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How to Write About Yourself in a College Essay | Examples

Published on September 21, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on July 22, 2022.

An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability. Your essay shouldn’t just be a resume of your experiences; colleges are looking for a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.

To write about your achievements and qualities without sounding arrogant, use specific stories to illustrate them. You can also write about challenges you’ve faced or mistakes you’ve made to show vulnerability and personal growth.

Table of contents

Start with self-reflection, how to write about challenges and mistakes, how to write about your achievements and qualities, how to write about a cliché experience, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Before you start writing, spend some time reflecting to identify your values and qualities. You should do a comprehensive brainstorming session, but here are a few questions to get you started:

As you self-reflect, consider how your values and goals reflect your prospective university’s program and culture, and brainstorm stories that demonstrate the fit between the two.

Writing about difficult experiences can be an effective way to show authenticity and create an emotional connection to the reader, but choose carefully which details to share, and aim to demonstrate how the experience helped you learn and grow.

Be vulnerable

It’s not necessary to have a tragic story or a huge confession. But you should openly share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to evoke an emotional response from the reader. Even a cliché or mundane topic can be made interesting with honest reflection. This honesty is a preface to self-reflection and insight in the essay’s conclusion.

Don’t overshare

With difficult topics, you shouldn’t focus too much on negative aspects. Instead, use your challenging circumstances as a brief introduction to how you responded positively.

Share what you have learned

It’s okay to include your failure or mistakes in your essay if you include a lesson learned. After telling a descriptive, honest story, you should explain what you learned and how you applied it to your life.

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While it’s good to sell your strengths, you also don’t want to come across as arrogant. Instead of just stating your extracurricular activities, achievements, or personal qualities, aim to discreetly incorporate them into your story.

Brag indirectly

Mention your extracurricular activities or awards in passing, not outright, to avoid sounding like you’re bragging from a resume.

Use stories to prove your qualities

Even if you don’t have any impressive academic achievements or extracurriculars, you can still demonstrate your academic or personal character. But you should use personal examples to provide proof. In other words, show evidence of your character instead of just telling.

Many high school students write about common topics such as sports, volunteer work, or their family. Your essay topic doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but do try to include unexpected personal details and your authentic voice to make your essay stand out .

To find an original angle, try these techniques:

Your unique voice can shed new perspective on a common human experience while also revealing your personality. When read out loud, the essay should sound like you are talking.

First, spend time reflecting on your core values and character . You can start with these questions:

However, you should do a comprehensive brainstorming session to fully understand your values. Also consider how your values and goals match your prospective university’s program and culture. Then, brainstorm stories that illustrate the fit between the two.

When writing about yourself , including difficult experiences or failures can be a great way to show vulnerability and authenticity, but be careful not to overshare, and focus on showing how you matured from the experience.

Through specific stories, you can weave your achievements and qualities into your essay so that it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging from a resume.

Include specific, personal details and use your authentic voice to shed a new perspective on a common human experience.

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Kirsten Courault

Kirsten Courault

Other students also liked, style and tone tips for your college essay | examples, what do colleges look for in an essay | examples & tips, how to make your college essay stand out | tips & examples.

9 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself

You know yourself better than anyone else, but writing about yourself can still be tough! When applying for scholarships or to college, essay prompts  can feel so general (and yet so specific!) that they leave us stumped.  So we’ll show you 8 tips to write an essay about yourself, so that you can land more scholarships. (Psst – Going Merry makes applying easy .)

1. Create a List of Questions

2. brainstorm and outline, 3. be vulnerable, 4. use personal examples, 5. write in the first person, 6. don’t be afraid to show off…but stay on topic, 7. show personality , 8. know your audience, 9. proofread and edit.

Let’s start with some examples of personal essay prompts:

These are just a few of many scholarship essay prompts that require you to look internally, to answer a question, solve a problem, or explain a scenario in your life.  

We get it. You might not be a big fan of bragging about yourself, or you might want to keep your personal stories to yourself. But by opening up and sharing your story, you can show scholarship providers, colleges and universities who you are, and why you’re deserving of their scholarship.

(Don’t just take our word for it – check out our scholarship winners page full of students like you who were brave enough to share their stories with us).

how to write an essay about yourself

To get started, check out these 9 tips on how to write an essay about yourself:

After reading through the scholarship essay prompt, breathe, and make a list of smaller questions you can answer, which relate to the big essay prompt question. 

Let’s say the main essay prompt question asks you, “What were challenges or barriers you had to work to overcome?” Then the smaller questions might be something like:

Think of these questions as mini-prompts. They explain your story and help you answer the main essay prompt with more details than if you just answered it without a plan in place.

After considering smaller questions, it’s time to brainstorm your answers.  Take out a pen and paper – or open up a document on a computer – and take your time in answering each mini-prompt. Organize your responses in order:

This organization will help you stay on topic and answer the prompt directly. (Or check out these 6 scholarship essay examples for alternative essay structures.)

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Don’t be afraid to let your strengths, challenges, and personal stories shine through in your essay! Scholarship and admissions committees love to see that you’re self-aware how you can improve as a person, or how you’ve grown because of your experiences. Honest writing can help tell the best stories (in this case, YOUR story).

how to write an essay about yourself

Since this essay is all about you , you should make your answer as specific as possible! Avoid using generalizations (e.g., “I’m really good at music). Instead, go for more personalized statements (e.g., “My fourth-grade teacher Ms. Matay really inspired me to pursue my interest in the clarinet”). Your personal examples are what will help your scholarship essay stand out among the thousands of applicants..

 You’re telling your story, so write from your perspective! You can narrate your story. You can provide an overview of what you learned from your experiences. However you choose to answer the prompt, we recommend writing in an active tone, and using “I” and “me” throughout your essay.

