To ace one of the most feared or misunderstood questions in interviews – Tell Me About Yourself – keep reading…
This common interview question, “tell me about yourself,” isn’t nearly as hard as people think. Preparation and practice are all you need to succeed! Whether you’re interested in SaaS sales, account management, or customer experience (CX) roles, such as customer success manager, let’s develop a plan for how to answer ”tell me about yourself.”
Regardless of what type of customer experience or sales role you apply for, you’ll be asked “tell me about yourself” in nearly every interview. It’s a popular way to get the ball rolling, and if you answer it well, you set the tone for a successful interview.
In this article, we will cover:
- Job responsibilities & traits hiring managers look for in a candidate
- 5 traps to avoid when answering “tell me about yourself”
- Understanding how to answer “tell me about yourself”
- 5 ways to prepare and confidently deliver your answer
- A summary of the 5 steps to nailing this question.
Job responsibilities & traits hiring managers look for can include:
- Build technology packages and create promotions for consumers
- Identify technology solutions that offer clients resolutions
- Answer queries about technology products and services
- Advise customers about hardware and software features
- Track and report sales while monitoring budget goals
- Exhibits dynamism, excitement, and a positive “can-do” attitude.
- Loves to sell services/products, motivated by winning and closing deals
- An articulate, confident, and conscientious communicator with active listening skills
- Superior verbal communication and negotiation skills
- Passion for helping people with an outstanding focus on the customers’ needs – understand human dynamics
- Ability to read people and situations
- Proven successful sales experience – ability to consistently hit your numbers
What to “avoid” when answering “tell me about yourself”
We’ve all been guilty of one or more of these in the past. Let’s recognize them, note them, and move on.
- Without fail, 99% of people will start their answer with “Hi, my name is…” Please don’t. Believe me, they know who you are.
- Don’t restate or recite what’s on your resume. Occasionally, an interviewer who hasn’t read your resume may request you specifically to review your resume. That is a completely different question.
Related: Need help with your resume? Check out this series on resumes for sales and CX roles, including a free guide.
- There’s no need to ask them to clarify the question, “Do you want me to talk about my education, personal life, hobbies, or experience?” No personal information. This is not a date or an invitation to tell your life story.
- Don’t go so high-level that you seem overly modest or vague. This is your opportunity to communicate your strongest qualifications for the position. Now is not the time to shy away from selling yourself! If you can’t sell yourself in the interview, they will question your ability to do the job.
- Don’t talk too much or too little. The rule of thumb is don’t go over 2 minutes but definitely longer than 30 seconds. This is NOT your elevator pitch moment.
Understand how to answer “tell me about yourself”
The ‘how’ is pretty simple – turn your interpersonal and communication skills to eleven! When you nail this question, it allows you to shine by showcasing your all-around customer-facing expertise AND sales acumen by talking about your past experience and highlighting your accomplishments and successes. It’s that simple.
- Hiring managers are looking for candidates to offer insight into their goals, accomplishments, and priorities, giving them a better sense of who they are.
- They are evaluating how confident you are, which can provide a better vision of how you might present yourself to customers, clients, and colleagues should you get the job.
5 ways to answer “tell me about yourself” confidently for sales and CX roles
1. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Answering this is not easy to do gracefully on the fly. It pays to prepare in advance. It may help to write out your response and read it aloud several times before your interview. Have friends and family listen to you or record yourself and play it back. If you cringe, try it again. Caution: the goal is to sound conversational, do not memorize this, per se.
You want to be authentic and well-prepared. Writing it down helps organize your thoughts, but practicing it aloud is vital because you can hear yourself miss the boat and/or knock it out of the park.
2. Align your skills with the job description
Craft your answer by first studying the job description. Highlight technical and soft skills that align with it. Be concise and convey your ability to do the job using specific projects, work experience, accomplishments, and education (Degree, Bootcamp, Workshops, Certifications).
3. Try the ‘stacked blocks’ method of progression
One way to structure how you answer this question is by thinking of your previous roles as building blocks to your current role. In each “block,” highlight expertise in a skill, industry, or niche you learned or experienced.
Did you build a sales team at a startup? How about lead renewals for enterprise clients? Did you pivot from healthcare to fintech? Call out these milestones or specifics as part of your career journey leading to this role.
Spotlight skills or industries they’ve asked for in the job description. Make it easy for them to see what a great catch you are!
4. Identify your main selling points for the role
Whether years of experience or a specific area of specialization, by matching your skills with the qualifications in the job description you’ll show them how you meet and exceed requirements.
5. Make your pitch in your closing
Be sure to include why you’re interested in the sales or customer experience role. Indicate why you are looking for a new challenge and why this is the best next step. Maybe you’re ready to move from being an individual contributor to a team lead. Maybe you’re looking for more autonomy or opportunities to influence the revenue plan.
Focus on how you will provide value by reinforcing how your experience, skills, and drive can help them reach their goals. Finally, feel free to incorporate any relevant hobby or volunteer experience. If they match traits in the job description, such as attention to detail, or collaboration with others, they’re relevant.
Answering “tell me about yourself” for sales and customer-facing roles doesn’t need to be hard! All you need to include is:
Who you are
“I’m a [characteristic description] [title] with [number] years of experience working with [teams, functions, or industries] holding a [education].”
Or something with a bit more oomph –
“I’m a collaborative individual with a strong work ethic who sets foundational goals for myself. Once I reach a benchmark, I raise the bar and continue striving for greater heights.”
“I am someone who understands the value of the client and actively listens to their needs. Understanding client needs is essential to customer satisfaction and performance.”
How you got here
“I’ve contributed to [types or number of projects], managed [types or number of projects], and used my experience to [something from the job description they need you to do]. I’ve used [skills] and achieved [example of success, contribution, or something you learned]. In my previous role, I helped increase [sales and customer service results] allowing for our department to receive [award] of the year ”
Why you’re here
“I’m eager to [what excites you about the role], apply my skills to [tasks, projects, or function], and contribute to [positive outcome or goal of the team, company, etc.].”
Conclusion: How to answer ‘Tell me about yourself’ for sales & customer experience roles
- Focus on the job you are applying to,
- Think about what makes you stand out,
- Include your technical and soft skills that align with the role,
- Mention past accomplishments,
- End strong with how you can provide value to the company.
Whether you’re meeting a recruiter or a panel of interviewers, be sure to ask the scheduler for their names ahead of time, if they’re not provided. Look them up on LinkedIn, and any other social media. You might discover you have mutual connections or other things in common, giving you an opportunity to talk about something other than the weather.
The best advice I can provide as a Career Coach is to prepare and practice! I’ve seen hundreds of people move from having no idea how to answer “tell me about yourself” for sales roles to absolutely killing it! You’ve got this!
Ready to find your next role? Employers are looking for sales and CX professionals now. Complete a free profile and let employers come to you.
Christy Rosen, M.Ed., CPRW, CEIP, is a Certified Career Coach, Resume Writer, and Interview Professional. She has worked with hundreds of professionals helping them to launch, transition, and climb the corporate ladder to meaningful careers in the technology industry.
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This post was originally published on Hired