Pretty much an interview standard, managers rarely miss the opportunity to ask the “Tell me about yourself” question. Typically the first item on the list, this is your chance to sell your overall fit for the job in approximately two minutes’ time.

It’s hard to give a great response to this question off the cuff, so assume it will be asked and prepare accordingly. If you have a well-rehearsed reply ready to go, there’s no need to dread it.

Keep It Professional

When the interviewer asks you to walk them through your background, they mean your professional history. Many candidates miss this cue and ramble on about their childhood, family and hobbies, which completely misses the point.

Be the one who gets the memo by focusing exclusively on work, interjecting a bit of personality along the way. For example, you might say “I’m a detail-oriented call center professional with five years of experience resolving customer service issues for a large financial institution.”

Sell Yourself

The interviewer has read your resume, so there’s no need to repeat it word for word. Instead, choose your top selling points relevant to the job and highlight them. For example, you might say, “I really like the customer interaction offered with a call service job, because I’m a people-person who enjoys helping others. I was promoted at my most recent job, due to my ability to remain calm and polite under trying circumstances.”

Explain Why You’re Interested in the Job

End your response by briefly noting why you’re interested in this opportunity. For example, “I’ve really enjoyed working for my current employer, but there’s no room to grow. When I saw the posting for this position, I was excited by the prospect of a new challenge.”

You’ll dive deeper into your qualifications and enthusiasm for the job in subsequent questions, but this will get you off to a strong start. First impressions mean a lot and you’ll certainly make a great one by providing an outstanding response to the opening question — one that causes many candidates to fall flat.

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