Most students worry about bragging in their essay, but we say go for it! This is your time to shine, so highlight your accomplishments and strengths.  Review your essay to make sure that you’re keeping the tone informative and that you’re still on topic. (Brag while answering the essay prompt; don’t just mention random, unrelated but impressive facts about yourself!)You can use this brag sheet where you can brainstorm your accomplishments. While the worksheet is geared toward requesting letters of recommendation , you can still use it to write out your hobbies, interests, college list , and strengths to help you answer your scholarship essay prompt.

how to write an essay about yourself

Just because it’s an essay doesn’t mean it has to be dry and boring. This essay is all about you, so let your personality shine through. If you’re the class clown, you can use a bit of humor. If you wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t be afraid to show emotion. Trying your best to express who you are as a person will have a huge effect on the admissions or scholarship committee!

If you’re applying for a scholarship, research the scholarship provider. If you’re applying to college, research the school. Understanding what makes the provider/college unique and what their motivations are, will allow you to incorporate that information in your essay. For example, many scholarships are funded by private companies that sell products. You might want to reference those products in your essay. A good example of this is Emily Trader’s essay for the Life Happens organization , where she uses her personal narrative to explain the importance of insurance planning, since that is the mission of the organization (which is funded by insurance companies).

The last step in answering your essay prompt is to double-check your work! One typo can be distracting and cause scholarship providers to scratch their head while reading the essay. ( Psst, humble brag: Going Merry’s application platform includes spellcheck because we’ve got your back .) In addition to proofreading for typos and grammatical errors, also consider whether the sentence or paragraph structure makes sense. Are you breaking paragraphs in the right place? Are you using topic sentences well to signpost your main ideas? Does the essay flow? Consider these “bigger” structural questions too.  You might also want to ask a friend, family member, teacher, or guidance counselor to review your essay. They might catch something you didn’t see the first time around, and that can really help your essay! In fact, that is scholarship winner Daniel Gill ’s #1 tip. (Another tip is to apply for scholarships using Going Merry !)

how to write an essay about yourself

Also, check out this helpful list of the 10 most common scholarship essay topics while you’re brainstorming!

Top 10 Most Common Scholarship Essay Prompts Graphic

Now that you know how to write an essay about yourself, it’s time to start applying for scholarships! Remember: You’ve got this. 

Sign up for your free Going Merry profile . From there, you can easily upload and submit your essay for thousands of scholarships. We make it easy so you’ll only need to enter your profile information once! And then, you can apply away. In fact, we even have some bundled scholarships so that you only enter your essay once, to apply for multiple scholarships at the same time.

Or if you’re not ready to register, simply sign up to receive an email with 20 new scholarship opportunities each week. Just enter your email address below:

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essay about yourself questions

36 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing Your Personal Statement

April 25, 2017

essay about yourself questions

Phase I of Writing Your Personal Statement: 36 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin

In less than 650 words, you have to persuade a stranger to care about you and your application. That’s why the Common App personal statement is one of the most discussed aspects of the college application. Think about how much time you spend on homework, standardized testing, and extracurriculars. This single essay will influence admissions officers as much as these other factors. You could be the perfect applicant, but if your reader doesn’t get to know you and CARE about YOU, you won’t be admitted.

There is no formula for creating the perfect personal statement. The best personal statement topic for your friend might not work well as a topic for you. The topic that might inspire your friend to show his most unique thoughts, the challenges he’s overcome, and the maturity he has gained, might not help you reveal what’s most interesting and compelling about you.

So, how can you write the best possible personal statement for you and your application? Here are the first steps in the process.

1. Start early!

The worst thing you can do is rush the creation of your personal statement. The next two steps below might take weeks...and these occur before you even have a good first draft and can start multiple rounds of edits. You should edit your personal statement multiple times. You should get feedback from as many family members, friends, and teachers as you can.

But, before you get to this stage, you need to choose the perfect topic (and the best Common App essay prompt )  for you .

So, when is the right time to start the process of writing your personal statement ? You should start brainstorming for your personal statement as early as the spring of your junior year and as late as the summer between junior and senior year.

Why shouldn’t I start earlier? A successful personal statement relies on having a strong and mature sense of yourself. It can also rely on your understanding of what you’d like to do in college, what type of college community you’d like to be a part of, and why you care about your education. Starting too soon might mean you need to start over (see step 3) after you really do some soul-searching about college.

There is a lot of thinking and planning that happens before you start writing, so that’s why you should start early. You will complete your best work when you’re not up against a deadline and you’ll be able to start over (again, see step 3) if this is in your best interests.

2. Brainstorm

If you complete this stage of the process with care and attention, you won’t be faced with Step 3. This step in the process helps you pinpoint that perfect topic for you... which won’t be the same perfect topic for someone else.

To start the process of writing your personal statement , ask yourself the series of 36 questions below. These will help generate topics that will be important and meaningful to you. Keep a written list of possible topics you could choose.



Once you’ve created your list of topics, you’ll need to start narrowing them down. For each topic, ask yourself:

If the answer to most or all these questions is “yes!” you’ve probably landed on an ideal topic for you! And get started with writing your personal statement ! 

I talk more about choosing your personal statement topic, as well as some of the best topics and worst topics here:

3. Start over?

Have you already written your 650 words? Ask yourself: is this best possible story I could tell about myself to admissions officers? What does this story show about me? Is there anything that’s negative in this essay? Is there anything that would make me appear privileged, immature, irresponsible, unfriendly, boring, or unmotivated?

One of the best skills you can develop while writing your personal statement is not to be too attached to your writing. Good editors make BIG changes. And sometimes “big change” means starting over from scratch.

