“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most common interview questions. Answering open-ended questions like this can be difficult, but don’t let them throw you off. Plan ahead to make the most of an opportunity to share something that’s not in your resume or cover letter. Here are some tips to help you respond.

Get personal

When an interviewer asks, “Tell me about yourself,” it’s an invitation to share a brief story or personal information that helps them get to know you. Avoid summarizing your resume; there will be plenty of time to talk about your work qualifications during the interview.

Instead, talk about personal accomplishments, hobbies or community involvement. This information will give the employer some insight into what’s important to you and what interests you outside of work.

But not too personal

Highlight your personality—not personal—details. Avoid discussing information such as marital status and political or religious affiliations.

Be memorable

You don’t have to have climbed Mount Everest to be memorable. No matter how big or small your accomplishments, they can highlight positive character traits such as persistence or patience. Share stories that illustrate:

  • something unique about yourself
  • your qualifications for the role
  • your interest in the role or company
  • your character or personality

Be authentic

When answering “Tell me about yourself” the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve accomplished.