How To Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' For A College Interview

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One of the most common questions students face is often 'Tell me about yourself' for college interviews. This question allows the college admissions professional to know you better and assess whether you are a right fit for the college. Understanding how to frame your response to this question can guide you in providing a satisfactory answer that reveals a bit more about you than your resume can suggest. In this article, we discuss why college admissions offices ask you about yourself, share some steps for preparing a response for this question and provide some example answers.

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Why Do Interviewers Ask 'Tell Me About Yourself' For A College Interview?

Interviewers ask 'Tell me about yourself' for college interviews to get an in-depth view of your background and relevant information regarding your qualifications for the respective course or degree. Your response reflects who you are and what are your motivations and interests. This question helps college admissions offices understand your qualities and how you might fit in with the college's community. Typically, this is the first interview question an interviewer asks. Your response can make a favourable impression and set the tone for the rest of your interview.

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself"

How To Answer The 'Tell Me About Yourself' Question In A College Interview?

Follow these steps to prepare an answer to this common college interview question:

1. Provide an informal introduction

Begin with a general introduction comprising your name and the name of your high school. As completing school is a primary criterion to qualify for a college education, giving some detail about your educational background can be a great starting point for your self-introduction.

Example: "Hi, I am Kavach Saxena and I went to JYP Public High School in Pune where I completed both my 10th and 12th boards."

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2. Talk about family and upbringing

As part of your background, you may include specific details about your family and hometown. Talk about where you are from, if you have any siblings and any impressive detail about your household. Since their family and immediate surroundings primarily shape people, providing this kind of information can help the interviewer form an idea of your disposition and social standing.

Example: "I was born and brought up in Pune, along with my two younger siblings. I love the cantonment, defence areas, hills, ample gardens and lush greenery of Pune which also create its favourable climate all year round. As a hub spot of Maharashtrian culture, growing up in Pune has exposed me to various cultural activities, including festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Janmashtami. As my parents are in the event management business, I have attended various religious and cultural events around the city. I want to stay in Pune and strive to help with my parents' business in the future."

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3. Mention your general activities

You can include your areas of interest and any hobbies you may have next. Make sure the activities and interests are specific to you and are beneficial to your college application in a certain way. For example, someone applying for a literature degree can express an interest in reading books, participating in debates, joining book clubs and engaging in creative writing. This is also a good time to mention any experience you may have that can contribute to your field of study.

Example: "In my school days, I was particularly interested in organising annual events and hosting school functions. In my spare time, I volunteered at my parents' business and helped with various tasks related to event management. Apart from this, I am also an avid reader and enjoy non-fiction and business books."

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4. Talk about quantifiable achievements

If you have made significant accomplishments that are relevant to your college application, mention them with proper quantifiable information. Include facts, figures and metrics to make your statement seem believable and impressive.

Example: "When I was in 12th standard, I hosted my 18th birthday party where we invited over 150 guests. I handled all aspects, from hall booking and lighting to catering and vendor management. The party was a success, as many of the guests personally informed me later on. There was less than 2% food waste and I was able to execute the event ₹10,000 under the estimated budget."

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5. Give some unique personal information

To make your answer stand out among other interviewees, add a fun fact or some personal anecdote about yourself that reflects your personality and reveals something fresh and unique about you. It may or may not be directly connected with your college application or degree. All that matters is that the interviewer gets to know a little more about you beyond the purposes of the interview. This is a key component to personalising your answer, so make sure you say something genuine that the interviewer is not likely to hear from other candidates.

Example: "Apart from my obvious inkling for event management, I also have a keen interest in going for hikes. The Sandakphu Gurdum Trek and the Hampta Pass Trek are my favourite hiking trails so far."

Related: A Useful Guide For Sharing A Fun Fact About Yourself

6. Explain why this opportunity is important for you

Lastly, let the interviewer know why you are giving the interview and what this opportunity means to you. Explain how getting into that particular college or university can be beneficial for your long-term career goals and can make a difference in your life. Also, mention how you are going to contribute and make an impact on the class or college community. Highlight that you understand the value of give and take and are ready to honour the values of the college.

Example: "I am very passionate about event management and want to expand my parents' business. I want to pursue my bachelor's degree in business management from the Indian Management School (IMS) as I feel that this degree can equip me with all the skill sets I need for managing and growing our family business. IMS' core values really resonate with me and I believe I can add to the student community by bringing in a fresh perspective to managing events and growing an established business."

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Additional Example Answers

Here are two sample responses to the 'tell me about yourself' college interview question:

Example 1

"I am Harshita Khanna and I have recently completed my schooling at Maria's Day School. I grew up in a military family that moved around different parts of the country. Through each experience of moving to a new city, I have learned how to appreciate and connect with people of other religions and social backgrounds. In the process, I have learned so much about each city's history and culture. This inspired me to choose international relations and political science as my areas of study. I believe that my background can offer a unique perspective as I pursue this path.

Being the oldest of three children, I usually spend part of my day doing household chores and taking care of my younger siblings. I am passionate about animals and on the weekends, I volunteer at the local animal shelter. The fact that Hyasat University has an animal welfare club that spends time at the animal shelter near campus was a major motivating factor for applying to this university.

In the future, I want to research and understand the interaction of various Indian cultures and their ethnographic and political implications. Hyasat University places a significant focus on research and scholarship, which attracted me to the university and excites me about being a student here. I am hopeful that my academic endeavours and enquiries into political science and international relations can bring recognition to the university as well."

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Example 2

"I am Chirag Paul and I completed my school education last year at Holy Child High School. I was born in Jamnagar but migrated to Bhopal while I was quite young. During my childhood, I used to visit my relatives in Jamnagar regularly when I and my cousins would visit music shows and movie theatres. This sparked my interest in music, movies and theatre arts and led me to pursue a career in filmmaking.

Currently, I take regular classical music lessons and am part of a local theatre group. To date, I have performed at over 25 music festivals at my school and our group has staged 15 shows locally. While I am particularly keen on music and theatre and want to make my own film productions someday, I also have an interest in physical activities like karate and football.

I believe I am the ideal candidate for this film school thanks to my background in performance arts. I would love to attend this university since it is so well-staffed with talented and well-known academics that specialise in filmmaking and criticism. It is a fantastic chance for me to learn from such great professors, and not to mention, getting a chance to move back to Jamnagar and enjoy the beaches would be a welcome change after spending over a decade of my life landlocked in Bhopal."

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