I’ll share my story as a cautionary tale. After careful planning, I wrote the first draft of my personal statement during the summer before my senior year of high school. I was really proud of it. I’d developed a (I thought) complicated and literary metaphor throughout the personal statement. I printed it off. I gave it to my dad to read. He read it through once and said, “you should start over from scratch.”

I was shocked and horrified. What about the more than 5 hours I’d spent planning and writing this essay? My dad pointed out to me the ways in which my personal statement didn’t show the most impressive things about me. It was fine. But it wasn’t unique. It wasn’t personal.

Writing your personal statement is a very strategic part of your college application. There are many "bad" topics you should avoid , there are many “good” topics you could choose, but there are a few that are “outstanding” because they bring a new, personal, thoughtful, and insightful angle to your application and your personal story. This is the personal statement you want to write! Your personal statement needs to engage your readers in less than 650 words in a way that convinces them to believe in you. Your admissions officer will need to advocate for you in order for you to be admitted. You want this person on your side.

Ask your family, friends, and teachers to read your personal statement or consider the topic you’ve selected. Do they feel like this piece of writing or this topic shows the person they know and love? Could this topic make a stranger care about you in the way that your family, friends, teachers care about and support you? This is your personal statement topic selection goal!

Tags : writing your personal statement , college application , applying to college , college application essay , common app personal statement , Personal Statement , common app , common app essay prompts , personal statement for college

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Personal Essay Examples About Yourself

There are times where you want to prove yourself and write an essay about yourself. Well, we’ve got you covered! Check out the already written essays below and use them as a guide to writing your own!

Essay About Myself Helps You To Establish Your Personality And Connect With An Audience

Describing yourself could be a challenging task, but when it comes to an assignment, you can’t skip it. So, are currently dealing with an essay that requires you to describe yourself? Are you finding it challenging to do so? If so, we are here to help. We understand how normal it is to go blank when asked about describing oneself. And, if you’re a student, the pressure to do so could be immense. It is because you know the reader would be marking your write-up rather than reading it for fun. The pressure to write better and follow the right structure can be overwhelming. It can end up making you freeze or feel you’re not good enough. However, the reality is otherwise. Here are a few things you can do to avoid being in that situation:

Following these simple steps will ensure you create an essay that leaves an impression.

Besides, if you’re confused about what to include in your personal essay, here are a few suggestions:

Short Essay Sample About Yourself

Still confused? Here is a short sample essay to help you grab the idea if you’ve been asked to describe yourself in an essay:

personal essay about yourself (short example)

Describing myself is one of the toughest tasks to do, but it’s fascinating too, to put it to words. I believe our traits – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are to the world. When it comes to my personality, people can have different opinions because they see what they want to see in me, and that’s okay. So, I would describe myself from the paradigm I see myself from in different aspects.

Related: Where Can I Buy University Essays From

As a person, I believe life is an art, and I am the artist of my life. I try to keep it full of colors and as cheerful as possible no matter what life throws at me. I am an enthusiast and a person full of curiosity. Curious to know what life is all about and what it holds in the future.

I like to keep a smile on my face no matter what I am going through, and that smile keeps me going. Besides, I was brought up in a multicultural community. Therefore, I am an extrovert, and I like to meet people, I love to experience their lives, cultures, and traditions, which makes me happy and cheerful.

Moreover, I am reliable but very short-tempered. I lose my calm if not understood properly. I get very irritated internally, but that doesn’t show in my behavior. However, I would like to change this character trait a little because my friends and dear ones often do not notice that I have some troubles. Thus, they do not offer help when I need it.

Good or bad, This is me, trying to contemplate the world as it is, revealing its true colors. I believe life is a gift, and it should be treated like one, with love, care, and respect.

Long Essay Example on “Describe Yourself “

Below is one more example to help you understand the idea of personal essays better.

describe yourself essay example

Related: What Is The Best Website To Buy Essays

“Tell something about yourself?” It could be one of the toughest questions when asked impulsively. However, people who like sharing their achievements and personal life with others may find it another opportunity to reveal their unique traits. But with me, the case is quite the opposite. Talking about myself has never been my thing. Yet, I would still try to describe myself in the best way I can. I would like to start with my background and then move to how I am as a student and then how I am inside and how the world sees me.

The first thing that I would like to write to introduce myself is that I am nothing but just a unique kind of ‘substance’ made up of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, trying to leave a positive mark in the world. In the effort to do so, I have been continuously changing qualitatively. Being an only child raised by a single mother, I have had quite a rough childhood. Giving up on my aspirations and wishes was a normal part of my life. Living with limited luxuries and growing up without a father and siblings has a massive role in my personality today. I know how it is like not to have someone to hear you out when you come back home after a terrible day at school. Hence, I always try to be an ear to my friends and make them feel better.

However, I never let my financial constraints and not-so-easy family life get in the way of my academic goals. On the contrary, I have always been keen to learn new things and achieve good grades. As a result, I successfully managed to land in my dream college, that too on scholarship. Getting into college on scholarship was one of my biggest dreams as well as a major goal. Besides, it gave me a chance to make my mother proud of me. Making her a proud mother has always been my dream, and I can’t be happier to achieve some aspect of that dream.

Lastly, I would like to tell you that I may seem like a bright student who is confident and arrogant. But, in actuality, it is the opposite. I am a person that has to deal with social anxiety every day, which means I have to struggle a lot to make new friends, attend social events, and give presentations. I never tend to initiate a conversation or say enough to keep the conversation going with many people I don’t know. This may give them the impression that I am an arrogant teen. But, from the inside, I am as humble as a dove. I can never say no to anyone, and I can never ignore someone who needs help. I am as fragile as glass. My confidence level can go to zero on one uncomfortable remark.

All in all, this is precisely who I am as a person. And, I believe my experiences and relationships with others have a great role in making me what I am today. After all, humans are social animals. So, no matter how introverted or timid I am, I still need real connections that help me experience life at its best.

