“Tell Me About Yourself” – The Do’s and Don’ts

Tell Me

As an Executive Recruiter, I interview candidates in Portland, Oregon, the West Coast, and Nationally. I am continually amazed at some of the responses I hear to the question, “Tell Me About Yourself”.  The pivotal moment in an interview often begins with this seemingly simple question.  While it may sound innocuous, this inquiry carries significant weight and is your chance to make a lasting impression. Navigating this question effectively requires a strategic approach. Let’s delve into the do’s and don’ts of crafting a compelling response.


1. Provide a Brief Summary: Start by offering a concise overview of your current position and relevant experience in relation to the role you’re interviewing for. This sets the stage for the conversation and gives the interviewer insight into your professional background.

2. Express Interest in the Position: Clearly articulate what attracted you to the specific role you’re interviewing for. Whether it’s the company culture, growth opportunities, or alignment with your skills and aspirations, conveying genuine enthusiasm demonstrates your commitment and fit for the position.

3. Highlight Your Preferences: Share what you’re looking for in a company and the type of work environment where you thrive. This gives the interviewer insight into your motivations and compatibility with the organization’s values and objectives.

4. Include Relevant Personal Details: If your background, lived experience, or upbringing holds significance to the company or job location, feel free to mention this. However, ensure that any personal stories directly relate to the role or company goals, values, and culture.

5. Emphasize Accomplishments: Discuss notable achievements and milestones throughout your career that demonstrate your qualifications for the role. Focus on tangible results and outcomes that highlight your skills and expertise.

6. Explain Industry Attraction: Offer insights into why you’re drawn to the industry and how your passion and expertise align with its objectives and challenges. This demonstrates your genuine interest and commitment to making a meaningful contribution.

7. Structure your Answer: Some find it helpful to structure their answer starting with the present, what you are doing now, The Past, how you got to where you are now. The future, how the role that you are interviewing for fits into your aspirations for your career.

8. Ask for Feedback:  Practice communicating your story and ask for feedback. In screening and interviewing executive candidates for roles with our clients, I’m always willing to give feedback and workshop ways to highlight the most relevant aspects of your experience when meeting with the hiring manager. Always ask if there is something that they have additional questions about, or any additional context you can provide.


1. Dwell on Irrelevant Details:  Avoid delving into irrelevant aspects of your personal or professional history, especially if they don’t directly relate to the role or company. Stay focused on pertinent information that highlights your suitability for the position.

2. Forget to Tailor Your Response:  Each interview is unique, so tailor your response to align with the specific requirements and culture of the organization. Avoid delivering a generic answer and instead customize your response to resonate with the interviewer and showcase your fit for the role.

Crafting an effective response to “Tell me about yourself” requires a balance of professionalism, relevance, and enthusiasm. By following these do’s and don’ts, you can confidently navigate this critical question and leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. Remember, this is your opportunity to shine and set the stage for a successful interview experience.

Acumen Executive Search provides equitable, customized, and impactful executive search and advisory services that benefit our clients and positively impact the communities in which they operate. With staff across the West Coast, we welcome a conversation to help you navigate executive and managerial transitions.