How to answer 'Tell me about yourself' in a job interview

Hand On Mouth

Experts reveal how to answer one of an employer's most commonly asked questions.

I panicked the first time a prospective employer asked, "So, tell me about yourself."

I briefly described my background and listed my journalism experience — singular — writing for my school's student newspaper. Desperate to appear more qualified, I highlighted some extracurricular activities that showed my skills and work ethic .

I didn't have much of a resume following my first year of college. In fact, the content barely reached half a page. That's including the education and contact information at the top.

I remember frantically thinking of ways to apply my role as a student writer to an established media company during that first interview. Realistically, I had minimal responsibilities, especially compared to a seasoned reporter.

Mentors told me, "Show your best self." But what does that mean? I managed to think of some responses after struggling through a few more interviews .

But to help you, CNBC Make It went to experts Joan Kuhl and Sandy Gould for tips on how talk about yourself in your next interview.

1. Keep the job in mind

"List the job's required skills and match your skills to the list," says Kuhl, founder and CEO of Why Millennials Matter. "Whether they were professionally learned skills or those you developed through extracurricular activities, volunteer work, class, everything counts."

2. Prepare in advance

"Do your research about the company and who you are interviewing with," says Gould, head of talent at Oath. "You can easily search for your interviewer on LinkedIn and find out a little bit more about the person you are talking with," then focus on the strengths he or she would find interesting and relevent.

3. Have confidence in your experience

"Be prepared to succinctly represent your work experience as far back as possible. Do not feel like your experiences are not 'good enough,'" says Kuhl. "Every experience can teach you valuable lessons and transferable skills. It is all about how you sell yourself."

4. Express your interest

"Showcase eagerness and excitement about the opportunity, as well as willingness to try new things and to grow your task management and execution skills," says Gould.

5. Show off your critical thinking skills

"Be prepared to share a story that demonstrates you have good judgement when faced with business challenges or tricky work situations," says Kuhl. " Practice explaining this scenario with a mentor, friend, or family member to ensure it translates positively."

6. Be genuine

"Honesty and candor can speak volumes about a candidate's qualities and values. Be yourself because the rest is what is on the resume," says Gould. "There is not a lot of experience to discuss when you are just starting out, so talking about a passion will give the interviewer an idea of who you are."

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