About Yourself Scholarship Essay Examples (2023)

Jennifer Finetti Sep 28, 2022

About Yourself Scholarship Essay Examples (2023)

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A popular scholarship essay prompt is “Tell us about yourself.” This question is relatively open-ended, which may make it difficult to answer at first glance. What should I tell them about myself? My struggles, my goals, my passions…? These may all be fitting topics, depending on the scholarship. We’ll show you some scholarship essay examples about yourself, along with writing tips to guide you along the way.

What they want to know about you

As you prepare to write, think of the topics the scholarship committee would be interested in. These may include:

Show off your skillset

Note that you do not have to throw all this information into one essay. Choose the elements that best fit the scholarship. If you were on the review board, what would you want to learn about each applicant? What would make you choose one applicant over another? Keep this in mind as you develop your thoughts.

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What they don’t want to know about you

There is plenty of information you could include in an about yourself scholarship essay. There is just as much information to avoid though. Some topics to keep out of your essay include:

Read through your essay carefully. If you stop at one point to say, “Why did I mention that?” get rid of the corresponding information. Showcase the best elements about yourself in a fluid and cohesive manner.

Short scholarship essay example: Tell us about yourself (100 Words)

With 100 words, you can only focus on one or two elements of your life. Think about your biggest selling points – the things that show you are the ideal candidate. Start by introducing yourself and your educational status. Then jump into the main topic of the essay. You may not have room to mention how the scholarship will help your education. Instead, mention how your education can help your career. The other information will be implied.

My name is Christian Wood. I am a high school senior who will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall. I want to become an online journalist. My goal is to work for the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, or another news outlet that has a strong online presence. Most people already get their news on the internet, and the industry will be even bigger by the time I graduate. Getting a degree in journalism with a focus on digital media will set me up for a fulfilling, fast-paced career fit for the future.

Word Count: 96

Medium scholarship essay example: Tell us about yourself (250 Words)

With a mid-length scholarship essay, you have more space to explain how your past has influenced your present and future goals. You should have rom for an intro paragraph, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion (maybe incorporated into the last body paragraph). Think of a few main points you want to touch on, and write those down first. If you still have room, you can add more details about yourself.

My name is Sarah, and I spent most of my childhood on the wrong medication. I experienced a problem common in clinical psychology – misdiagnosis. Professionals provide inaccurate diagnoses for many reasons – f rom antiquated testing methods to limited education. I want to open my own psychological testing facility and help change that. Therefore, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology.  I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child because I had trouble focusing in school. The medication m y doctor prescribed to me only made me numb to the world around me. I couldn’t think or process emotions, or had no emotions at all. After several years my parents finally decided to get a second opinion. I saw a specialist and she concluded that I didn’t have ADHD , but a combination of dyslexia and dysgraphia (difficulties with reading and writing). She sent us to a therapist who helped me learn how to work around my conditions, and my life improved tremendously. I went from being a lifeless student with barely passing grades to an honor roll student full of joy and excitement. Unfortunately, my story is not one of a kind. There are countless children in America who are put on mind-altering medications that do not adequately address their needs. I cannot help all of those children, but I can provide a better alternative for the ones in my area. Through proper education, funded by financial aid, I can learn about psychological evaluations and provide the most accurate diagnoses possible.

Word Count: 249

Long scholarship essay example: Tell us about yourself (500 Words)

Scholarship essays that are 500 words or longer let you tell the whole story. You can discuss your past, present and future in a comprehensive manner. Avoid rambling and make sure each topic contributes to the overall essay. If one piece feels out of place, remove it and elaborate more on the existing elements. By the end of the essay, the reader should have a full understanding of who you are and what you want to accomplish.

My name is Sierra Breault, and I am a junior at Murray State University. I am double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Forensics Science, and I will graduate in 2024 with two bachelor degrees. My career goal is in social justice, so I can contribute to criminal justice reform. I want to ensure that those who commit crimes are treated fairly.  I come from a small town where excessive force and even death by cop incidents are often committed, especially against minorities. A few years ago, one of my relatives was charged for a crime although the crime scene evidence wasn’t properly obtained, catalogued and analyzed.  This experience played a big part in my wish to study criminal justice. I started exploring the career more when I decided that a desk job just wasn’t for me. Throughout high school I struggled because of the routine nature of it all. I saw the same people and attended the same classes every single day. I knew I didn’t want a job that would be that stagnant. That’s when I got the idea to work in law enforcement, because there would always be a new challenge for me to tackle. After researching the field even more, I set my sights on crime scene investigation. I have performed much better academically in college than I ever did in high school. That’s because there is no routine to the experience. Every week, I have new projects to complete, tests to study for, and activities to try. I have been involved with the campus Crime Stoppers organization all three years of college, and I was elected president for the upcoming term. This lets me work closely with law enforcement to supplement my college education and further my career.   After graduating, I will apply for work as a dispatcher in a state organization, such as the Department of Criminal Investigation. While my ultimate goal is to work as a forensic analyst or crime scene investigator, those positions usually only go to people within the organization. Dispatch is the most direct option for career entry, giving me the best chance to pursue my dream career. I am applying for this scholarship to help me finish the last two years of my degrees. As a college junior and soon-to-be senior, my scholarship opportunities are limited. Most awards are reserved for freshmen. I took advantage of those early on, and I have one recurring scholarship that covers half of my tuition. However, I need additional financial aid to cover the remainder of my academic costs. I appreciate your consideration, and I hope that you can help me pursue a profession in criminal justice. This is my passion, and I have a clear plan to turn that passion into a lifelong career.

