"'Tell me about yourself' is a common question employers use to start job interviews," explains career coach Peggy McKee. "Answered well, this is a prime opportunity to impress them, set the tone for the entire interview, and sell yourself for the job. Answered badly and you've wasted the opportunity and possibly even caused them to doubt that you are the person they're looking for."
A bad answer is one that tells your life story or regurgitates your résumé. A good answer, on the other hand, is one that sells you as the right person for the job.
"What this question really means is, 'Tell me something that will matter to me as I consider you for this job,'" McKee says. "Briefly hit the most impressive highlights from your career … promotions, awards, recognitions, or key accomplishments. Remember to keep this interviewer's perspective in mind. What are they likely to be interested in or impressed by? What would be on their list of reasons to hire you? … Your answer doesn't need to be longer than a minute or so. Think of it like an elevator pitch, but a little longer, more in-depth, and completely tailored for this job."