The Home to Hired Blog

If you're a stay-at-home mom considering a return to the workforce, this blog is your companion every step of the way - from discerning your career direction to preparing your application and addressing your resume gap, this is the perfect place to start.

Interview Mastery: Ace the 'Tell Me About Yourself' Question

interviews Nov 21, 2023
woman interviewing for a job

Returning to the professional world after taking a break to focus on your family is a courageous and transformative journey. But let’s face it, those job interviews can be nerve-wracking.  Among the various questions that might arise, there's one seemingly simple yet remarkably complex question that often sets the stage for the entire conversation: "Tell me about yourself." 

If you're a mom returning to the workforce, that question isn’t just about your career—it’s about your whole journey. It’s an opportunity to weave together your life experiences, skills gained during your time away, and your readiness to dive back into your career. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through crafting a response that’s uniquely yours. We’ll share strategies tailored to moms that will help you celebrate your story, highlight your skills, and emphasize your readiness to reenter the workforce so that you have an opportunity to shine when you’re asked, “Tell me about yourself.”  Let’s dive in! 

Understand why interviewers ask 

This question (or a similar variation) is often the first question asked and it’s because it allows the interviewer to ease into the interview and get oriented.  In many cases an interview starts with small talk and this question transitions the conversation from small talk into more formal interview questions.  In addition, this type of question allows the interviewer to get to know you better and gain an understanding of your background – with more nuance than your resume can provide.  Your response can guide the direction of the interview, which is why it’s so important that you prepare your response to this question.  In addition, having a comfortable, prepared response to this question will allow you to start off the interview with confidence if this type of question is asked first. 

What to include in your response 

Your response to this question will be uniquely personal to your life, experiences, and career goals for the future.  However, there are some different elements that we’d recommend incorporating into your response. 

In general, you’ll want to touch on your past, present and future to provide context for where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go.  However, you don’t want to tell your whole life story – instead, consider highlighting the specific things that will be of interest to your interviewer so that they can better identify you as a strong candidate for the job.  The types of things you may want to mention include your educational background or past professional experience, skills you’ve developed that are related to the job, and your interests and passions for the position and company you’re applying to. 

You’ll also want to consider the narrative you want to convey throughout your application materials and interview.  For example, are you returning to the workforce into a completely new type of role or career path?  If so, you may choose to highlight your “can-do” approach to learning new things as illustrated by your determination to learn a new set of skills to set you up for success on your new career path.  Or maybe you’re interested in working for a specific company or industry because you are passionate about a certain cause or issue.  In this case, part of your narrative is your mission-driven nature and your desire to create an impact as illustrated by the volunteering you’ve done throughout your career break.  Everyone’s narrative, motivation, skills, and goals are different so these are only suggestions to help you consider your unique story and how you may want to tell it throughout your applications and interview responses. 

Now you may be wondering whether to incorporate your experience as a stay-at-home mom in your response.  This is completely up to you, but your resume will likely indicate a career break and the fact that the employer invited you to interview indicates that they will probably look favorably on the time you spent caring for your family.  If you choose to talk about your SAHM experience, think about how you can relate it to the skills you’ve developed that will help you succeed in the job that you’re interviewing for.  You can also use this time to convey your excitement to return to the workforce,  why it’s a great time for you to do so, and why this specific role is such a great fit 

Tips to consider when responding 

  • Be brief and relevant: Responses to this question can get lengthy so it’s important to have a clear outline of what you’d like to mention.  A great way to ensure that you’re sharing the most relevant information is to consider the job description and the interviewer’s point of view.  Consider what information you can share that will increase their understanding of the value that you bring and how well you’ll fit into their company or team culture. You’ll want to have just two main points or examples that tell the story of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go. 
  • Tailor to the interviewer: You may be asked this question multiple times throughout the interview process and you don’t need to answer the exact same way each time.  Think about what information would be most helpful to the specific interviewer you’re speaking with.  For example, you may want to go into more on technical/hard skills with the hiring manager who has more of a technical background than you would with the recruiter who just needs to know that you generally have the skills that are required for the job or an interviewer who is more focused on team or culture fit. 
  • Be positive and confident: An interviewer will sense the tone and emotion that you convey through your responses and will likely view your experience as you deliver it.  Remaining positive and confident as you share about your career break, experience, and excitement to return to the workforce will help the interviewer understand your excitement and encourage them to learn more about you. 
  • Write out your response and practice: Gathering your thoughts on paper can be helpful in helping you articulate what you’d actually like to say and it will keep you from rambling in an interview.   

Being thoughtful about your response to the “Tell me about yourself” question can impact the direction of your interview so creating a strategic response to this question is important.  Remember, you bring a unique passion, skill set, and perspective BECAUSE you were a stay-at-home sure to use that to your advantage as you’re provided with opportunities for others to learn more about you in the hiring process. 


Stay connected -  get actionable ideas and motivation delivered to your inbox!

Join our mailing list where we'll share guidance and inspiration to help you take the next step towards your goals.

You're safe with us. We'll never spam or sell your contact info.


Have a follow-up question or looking for something specific?

Use our free Career Concierge service by submitting your question in the form below. We'll get back to you soon with guidance to help you move forward.

You're safe with us. We'll never spam you or sell your contact info.