Word Count: 463


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Jennifer Finetti

Jennifer Finetti

As a parent who recently helped her own kids embark on their college journeys, Jennifer approaches the transition from high school to college from a unique perspective. She truly enjoys engaging with students – helping them to build the confidence, knowledge, and insight needed to pursue their educational and career goals, while also empowering them with the strategies and skills needed to access scholarships and financial aid that can help limit college costs. She understands the importance of ensuring access to the edtech tools and resources that can make this process easier and more equitable - this drive to support underserved populations is what drew her to ScholarshipOwl. Jennifer has coached students from around the world, as well as in-person with local students in her own community. Her areas of focus include career exploration, major selection, college search and selection, college application assistance, financial aid and scholarship consultation, essay review and feedback, and more. She works with students who are at the top of their class, as well as those who are struggling. She firmly believes that all students, regardless of their circumstances, can succeed if they stay focused and work hard in school. Jennifer earned her MA in Counseling Psychology from National University, and her BA in Psychology from University of California, Santa Cruz.

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How To Answer Tell Me About Yourself (13 Sample Answers Included)

Mike Simpson 0 Comments

essay about yourself questions

By Mike Simpson

Updated 6/12/2022.

essay about yourself questions

Few interview questions are as deceptively simple as “Tell me about yourself.” After all, you know all about you, right? So, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

While it seems like an open invitation to talk about nearly any aspect of your life, that isn’t what’s happening here. That’s what makes figuring out how to answer “tell me about yourself” so tricky. If you don’t share the right kind of information, your response will miss the mark.

But how do you get it right? By checking out a few tips and tell me about yourself sample answers that you can use as a starting point. Let’s get started.

Why Do Hiring Managers Ask This Question?

So, why do hiring managers ask this question? Do they really want to get to know you better, or do they have another motive?

Well, it’s actually a bit of both. First, they want to see how you react to a question asked casually and without structure. Can you offer up a well-structured, informative response that gives them an idea of who you are as a professional? Or do you ramble about personal details that aren’t relevant to the role?

Second, they want to get a feel for what you deem to be “important.” The aspects of your career that you highlight give them a surprising number of clues about your preferences, priorities, and values, making it easier for them to assess your mentality and determine if you fit in with the company culture.

Overall, hiring managers and recruiters may start making hiring decisions in as little as 90 seconds after meeting you. Since that’s the case, you need to take it seriously when a hiring manager asks you, “Tell me a little about yourself,” as that’s normally one of the first questions you’ll face. Additionally, you want to use a great strategy to create your answers. More about that in a moment.

How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself

Alright, now that you know why this question is asked, it’s time to dive into how to answer “tell me about yourself.” Here’s a quick step-by-step process you can use to craft an outstanding response.

Use the Tailoring Method

First things first, you want to use the Tailoring Method to build your answer. That ensures your response is as relevant to the hiring manager as possible, allowing you to speak to their needs and preferences while you share details about your professional history.

Generally, you can find out a lot about what the hiring manager wants to know with a bit of research. Review the job description to find out more about the skills and traits their after, as well as the duties you might encounter. Then, review information about the company, including its mission, values, and products or services. That way, you can talk about points that will pique the hiring manager’s interest right at the beginning of the meeting.

Use a Chronological Approach

Overall, this is an interview question where your answer should feel like a story. Using a chronological, narrative-style approach lets you show the hiring manager how you’ve grown in your career, highlighting the occasional relevant achievement along the way. It keeps your answer compelling, all while making the details easier to follow.

Avoid These Mistakes

Along with crafting a great answer, you need to make sure you avoid certain missteps. Here are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid along the way.

1) Regurgitating Your Cover Letter and Resume

The “Tell us about yourself” question isn’t an invitation for you to simply list off the same accomplishments you put on your resume. Yes, it’s important for you to highlight moments in your past when you were successful, but the real power lies in bringing more to the table, providing the hiring manager with relevant details that didn’t fit on your application.

2) Telling Your Life Story

This is probably the most common mistake that people make. Why? Because it’s the easiest way to answer this question.

Don’t start talking about where you were born or what you did as a child. Unless an experience relates to your career, it doesn’t typically belong here.

3) “Well, What Do You Want to Know?”

An answer like this tells an interviewer that you’re unprepared. Plus, it comes off as a bit combative. In either case, it’s a bad first impression and could cost you the job.

4) The 10-Minute Monologue

Don’t go off on a ten-minute monologue all about you when you’re asked, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Instead, keep it short.

For most interview questions , responses between 30 seconds to four minutes are ideal. With this one, something in the 60 to 90-second range is likely best. There are going to be a lot more questions coming down the pipe that will allow you to elaborate on your various experiences, skills, and accomplishments. Don’t feel like you have to answer all of them at once.

Just remember, this is just one question the hiring manager could ask you in your interview! That’s why we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview.

Click below to get your free PDF now:

Get Our Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet!

FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you " word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview .


Top 13 Tell Me About Yourself Answers

Okay, it’s almost time to dig into the tell me about yourself examples. But before we hop in, there’s something else we need to mention.

When you’re looking at a tell me about yourself sample answer in the list, understand it’s only supposed to be inspiration. Along with showing you what an outstanding answer looks like, it can help you come up with ideas for your own responses.

However, the tell me about yourself answers below are only starting points. You shouldn’t use them as written. Instead, you need to take advantage of the Tailoring Method , too.

With the Tailoring Method, you customize your answer to meet the hiring manager’s needs. That way, your response is as relevant as possible, increasing the odds that you’ll impress.

Since the answers below aren’t tailored to the job you’re after, they shouldn’t be used without some tweaks, at a minimum. Otherwise, just treat them as inspiration, ensuring you’ll know when your own answer is where it needs to be.

So, now that we’ve covered that, here are some tell me about yourself examples, representing a range of experience levels, industries, and roles.

