You made it to the interview. Handshakes are completed, and you’ve settled into a chair. The interviewer looks up and says, “Let’s get started! Why don’t you go ahead and tell me a little about yourself.”
“Tell me about yourself.” What a question! Where do you even begin? High school? College? Do you include information about your family, or keep it all career-related? “Tell me about yourself” may be one of the most dreaded interview questions, but don’t fret! The following article will walk you through the best ways to answer this question so that you go into your interview feeling prepared to clearly and easily articulate the most important parts of you.
Tips for Answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question
- Choose where to begin chronologically & provide your education history
- If the school is local to where you grew up, you can mention where you went to high school. Knowing that you’re from the larger community may be a bonus in your favor.
- Mention your college or university and other relevant education experience
- Try to go in chronological order without jumping around too much in your experience or timeline.
- What skills or hobbies do you have to set you apart?
- How do your unique skills or hobbies make you a more successful teacher?
- Do you have any skills or hobbies that will benefit the school? For example, a former high school soccer player may interest a school with a strong soccer program.
- Include highlights of your education experience
- If you’ve already held teaching positions elsewhere, describe your successes in those positions.
- If you’re a first-time teacher, talk about what you’re looking forward to doing or what you enjoyed most about your student-teaching experiences.
- Let your personality shine
- The main point of this question is to glean information about you as a person. The interviewer wants to see how well you respond to a question that commonly flusters interviewees. This question gives the interviewer an opportunity to see what you’ll be like in the classroom and as a colleague.
Answering “Tell Me About Yourself” — Bite-Size
Depending on your feel for the principal/interviewer, you might consider offering a “tweet-sized” answer. What are the most noteworthy things about you — in under 280 characters? This short and concise response gives a solid answer without getting too long-winded.
Use this grab-and-go formula to create your response:
What does this sound like in an interview? Here are a few sample “tweets” using the formula above:
These short responses give your interviewer a quick recap of your professional or educational career and also allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions, if they choose.
Answering “Tell Me About Yourself” — Full-Size
If you feel like a longer response is warranted, here are a couple of sample responses that begin with the quick recap, then go on to include more details.
Sample Response 1:
Hey everyone, I’m Sam. I graduated from Purdue University and have worked in a variety of positions over six years. First, I worked at Morgan Junior/Senior High School for three years. I taught seventh, eighth, and eleventh grade English, as well as reading and publications. I also sponsored the drama club. I was very active in the music and theatre department in high school, so I was excited to put some of that training to use as the drama sponsor.
Next, I moved to Portage Middle School, where I taught for one year in eighth grade and two years in seventh. I also coached volleyball during my time there. I played softball growing up, so I never expected to coach a different sport, but volleyball was actually really fun to learn, and spending time with the kids outside of the classroom was such a valuable experience.
I left Portage because I had my first child, who will now be attending kindergarten. Since he’s going to school, I’ve decided it’s time for me to get back into the classroom as well. I’m really excited to bring my skills and passion for English back into the school system and get to know a whole new batch of kids.
Sample Response 2:
My name is Tom, and I just graduated from LSU. I studied Secondary Science Education, specializing in Chemistry. Chemistry is my preferred branch, but I also enjoy physics and biology.
During my time at LSU, I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Lang. Dr. Lang has been working on a hypothesis that may revolutionize the way we recycle, and I was very lucky to be a part of that research team. I believe the final results will be published in the next few months, and I am still working with her to compose the final article for publication.
For fun, I like to run. I find running very soothing, and it gives me time to listen to different science and teaching-related podcasts. I’ve been training for the past year or so to complete the Boston Marathon. I really want to compete this year.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m ready to make my mark in education as a teacher. I have been so inspired by my former teachers, both in high school and college. It’s my goal to ignite that spark in other young minds, so they can continue to make a difference in the world like other scientists before them.
Remember, this question is here for the interviewer to break the ice and get to know you. Having an idea of what you’ll say is important, but you need to be yourself. Think of the type of person you want to be in the classroom, and let your future teacher-self shine! Need more ideas on how to prepare for your interview? Check out our breakdown of 15 of the most common teacher interview questions.