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Top 5 mistakes to avoid in the Interview question: Tell me about yourself?

Top 5 mistakes for Interview question-Tell me about yourself?

In the last post, we discussed how can you use the easy 3-step formula to answer-Tell me about yourself? which is the most common and very important interview question. Now, we will discuss the top 5 mistakes in this interview question which most candidates make, and how they can be avoided.

Let us dive right in. You can watch the video below or read the article for more detail.

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Mistake 1: Talking about your family and personal life

Tell me about yourself is an open-ended question. A lot of candidates think that the interviewer wants to know all about them and start talking about their family and personal lives. Let us take an example answer below:

My name is John. Football is my favorite sport and I used to play it a lot in my school days. I am a Liverpool fan and have been following them for many years. My father is an engineer and my mother is a housewife. I have a younger brother who is studying.

Now there is a problem here. In fact, a really big one with this above answer.

Most of this information is not relevant to the job. Hence, it is not important for the interviewer to know. All this non-relevant information will in fact overload him/her with unnecessary information.

Recruiters want to quickly understand a candidate’s profile and will appreciate if you can provide a concise answer which explains how are you fit for the job. You should mention about your family or personal life only if the recruiter specifically asks for it.

Mistake 2: Using overboard statements

A few candidates have the habit of using overboard statements like:

‘I am the best salesperson in the company’
‘I can sell anything’

Best‘ can never be defined. If you think you are the best means that you can never get better, and you can never learn more. This is a very dangerous statement to make, as the recruiter will get the impression that you are arrogant and immature.

We all know that nobody is perfect. Even the greatest scientists, the greatest leaders and the greatest CEOs have all made several mistakes in their lives. They have all identified their mistakes and learnt from it. Yes, they were all experts in their fields, but no one was ever the best.

Saying something like ‘I can sell anything’ again makes you sound unreasonable and overconfident. Instead of using these statements, talk about your achievements which are realistic and measurable. Example-

You can say something like: I have achieved the highest sales in the company since the last 2 years and have received an award for the same. This is because I was able to get 2 big clients which gave a total sales of over USD 300,000.

This statement talks about your achievements which are specific and measurable. The interviewers will acknowledge and appreciate it.

Mistake 3: Taking too long to answer the question

Some candidates take too long to answer this question. Since tell me about yourself is such an open-ended question, they think that the more they talk about themselves, the better their chances will be.

Let us first understand that the interviewer does not have the whole day to listen to you. He/she probably has several candidates lined up and waiting outside for the same position. Therefore, your answer should be as concise and relevant as possible. It should be straight to the point!

The rule of thumb is to answer the tell me about yourself question in 1 or 2 minutes maximum. Anything longer than 2 minutes, and you risk losing the interest of the interviewer.

Click here to learn how to best answer this question Tell me about yourself? with the easy 3-step formula in under 2 minutes. You can look at some sample answers for both freshers and experienced candidates.

Mistake 4: Not maintaining proper eye contact

Beginner candidates who are new at interviews often make this mistake. They avoid looking directly at the eyes of the interviewer and instead look here and there while talking. This happens as some people have a fear of speaking to strangers and blanking out during the conversation.

From an interviewer’s perspective, candidates who do not maintain proper eye contact seem to be not serious about the interview. And it also shows a lack of confidence. Hence, this is something that just cannot be overlooked.

What if you have a fear of talking to strangers or you blank out if you look at someone in the eye while speaking?

If that is the case, there is only one solution to it, which is practice and more practice. Start by standing in front of the mirror, and talking to your self. Practice it for a couple of hours.
Once you are comfortable with that, practice with a friend or your spouse. Look at him/her in the eye and do some mock interviews. It will not be long until you are 100% confident and are able to face your interviewer properly and maintain good eye contact.

Mistake 5: Lying to the interviewer

Some candidates lie to the interviewers about their qualifications, their achievements, or even their experience (sometimes by even forging their documents). Some get away with it, but a lot of them get caught. If not during the interview, they get caught later in their careers.

An experienced interviewer will more often than not catch your lies either in the interview itself or during the onboarding process. How? Remember that in most companies, you need to submit all your documents and experience certificates. Often reference checks are done to verify the authenticity of these documents. With linked in and other professional websites available, it is not very difficult to find common links and verify your complete story.

An honest candidate will still have a chance to get selected even if his/her qualifications or experience are not there 100%. Because there are many other things that recruiters consider while hiring the best candidates.

However, if you are caught lying, the company will have no other choice but to terminate you, even if you are a great performer and have been with them for many years. And more often than not, all your colleagues, team members, and even vendors will get to know why you were fired. It becomes a big embarrassment as news like this spreads very quickly in the market. The other problems which may happen are that you may be blacklisted from the company or their entire group, you may not get good reference checks from your manager here and it will be difficult explaining your reason for leaving this job to the next recruiter (without again lying!).

So think again before you plan to lie in your next interview or forge any document. Always look at the bigger picture when it comes to your career.


Tell me about yourself is the most important interview question. Use the easy 3-step formula to best answer this question and also look at some sample answers for both freshers and experienced candidates.

What are the top 5 mistakes that candidates make while answering the common interview question- Tell me about yourself?

Mistake 1: Talking about your family and personal life.
Mistake 2: Using overboard statements like ‘I am the best salesperson in my company’.
Mistake 3: Taking too long to answer the question. The ideal answer should be between 1 to 2 minutes.
Mistake 4: Not maintaining proper eye contact with the interviewer
Mistake 5: Lying to the interviewer

Do you know about any other mistakes that people make while answering this question? Feel free to comment and let us know.

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