Example 1 – Entry-Level Retail

I’m an enthusiastic, dependable, upbeat high school graduate hoping to take my customer service skills to the next level. I believe that retail is the perfect option for doing that, allowing me to engage with a range of customers and face challenges that will only help me improve.
While I lack prior retail experience, I have volunteered for projects that are highly similar. For instance, I oversaw a quarterly bake sale at my school, allowing me to get cash handling and customer service experience.
This role specifically taught me interest because I’m looking for a fast-paced environment where I can learn and grow. I am not just diligent but highly ambitious and willing to learn, which will let me provide real value to my first retail employer.

Example 2 – Entry-Level Tech

I’m a tech-savvy high school graduate looking to take my first steps into a technology career. Along with being highly familiar with productivity suites – such as Microsoft Office – thanks to my schooling, I’m also incredibly comfortable with Android smartphones and tablets. Additionally, often assist family members with their devices, providing support to individuals of all ages and with varying degrees of technical knowledge.
Since I’m highly passionate about the field, I believe this customer support role is a great fit. It’ll allow me to put my current skills to work, as well as develop new ones that will lead to a strong career.

Example 3 – Entry-Level Trades

I’ve had a passion for cars for as long as I can remember. While I initially explored my interest as many children do – collecting Hot Wheels cars – my continuing interest encouraged me to dig deeper. I began by assisting my father and grandfather with routine maintenance, getting a general overview of common processes. Then, I signed up for autobody in high school, giving me my first real taste for the work involved.
After high school, I transitioned to a trade school, broadening my skills to include a variety of repairs and maintenance activities. Today, I’m looking for an opportunity to put those capabilities to work, as well as continue to grow in my new field.

Example 4 – Recent Social Work College Grad

When I started high school, I already knew that I wanted a career where I could make a real difference in people’s lives. I began volunteering, spending time supporting a range of organizations. However, the experience that fundamentally changed my life was volunteering for an agency that provided support to the elderly.
Many older adults in our communities require far more support than they usually receive. Whether it’s rides to medical appointments, helping getting groceries, or having someone come and cut their grass, it made a dramatic difference in their lives.
After that experience, I decided that social work was my calling, particularly in the area of services for the elderly. I graduated at the top of my class and, during my studies, had an opportunity to intern at a local community support agency. I feel that my education and experience have prepared me well for the career that lies ahead and I look forward to doing my part to support those in my community who need it most.

Example 5 – Recent Engineering College Grad

Nothing quite captures my imagination and sparks my passion like bridges. I’ve long been a fan of these massive feats of engineering, so much so that I often went out of my way to explore as many as possible once I was able to drive.
During high school, I also joined a Rube Goldberg club. It allowed me to explore structures in creative ways, further increasing my interest in the field of engineering.
After my high school graduation, I headed to XYZ University to pursue a degree in structural engineering, ultimately graduating in the top five percent of my class. While studying, I had the opportunity to complete an internship with ABC Co., a leading engineering firm in the area.
Overall, my drive to create amazing structures has only strengthened as I acquired the skills and knowledge required to work in the field. Ultimately, I feel that my passion and capabilities combined make me an asset, and I look forward to securing a position that will help me get my career off of the ground.

Example 6 – Recent Physical Therapy College Grad

During high school, I was unfortunate enough to experience a serious knee injury while participating in after-school sports. While the injury was a challenge, one good thing did come of it; my passion for helping others heal.
As part of my recovery, I spent time with a kind, compassionate, and capable physical therapist. Their poise, knowledge, and ability to motivate me made my recovery far simpler than it would have otherwise been, and that experience made me realize that I want to do the same for others.
I ultimately headed to XYZ College to earn my Bachelor’s before heading to ABC University to complete my physical therapy education. Now that I’m licensed, I’m ready to take the next step and find a position where I can assist others as they walk down the road toward recovery.

Example 7 – Mid-Level Human Resources Pro

As the saying goes, people are a company’s greatest asset. Since that’s the case, I wanted to build a career that allowed me to help organizations manage their workforces more effectively.
I began by completing a Bachelor’s degree, giving me a strong initial foundation. After that, I landed a role as a recruiter, allowing me to dig deeper into hiring processes and providing me with crucial skills that help me spot genuine talent.
After a time, I added benefits administration to my plate. Additionally, I acquired my PHR certification as well as returned to school to secure my Master’s degree. Once that’s complete, I plan on securing my SPHR certification, as well.
Ultimately, my current goal is to find a company where I can provide value today and into the future, particularly as I expand my skills.

Example 8 – Mid-Level Accounting Pro

I grew up as one of those children where numbers simply made sense. As a result, I was fascinated by every mathematics subject as I progressed through my education and quickly decided that a math-oriented field would ultimately be the best fit.
During my studies, I interned with an area company, providing assistance to its accountants. This helped me acquire foundational skills, particularly when it came to reporting. After earning an accounting degree, I began working for a local firm, expanding my involvement to records management for my own set of clients.
Over time, my responsibilities expanded. Along with supporting 40 clients, I began attending strategy meetings, assisting with the development of new processes designed to increase accuracy and boost efficiency.
Today, I’m looking to continue on that growth path, acquiring new skills and expanding my responsibilities. My goal is to work in a management position, so I’m seeking out opportunities that allow me to contribute while also giving me the opportunity to take on projects that’ll send me in that direction.

Example 9 – Entry-Level Marketing Manager

Initially, I entered the world of marketing because of the amount of creativity involved in the field. I had a knack for innovation, coming up with unique ways to position companies to secure more market share. On average, I achieved growth rates of 18 percent, as well as improved customer retention by 200 percent.
However, as my career progressed, I learned that other skills were equally important. Research, organization, and collaboration are all essential, and I found I pulled on those more and more as time passed.
With each successful campaign, my leadership skills were increasingly helpful. I’ve had the opportunity to oversee small teams, ensuring that everyone collaborated effectively to achieve great results. Now, I feel I’m ready for the next step. That’s why I’m currently pursuing a management position.

