What to say when asked: "Tell me about yourself"?

  1. 0
    Hey all, I know this should be the easiest interview question; but it really isn't. Like all other new grad RNs, I am desperately trying to get a job. I have had one real interview and one over the phone. I think I botched both by my weak answer to "Tell me about yourself". I ramble on saying stuff like "i just graduated....I'm about to take NCLEX....I passed NCLEX....I have a minor in...." Basically just spouting stuff thats on my resume. Ugh! I kick myself. I've been thinking about this non stop and I just can't figure out what to say. Another problem I think I have is rambling/talking too much when asked interview questions. Nerves of course, but still - not good. So What are some suggestions on how to answer the dreaded "Tell me about yourself"? What info do managers want to hear that is concise and sounds appealing to them? I have tried to look up suggestions, but can't find anything concrete. SO I come here and ask what do you all say when asked that question?
    BTW, I grew up as a military brat. Would that be significant info to include to the question? Like I could tailor it to mean that I am open to change and able to adjust well in many circumstances. I have great cultural sensitivity, etc.

    Well thanks for any and all suggestions. Hopefully the next time I get asked that question, I will have an awesome answer.
  2. 16 Comments so far...

  3. 6
    Paint yourself in a positive light: strengths, brief background, and what you can bring to the unit.

    Now is not the time to bring up any habits, addictions, or fetishes.
    Last edit by Poi Dog on Oct 13, '11
    krisiepoo, anotherone, poopprincess, and 3 others like this.
  4. 1
    This is your chance to give punctuation point highlights of your career, schooling or qualifications. If you graduated with honors, you mention it. If you spearheaded some kind of committee that got some major thing passed at some job long ago, you mention it. Leadership positions, volunteer work, whatever makes you shine. Name three or four major things that give an impression of who you are and then wrap it up nice and neat with why you are excited to be a nurse or to be interviewing with them. Make it specific to that company and/or job. It leaves things conversationally open for them to launch the next question.

    What you don't do is tell them how old you are, how many kids/dogs/cats/fish you have, what you like to do in your spare time, share political views. They are trying to establish professional communication with you. It is ok that you are saying a few things that are on your resume - reading it and hearing it are two good ways to make it memorable. Just keep it conversational. Throw in some humor if you are good at that kind of thing.
    noahsmama likes this.
  5. 0
    Do a search on all nurses for the john hopkin's interview guide. Its a great guide and tells you how to answer "tell me about yourself" and some other interview questions. I think a good tip to keep in mind is that managers are looking for a good nurse and a good EMPLOYEE. Tell them things about you based on your education and past work experience (healthcare or not) that shows that you will be a good employee and how you will benefit the floor.
  6. 2
    "I am excited to begin a new career in a fascinating field. I believe that nursing will allow me to grow professionally and personally. "

    Basically, I have a feeling the interviewer wants you to volunteer personal information like number of dependents, married or not, how far you away you live, do you hate the idea of working nights, just got married and wanting to start a family right away----------- I recommend you create a script then stick to it. Only volunteer what you what EVERYONE to know and it does not have to be personal at all.
    Emergent and anotherone like this.
  7. 0
    Thanks all for the info! That definitely helps me think of things. I've got some ideas in my head, I think I will write them down for me to read if/when I get another call. I just got to work on not rambling xD
  8. 13
    Quote from classicdame
    "I am excited to begin a new career in a fascinating field. I believe that nursing will allow me to grow professionally and personally. "

    Basically, I have a feeling the interviewer wants you to volunteer personal information like number of dependents, married or not, how far you away you live, do you hate the idea of working nights, just got married and wanting to start a family right away----------- I recommend you create a script then stick to it. Only volunteer what you what EVERYONE to know and it does not have to be personal at all.
    As someone who has interviewed people for possible hiring, I hate the answer quoted above. I would NOT recommend. It sounds totally "canned," impersonal and does not reveal anything about yourself. The interviewer wants to know about YOU -- not some standard generic drivel that basically doesn't say anything or do anything that helps you stand out in their minds as an individual. And one thing you never want to do in an interview is disappoint and/or frustrate the interviewer. It doesn't help your cause to appear to be dodging the question by giving an answer that sounds like it came out of a book.

