"Tell me about yourself."

Commonly Asked Residency Interview Questions: “Tell Me About Yourself.”

Perhaps one of the most difficult to answer interview questions is often the first asked: “Tell me about yourself.” In this blog, we’ll share strategies on how to prepare a winning answer to this question.

Understand your interviewer’s intentions: “Tell me about yourself.”

First, don’t misunderstand your interviewer’s intention when they ask you to “Tell me about yourself.” They aren’t asking you to describe “a day in my life” or hoping you’ll share your autobiography. They want to determine if you’re a good fit for their program. This means telling them about who you are as an aspiring resident and giving insight into how you’ll fit into their culture.

Crafting your answer

So, how exactly do you tell a stranger about yourself in a concise manner under professional circumstances?


The first consideration is timing. You should aim to spend 45-90 seconds answering this question – depending on how fast you talk and what you want to convey.


So, how do you figure out just what you want to share?

Start by writing a list of bullet points that speak to the most important aspects of who you are. Don’t limit yourself – include everything! For this part of your preparation, it’s helpful to start from childhood or your teen years and move forward.

Next, you’ll want to go over this list with an eye for what’s relevant to this particular interview situation – and what’s going to make you shine while also being honest – AND what you can cover in 45 -90 seconds. It’s a tall order to fill.

Using your revised list, expand on the remaining bullet points to create your 45 – 90 second response. Keep in mind that you DO NOT want your response to sound rehearsed, so watch our Interview Prep series video “Polished, Prepared, and Intentional”  for tips on how to be well-prepared while also sounding conversational.

You can also watch our video on this topic for an example list and final response.


Here’s a quick review of how to prepare your own answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. Make a bullet point list of “about you” information. This list can be as long you’d like! It’s better to start with a really long list so you have more options.
  2. Analyze the list and remove anything that’s not helpful in giving insight about you that Program Directors might find relevant and interesting.
  3. Review the remaining items on your list and begin expanding on those ideas to create your content.
  4. Once you have a paragraph drafted, practice it as much as possible, and in different scenarios (in the mirror, with family and friends, while driving, on the phone, and even on Facetime). This is the key to being able to deliver your response in a conversational tone!

Thanks for reading this blog! We hope you found it helpful. If you did, share it with other IMGs who are getting ready for residency interviews.

For more information about our comprehensive Interview Prep service, visit us here.



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