How to Answer "Tell us About Yourself"

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    "Tell us about yourself" is an interview question you can count on being asked. Sometimes candidates who answer other questions will freeze and fumble at this question. Here's how to answer and tips on what they are looking for.

    How to Answer "Tell us About Yourself"

    Tell Me About Yourself

    Preparing for the "Tell me about yourself" question is critical to the success of your interview. But it's such a broad question that it's hard to know where to start.

    It's important to be focused and purposeful in your response. Everything you choose to say should be planned and have a purpose.

    Answer Purposefully

    It's probably not relevant to landing a nursing position in the ED that Valentine's Day is your favorite holiday, or who your favorite band is.

    So how do you decide what to say? You have your whole lifetime to pick from, so how do you narrow it down?

    Think back to a time when you were on a first date with someone who you knew you wanted a second date with. You shared things about yourself designed to further attract this person, right?


    So you already have experience in selectively choosing what to share about yourself. It's the same in an interview.

    Identify the traits and characteristics they are looking for in a candidate. For example, one thing every employer looks for is trustworthiness. Read the job description, and then read their mission statement to understand the kind of employees they are looking for. Look for keywords.

    You may very well be a perfect fit for the organization and share the same values, but if you don't tell them, they will never know

    Talk in Stories

    Superlative words are soon forgotten, but stories are remembered.

    Rather than saying " I'm a very loyal person", say "Once I commit to something, there's something in me that makes me see it through. Two summers ago, I planned to go on a mission trip to Mexico as a Youth Group Leader. I knew most of the teens in the group and we had been planning this trip all year. They were so excited!

    At the last minute, a close friend of mine invited me to go on a Caribbean cruise with her and her family at the same time. I really wanted to go with them, but there was no way I could back out and let the kids down. I went to Mexico and have no regrets."

    See what you remember from this article a week from now. You may not remember anything else, but you probably will recall the story of the Mission trip to Mexico.

    Present-Past-Future Model

    One way to organize your thoughts is to use the Present-Past-Future model.

    • Present: Tell them where you are now in your job or school situation
    • Past: Tell them about your previous work placement
    • Future: Tell them you hope to be employed by them

    Here's an example of how to answer "Tell me about yourself:"

    "Well, (smiling) currently I'm in my last semester of nursing school. I'm Class Secretary and received the Mary Shell Award for exemplary patient care and academic standing. I'm doing my Senior Practicum in Intensive Care. Before that, and up until last summer, I worked as a waitress.

    For the three years that I waitressed, I had perfect attendance and was often asked to train new waitresses. I made many friends at my job, including repeat customers, and still keep in touch. I tend to get involved in whatever group I'm in. I'm very social and I get my energy from interacting with people.

    Last summer, I interned as a student nurse on Telemetry at Happy Hospital in the same town where I attend university. The nurse manager asked me to stay on after graduation and work as an RN on her floor. She said she really liked the way I interact with patients, even difficult patients. It's probably because I learned a lot from a module I took called "How to handle patient complaints.

    But my family is most important to me, and I miss my cousins. I grew up surfing in the summer, and can't wait to go to the beach again.
    Now that I'm moving back to my home town, I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to work here at Happier Community Hospital, where I can begin my career as an RN and grow."

    Here the applicant started in the present, segued to the past and ended optimistically in the future.

    She/he also communicated (in code) "I am a leader, a people person, a self-starter, savvy (I understand about pt satisfaction), and loyal"...right?

    That's how to answer "Tell us About Yourself", friend! Hope this helps you nail your next interview.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth


    Related Articles:

    How to Prepare for Your Interview
    Uncensored Thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer

    For answers to more of your career questions, be sure to visit the Ask Nurse Beth Advice Column.

    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 3, '15
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Nurse Beth also blogs at http://nursecode.com

    Nurse Beth has '20+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho'. From 'Bakersfield, CA'; Joined Mar '07; Posts: 1,154; Likes: 3,427.

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    10 Comments

  3. by   xxdiscoxxheaven
    Wow! Great article and I will use this at my next interview!
  4. by   ldrnicuguy
    Under no circumstances should you ask the interviewer "well, what do you want to know?" For interviews, if you don't have a longer version of your elevator pitch, GET ONE! This is your opportunity to highlight your accomplishments, motivations, and plans within the context that they benefit you, but mostly how they can benefit the employer. I have interviewed many people and if I can't discern what they will bring to the unit and how they can help us achieve our goals as a group and organization, they will not be hired.
  5. by   WellThatsOod
    Thank you for this! That question has always been one that makes me flounder.
  6. by   Pheebz777
    Another puzzling question almost all employers ask is "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses".

    I have mine memorized.
  7. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from Pheebz777
    Another puzzling question almost all employers ask is "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses".

    I have mine memorized.
    That's great, when you're prepared. Here's another article on "What's Your Greatest Weakness?"
  8. by   lou000
    Hi, i hav e a question. this is actually the first time I use the site si I don't really know how it works....Anyways Im America citenzen and I studied BSN in the Philippines. Now I'm back in Cali and I've been hearing that BON in CA requires for OB 5 actuals, 5 cord care and 5 newborn care and for medsurg they requiere 5 minor and 5 major procedures. The good thing is that i have all the cases complete but I'm still doubting if this is all they are asking for. Please please someone let me know before i submitt my application. Im also using CGFNS to transfer my records. Please i would really appreciate some help here. Thank you!!!
  9. by   pixiestudent2
    So what should a person say, when they don't volunteer, they haven't won any awards, their grades are okay. And have only had one job previously?

    Any suggestions, I am so bad at interviews and talking about myself in general.
  10. by   ldrnicuguy
    Quote from pixiestudent2
    So what should a person say, when they don't volunteer, they haven't won any awards, their grades are okay. And have only had one job previously?

    Any suggestions, I am so bad at interviews and talking about myself in general.
    Are you telling me that you haven't done anything in your life and career that you are proud of? What did you do at that job? Let me give you a hint, the answer is NOT "take care of patients in X unit." How did you make that facility/unit a better place to work and receive care? You didn't have to change any actual policy or practice, but what did you do as an individual do to maximize your role and the service you provide?
  11. by   synaptic
    i just said i was the average joe at my last interview and got the job. but i didn't really need the job that badly and nps are in short supply here so they had to take me anyway. I also said i was boring and like to read books.









    I need to start my own reality tv show, would probably help insomniacs out quite a bit.
  12. by   NickValdemar
    Completing the CEUS for the CNA license at CEUFast.com was not too hard at all. There are about 89 of them and have almost completed all of them and printed out the certificates.They are cracking to see if people are doing them now.

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