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Anonymous Asks: How to Answer the Most Dreaded Interview Question

A media and storytelling expert shares practical tips on telling your own story.

By Lesley Jane Seymour | Photo Illustration by Yujin Kim and Yan Ruan

In our Anonymous Asks series, we pose your anonymous questions to women who are experts in their fields. Today’s question is about how best to tell your story in an interview—so we called on storytelling expert, media-industry leader, and founder of CoveyClub Lesley Jane Seymour to share her advice. Have a question you’d like answered anonymously? An expert you think we should feature? Let us know at The M.M. Team


“I know I’m an interesting person with great experience, but every time an interviewer says, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ I start stumbling over my words. What’s the best way to tell my story in these situations?”

Lesley Jane Seymour:

“Tell me about yourself” is the most dreaded question in an interview. It’s so obvious (like “Why do you want to be President of the United States?”) but can leave us tongue-tied. The great thing is that you can plan ahead. Much like having a prepared (oh, dreaded words) “elevator pitch,” you can prep a few clever answers that will explain who you are, but in a way that connects more deeply.

A few pointers: Make sure you’ve done your research about the company and, if you have their name, about your interviewer. Check the internet and social media to see if you have any shared touch points: Perhaps you’ve lived in the same regions at some point, shared a passion for a hobby, or have both moved divisions every two years. It’s a great ice breaker to say something like, “Like you, I grew up in the Midwest.” 

Here are some other clever ways to respond to the question, especially if you can’t get a handle on the interviewer:


  • “Well, I could give you the standard answer about my work experience and skills, but let me tell you what really sets me apart. I have a knack for seeing opportunities where others see challenges. And I thrive on turning those opportunities into tangible results. Whether it’s finding a new revenue stream or solving a complex problem, I love a good challenge.”
  • “I could tell you about my qualifications and achievements, but what’s really interesting about me is my unconventional path to this industry. I come from a completely different background, and I’ve learned that the skills and experiences I’ve gained along the way have given me a unique perspective that I can apply to this job. I think that sets me apart from other candidates.” 
  • “You know, I don’t think my resume really captures who I am as a person. What really drives me is my passion for [insert a relevant cause or interest]. In my spare time, I [insert a relevant and related hobby or activity]. I think this passion and enthusiasm translates into my work, and I believe it’s what makes me stand out as a candidate.”

Written By

Lesley Jane Seymour

Lesley Jane Seymour is a media entrepreneur and one of the industry’s most respected leaders. In 2017, she created CoveyClub, a virtual meeting place for lifelong learners. She has also served as editor-in-chief for several publications, including More Magazine and Marie Claire, and been named one of Forbes’s Most Powerful Fashion Editors.

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