When writing a cover letter, I have hear you need to show how your experience makes you the perfect match for the job.

However, I have also researched how to answer the questions 'tell me about yourself'. It says you should talk about your experience as well.

Should you basically repeat the cover letter when asked that interview question? Or should you do something different.

  • 1
    Personally I would say the cover letter is to show how YOU are a good fit. Why you think that you will be good in the company, you only need to briefly mention experience. When they ask about experience in an interview it should be based off technical skills and what you've been able to achieve in past companeis – Twyxz Jan 29 at 9:21

The role of the cover letter is often misunderstood.

The cover letter is a good vehicle to

  1. Demonstrate that you have done homework for this application. You have read up on the company and the specific role and you can intelligently talk about it. A cover letter that is cookie cutter and not specific for the role or company does more harm than good.
  2. You compare how your experiences in the resume stack up against the requirements from the job posting. Sometimes I have actually put this in a table: first column for requirements, second on how I meet (or don not meet) them. That's what most HR reps have to do anyway, and they'll like you more if you do the work for them. It's okay to have some holes in there (no one is perfect) but you should explain how do you plan to work around it
  3. Explain or comment on any "unusual" things on your resume: gaps, major changes, job hopping, whatever it may be
  4. Explain why you think you are good fit for the job and why you think the job is good fit for you.

The "tell us about yourself" question is more about your resume than it is about the cover letter.


So the cover letter should give a good starting point. When you are in the interview you should get some additional clues what interests them and elaborate and explain further.

Depending on whom you talk to, you can go more into the technical stuff, the successes you created for your employers or your philosophy.


What I look for in a covering letter is what interests the applicant about the job and about the company. There's nothing wrong with mentioning relevant experience here, but as Twyxz comments, in the covering letter this should be kept brief. I've read great covering letters where the applicant doesn't talk about themselves at all.

Assuming there isn't an HR department that's already binned half the applicants, you're trying to get the interest of the Hiring Manager, who is always going to have other things on their mind - they're running a department as well as recruiting. The covering letter is what makes them look at your CV/resume. The CV/resume is where they decide if the applicant is worth interviewing. The interview is where they get to know you. It's not until after the interview that they'll decide - usually from a shortlist of applicants all of whom could do the job - which applicant is the best fit.

But no one will ever be a perfect match for any job - even after years in position. Applicants often make the mistake of trying to sell themselves as perfect when they don't know what the Hiring Manager knows about the job itself, and about who else has applied. That never comes across well.

  • A highly informative answer – Fattie Jan 29 at 13:43

Should you basically repeat the cover letter when asked that interview question?

I've interviewed candidates for over twenty years, and the number of cover letters I have read before the interview is exactly zero. You should not assume that anyone who is interviewing you has read your cover letter.

I read resumes very carefully because I'm looking for signal about experience and scope of past work. But by the time the resume gets to me, someone in recruiting has already gotten what they need to out of the cover letter.

If an interviewer asks a question that is answered in your cover letter, that's great: you've prepared a good answer for that question. Answer the question and be happy you got an easy question.

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