    Pick a few things about yourself that you don't mind sharing. They should be a bit personal and unique to you. Remember, they want to connect with you as a person. They want to know who you are, why you are applying for this job, and what you will be bringing into their work environment. So pick a few personal tidbits that you don't mind sharing -- and use that as your opportunity to establish a personal connection. For example, I wouldn't mind sharing that I am single, where in grew up, where I did my education and have gotten experience, what I am looking for in a job, why I am interested in this particular job, etc. Just be sure those things are all positive and do not include any "red flags" for them. If you have recently moved to the community, this is a good opportunity to tell them what brought you to the community -- and give them some reason to believe you plan on staying there a long time. etc.

    In short ... identify a few personal qualities about yourself that make you an attractive job candidate and share them. Use that opportunity to make that personal link with them -- as opposed to the textbook phrases that often sound fake, insincere, or at least impersonal. Sound warm and friendly, like someone they would enjoy getting to know and working with on a personal level. We do that by sharing a few personal tidbits. After sharing a few personal tidbits ... then move the conversation into your skills and strengths -- things that you will bring to the job.

    Remember: Hiring managers rarely hiring resumes. They hire people they want to work with. This is your chance to show them the person that you are. Be personal -- but only show them parts of yourself that they would consider positive.

    Good luck!
    sweetf, not.done.yet, SwansonRN, and 10 others like this.
  9. 0
    I don't agree that sharing any personal information is necessary. if that means i won't be hired, so be it. I give scripted replies, but more along the lines of (example), " I graduated from X university with a bsn in nursing and worked in adult poat surgical floor for x years, i am interested in pursuing a career in OR nursing and my background on a post surgical floor........................................" something like that. I think half the time the interviewers don't really know what to ask and are asking scripted questions themselves.
  10. 4
    I have also been hiring people for many years and I agree with everything llg said. It really is OK to give some brief personal information - but keep it kind of brief. I had one person start with "I was born in 1962 on a farm down on Green St. in Nebraska. My parents names are Joe and Jane. I have 2 brothers, 2 sisters, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a goldfish named Sam. I started kindergarten in ....blah, blah, blah" Ummm...I did not hire this person based on this answer. I also rarely hire the person who wants the job because "Uh - you had an ad on the internet"

    I am interested in how the candidate answers this question but I am just as interested in how the candidate handles the question. The best ones seem to sit up straighter, lean in slightly, smile and act as if they are excited to tell me the best parts of them (without coming across as smug). I want to know maybe why you became a nurse, maybe what brought you to my facility or department for a job, what are your goals that may relate to this department.
    117800, tcvnurse, NellieOlsen, and 1 other like this.
  11. 3
    I'm not saying you have to reveal a bunch of personal stuff -- or that you should reveal anything really private. I'm just saying that it is to the applicant's advantage to appear personable and establish a human connection between themselves and the interviewer. In today's economy, job applicants (particularly those without a lot of nursing experience) need every boost they can get. Use such opportunities to help yourself stand out and make a positive connection.

    I interview approximately 75 nursing students per year for jobs at my hospital. I also interview 5-10 experienced nurses per year for leadership positions. I have a lot more applicants than I have jobs to fill. And I have been filling positions for over 20 years. Anyone who "plays games" with me during the interview, tries to pull the wool over my eyes, gives me "canned" answers from a book that don't really tell me anything about them as a person, or avoids answering the questions I ask ... is not doing themselves any favors.

    I know that sounds arrogant and my sound offensive to some of you. I'm sorry. I don't mean to offend. I'm just telling you all what it looks like from the other side of the interview. Sure, there are some interviewers who don't know what they are doing. But those of us who DO know what we are doing don't like to have our time wasted by people reciting scripts that could be used by anyone. If we are taking the time to ask a question, we want an honest answer that reflects the uniqueness of the person who is saying it. If I want want "stock answers," I'll buy the book.

    If you are not the right person for the job, I'll probably figure it out. So your best bet to get the job is to BE the best person for the job. Figure out what the hiring manager is looking for and BE that person. When there are several people applying for the same position, that's your best bet.
    not.done.yet, 117800, and SwansonRN like this.


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