Example 10 – Entry Level Sales Manager

I’m the kind of person who wants to help others make their lives easier to manage. As a result, I enthusiastically share details when I think a product or service is poised to do just that. Since that’s the case, sales was a natural fit.
However, during my six years in the field, I also discovered that I’m highly adept at motivating others. That’s why I was selected to manage several projects. Along with keeping myself on target, I was able to effectively coordinate the efforts of team members, all while keeping engagement high.
Those experiences allowed me to hone my management skills, giving me a strong foundation that I know will serve me well. I believe this position aligns with my core objectives, giving me an opportunity to provide exceptional value not just to the company but also to the employees I will oversee along the way.

Example 11 – Seasoned Customer Service Manager

I began my customer service career 12 years ago, initially handling calls in a contact center for a leading service provider. That frontline, hands-on time taught me far more than I expected, increasing my interest in key areas like experience management. Additionally, listening to my colleagues’ concerns gave me insights into operational efficiency and engagement, both of which have proven valuable.
Over time, I worked to expand my knowledge and capabilities. I volunteered for special projects, ensuring I could play a role in positive organizational change. In just one year, I was able to oversee my first project, and, a mere six months later, I was promoted to a supervisory role.
As I’ve moved forward, ultimately leading a department, I kept those initial experiences in mind. They allow me to see the situation through the eyes of customers and frontline employees, ensuring that any changes made benefit them both. Ultimately, that’s experience that I want to take to a new company, allowing me to improve new workplaces for everyone.

Example 12 – Seasoned Warehouse Manager

During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work my way up. I initially began as an order packer with a major online retailer. As time progressed, I gathered new skills, including in critical areas like inventory management and operational safety.
In short order, I began transitioning into supervisory roles. At first, I supervised a small team, though I was soon overseeing an entire department. After two years at that level, I began managing full warehouse floors, directing the work of more than 100 employees. Additionally, I played a key role in advancing our operations, including spearheading an IoT initiative to improve efficiency.
Today, I’m looking to move my career forward by taking on a new challenge. The expanded duties that come with this role genuinely caught my eye, and I’m hoping to secure this position – or one like it – as quickly as possible.

Example 13 – Executive

For the past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the technology department manager with an industry-leading company. During my time there, I’ve overseen five unique teams, each comprised of 10 to 20 highly skilled employees.
Along with ensuring productivity, I developed approaches to ensure priorities were properly addressed and that everything was accomplished within budget. Additionally, I coordinated with the C-suite to gather input and facilitate its strategic vision, as well as coach employees toward greater levels of success.
Along the way, I completed my Master’s degree in IT, as well as several certifications in key areas. When combined with my leadership experience, I felt it was time to take the next step and seek out a CTO opportunity.

Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid ide of how to answer “tell me about yourself.” All of the tips and tell me about yourself sample answers above show you what it takes to craft a great response. Use them to your advantage, but don’t forget to use the Tailoring Method, too. That way, your answers will be impactful and relevant, increasing the odds that you’ll impress.

FREE : Tell Me About Yourself PDF "Cheat Sheet"

Ok the next thing you should do is Download our PDF Answer "Cheat Sheet" that gives you "word for word" example answers to this dreaded question.

In it you'll find answers to fit a variety of scenarios including: if you just graduated , have no experience and more!


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Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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Interview Answers

4 Examples of How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in Interviews

300+ Interview Questions Answered.

300+ Interview Questions with Expert Answers.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through steps and examples of how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question to impress employers and get more job offers. We’ll also cover the  costly mistakes you NEED to avoid if you want to pass this question. 

Here’s exactly what you’re going to get:

Let’s get started…

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview:

1. choose the right starting point for your story (important).

Your goal when answering, “tell me about yourself,” is to give a brief, concise walkthrough of your career story that will show off relevant pieces of experience. You want to start at a point in the past (like how you began working in this field), and end up in your current situation. So the first thing to decide is where you’ll begin the story… If you’re a recent graduate: Start with the fact that you just graduated, and explain why you chose this career path or field of area of study.  

For example, you might start your answer like this:

“I graduated with my degree in Economics two months ago. I chose that field of study because I’ve always been interested in finance and money, and a couple of family members told me it leads to great career options, too.”

If you have 1-8 years of experience, start with the moment you graduated and walk them through your employment experience since then.

Here’s an example of how you’d start your interview answer in this situation:

“I graduated with my degree in Industrial Engineering six years ago and immediately went to work for a small design firm in Chicago. Since then, I’ve…”

And if you have 8-20+ years of experience, you can start with a mid-point in your career. This will keep your answer from getting too long.

For example, if you’re a manager, you could start with how you first became a manager. If you’ve been working for 25 years but have only been a sales professional for 12 years, you could begin with how you got started in sales.

Here is an example of how to begin your answer to “tell me about yourself” as a very experienced candidate:

“I first started managing people twelve years ago, when I was promoted from Customer Service Associate to Customer Service Supervisor. Since then, I’ve…”

2. Highlight Impressive Experience and Accomplishments

As you tell your career story, explain key accomplishments you’ve achieved, work you’ve done, skills you’ve learned, and key career moves you’ve made. 

But random impressive facts aren’t enough. You should be thinking about how this ties in with the company you’re talking to.

3. Conclude by Explaining Your Current Situation

Finally, the best way to finish your story is to bring them up to speed on your current situation. Why you wanted to apply for their job , what you’re looking to do next, etc.

