at a networking event or job fair, leave a resume with the contact that expands upon the individual's skill sets. Also ask for the employer's business card and be sure to follow-up.

Learn how to create a 30-second speech while attending SFL-TAP. Soldiers are encouraged to start the program 18 months prior to transition and 24 months prior for retirees in order to give Soldiers the time to complete mandatory requirements, prepare a resume, master their 30-second speech, and start the civilian job search. For more information on SFL-TAP, visit or reach out to a local center.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published as "Jobseekers advised to develop 30-second 'sound bite'" in the Turret, September 2007, by Julia Park.