How Would You Grade This “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Response?

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“Tell me about yourself.”

Take a second to answer this question out loud.  Go ahead - how hard can it be?

Pretty hard, right? Although you’re the world's leading expert on you, picking what to say without delving into everything can be tricky. “Tell me about yourself” is a deceptively complex question that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

To help you master this question, we wanted to give you the chance to grade a response from a REAL candidate!

Grade This “Why Medicine?” Interview Response

Here are your simple instructions.

  1. Watch the video

  2. Read the grading rubric

  3. Re-watch the video

  4. Fill out grading rubric

  5. Read our advice and form your own answer

(Our VERY kind volunteer did her best to make eye contact with both the interviewer and camera - so let’s call it a “panel” interview!)

Have fun. Ready? Go!

Grading Rubric for the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Response

Overall grade: ___ / 5


What are some things that the candidate did well?

What are some potential areas of improvement?


Our Grade:

Overall grade: 3 / 5

What are some things that the candidate did well?

The pacing and tone of the response were both very strong. The candidate exuded a confident, relaxed demeanor. The amount of eye contact and verbal pauses felt in rhythm and balanced. The length of the response was also appropriate and did not drag on too long (a common pitfall of this question).

The fun facts about growing up in the mountains and having a background in theater would likely pique the interviewers’ curiosity and lead to follow-up questions (always a good sign!).

The conversational tone made the response feel unscripted, which will be refreshing to interviewers who hear lots of overly-rehearsed, cookie-cutter responses. This candidate was not merely interested in “playing it safe,” leading to an endearing sense of honesty and openness.   

What are some potential areas of improvement?

The candidate would have been better off avoiding topics like “greatest challenges” and “when/why medicine” in favor of further developing her “fun facts” like growing up in the mountains and having a background in theater. It’s best not to give your whole life story away and rob the interviewers of their future questions.

The structure of the response seemed to weave back and forth between light-hearted and serious topics, which made it tougher to process. The candidate should have forefronted and serious elements and backended the lighthearted info. 

Expressive hand gestures can be helpful in moderation, but the candidate’s generous amount could be distracting to some listeners. 

Luckily, all of these are easy fixes. The candidate clearly has the experiences and tools to be more cohesive and memorable.   

Our Advice for Building Your “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Response

In short, keep it brief and intriguing!

You don’t want to set the tone of the interview as being long-winded from the get-go. 

Here's our formula:

a) My name is ______

b) I (go/went) to school at _______, and I majored in _______

c) Something most people don't know about me is that I ________, 

d) And I love to _______

Presumably, you can fill in the blanks yourself for a and b. 

For c, pick something that's unique to you, and for d, pick your favorite hobby:

"Something people don't know about me is that I once had dinner with Barack Obama, and I have a secret passion for scuba diving."

If you choose your last two items well, the next 5-10 minutes of your interview will be about re-living the story behind c or discussing your interest in d. It’s great if you can start your medical school interview on a topic you feel very comfortable discussing! 

BONUS Tip: Use Recent Experiences

In lieu of a hobby, you could pick the most recent trip you've taken or something you’ve tried recently for the first time. Or you could also give exciting recent updates to your application like a publication or your high school mentees getting into their top colleges.

Using a recent experience makes your answers sound less rehearsed, while also showing you as someone who is active, eager to learn, and constantly trying new things. This is listed as one of the seven habits of extra interesting people in Forbes Magazine.

 

Want to know if your “Tell Me About Yourself” answer is interesting enough? Bounce some ideas off us in the comments below, and we’ll let you know what we think.

Good luck crafting this introductory response - we hope it sets the tone for a stellar interview!