For example you might end your answer by saying:

“…and that’s why I wanted to interview with your firm. This position seems like a great opportunity to advance those skills I just talked about, and continue building my career and challenging myself”.

4. Keep Your Answer Work-Related

When employers ask, “tell me about yourself,” in an interview, they usually want to hear about you as a professional. So the safest approach is to keep your answer work-related and share your career story, rather than personal details. You can show more personality as the interview goes on, but it’s risky to share too much personal info when answering, “tell me about yourself.” It could lead to your answer getting too long, or it could cause you to leave out important professional information that the interviewer was looking to know!

5. Be Concise When Answering (2 Minutes or Less!)

When they say “tell me about yourself,” it’s going to be tempting to give a long-winded answer. It’s such an open-ended question. And we covered a lot above, but there’s something just as important as any of that. You need to be concise.  Your communication and ability to stay on track with your answer are two things they are watching closely. The interviewer wants to see that you can tell your story from Point A (the beginning) to Point B (the end) without getting sidetracked, distracted, or scattered. Because it tells them how you’ll communicate as an employee… when there’s a problem, when there’s a disagreement, or when you simply need to share your knowledge or opinion. If you take this answer beyond 2 minutes you are shooting yourself in the foot. In fact, below 90 seconds is ideal. Practice at home with a timer! That’s why I recommend choosing a starting point based on your experience (Step 1 above)… because if you have 25 years of experience and you start at the moment you graduated from college, your answer will be too long.

“Tell Me About Yourself” Example Answers:

Now that we’ve covered the key steps to answering, “tell me about yourself,” let’s look at some full answer examples to this interview question . 

Example Answer for Experienced Candidates:

“I graduated with a Business degree in 2010, and was offered an account management position at a telecommunications company I had interned with. I loved working with customers and managing and growing my accounts, but the industry we were in just wasn’t very appealing to me. After that, I stayed a full year and learned a ton about how to build and manage accounts successfully and  I ended up becoming a top performer in my group before leaving. I left at the 1-year-mark to pursue a very similar position within an industry I’m much more excited about- healthcare. I’ve been at this healthcare startup space for 2 years with this company and I feel ready to take my career to the next level so that’s why I’m currently looking for a new opportunity.”

That first example showed you how to answer “tell me about yourself” for experienced job seekers (at least a few years of experience). Now let’s look at an example for entry-level job seekers and job seekers with no experience . 

Example Answer With No Experience:

“I graduated with a degree in Engineering two months ago. I chose that field of study because I’ve always been interested in math and physics, and a couple of family members told me it leads to great career options. One of my key accomplishments during my academic career was speaking at a conference on the topic of energy-efficient window design, based on research I had done for one of my senior-level classes. This led to an internship that I just wrapped up, so I’m actively looking for a full-time position now.”

Stand Out by “Tailoring” Your Answer to the Company

The end of your interview answer is a big opportunity to customize your answer for the company and job you’re interviewing for. When you talk about what you’re looking to do next in your career, try to mention whatever you see this company providing for your career (leadership, technical challenges, exposure to new areas, etc.) That shows them why you’re excited about their job, which will help you get hired! (I explain more about why this is true here ). Before we move on to more tips and a HUGE mistake to avoid, here’s one more example interview answer for this question.

Shorter Method for How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” (For Experienced Candidates Only)

The method I gave you above is the standard way most recruiters recommend answering “tell me about yourself.”  It’s how I coached job seekers to answer this question for years. There’s another way you can answer, though… and it has some benefits. I’ll explain…Many experts have pointed out that if the interviewer wanted your career story, they could have looked at your resume or your LinkedIn , or asked a question like, “can you walk me through your background?” So there’s another approach for answering, “tell me about yourself,” that skips the career story and just cuts right to the chase: Why you’re awesome and why they should hire you !

Let’s look at 2 word-for-word templates that accomplish this.

After this, you’ll have two proven methods for answering, “tell me about yourself” in interviews, and in the next section, I’ll reveal how to decide which method is best for YOU. 

Example answer if you’re job searching while employed:

“Well, I’m currently working at XYZ Company and I specialize in doing ___. The reason I applied for this job is I saw ___ on the job description and I think I would be able to help you ___ and ___. One of my key accomplishments in my current role was helping my employer do ___, and I’m confident I can help your team get similar results here.”

Example answer template if unemployed:

“In my most recent position at XYZ Company, I specialized in doing ___. The reason I applied for this job is I saw ___ on the job description and I think I would be able to help you ___ and ___. One of my key accomplishments in my last role for XYZ Company was helping them  ___, and I’m confident I can help your team get similar results here.”

Which Method Should You Use for Your Answer?

If you have work experience, both options we’ve covered are very good, and it really depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Choose the one you like best. They’re both excellent ways to answer the question, so don’t stress over it! However, if you are entry-level and have no work experience… or internships at the very least…  then I would go back to the top of this article and use the first, 5-step method for answering, “tell me about yourself.”

This second method we just covered is really best if you want to give a unique, concise answer and you have some relevant work experience to share in the interview!

Practice Your Answer Before the Interview

As a final tip – make sure you go practice everything you plan on saying when the interviewer asks, “what can you tell me about yourself?” Nothing comes out perfect the first time, and you don’t want to appear nervous and stumble when they ask.  So I’d recommend grabbing a piece of paper and writing down the key points you want to talk about in your answer. I like to write them in bullet format. Then, use your smartphone’s voice recorder app to record a few practice answers and see how you sound. Don’t look at your notes as you give your answer. The idea is to try to remember what you want to talk about without reading off the paper. Then glance at the paper AFTER to make sure you covered everything. Keep practicing until you can give a smooth answer without forgetting anything important.

Note: If you’re having a phone interview , you can use notes/bullet points to help guide you through your answer. Nobody can see you on the phone, so take advantage!

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Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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