You would think that the easiest thing to do is to tell people about ourselves. How hard can it be? After all nobody knows best about you than yourself! However, people get tongue tied when a recruiter asks them this dreaded question “tell me about yourself”. Here are a few tips to help you through with one of the most dreaded questions in the recruiting process.
Be prepared for:
This is one of the most expected questions in any interview. However not many people know how to answer this well because they aren’t prepared too well to answer these kind of questions. Now being unprepared for something even when you know you will be facing it is sheer laziness.
Some of the standard answers include your name, your educational qualifications, and some even go as far as talking about their hobbies. Some just recite their entire CV. Although these are important, you need to be aware of the context while you are answering. You need to understand what the recruiter is expecting from you when they ask you to talk about yourself. The recruiter is always assessing you even when he/ she is informal with you.
Make sure you take some time off to focus on this question, and find a suitable answer. Make a list of things you are good at and focus on the ones that suit the role you are expected to play in the company. Even if you are trying to tell them about something you are proud of, but is inconsequential to the outcome of your interview, make it seem like the lessons you have learned from the experience helped you grow in a way that will be beneficial to your job designation.
Answer to the question varies:
The answer to this question varies depending on who is asking you the question. If you are asked this question in the technical round you will have to concentrate more on your technical achievements and interests. But if you are asked this question in the HR round, the recruiter is looking to asses you as a person, as to how you will gel with your co workers, and how you handle stress. It is best to keep your personal details to a bare minimum in both cases. Stating your name and academic background should be enough, unless the recruiter probes for more. Answer to the point without rambling as far as the personal details or hobbies are concerned. Remember, you are here to bag that job offer and not to chat with the recruiter. This is what the recruiter is looking to know about in your answers:
- The recruiter is interested to know about your background.
- He wants to see how you present yourself
- He needs a quick overview of your resume by yourself.
- He wants to see how confident you are about yourself
- Are you clear about your views and your thought process.
- Are you nervous about presenting yourself?
- He wants to see if you have ever demonstrated leadership qualities.
- How consistent are you?
- How confident are you? and are you too confident/ arrogant?
Giving Self introduction in an interview:
The objective of any job interview is to sell you as the best option for the position available. So you should be like a good salesman and always focus on saying things that will improve your chances of being hired. That does not mean you can lie, but carefully select the facts you present to them. For example, if you are looking for a job as a Marketing executive, bragging about your achievements on the cricket pitch will get you nowhere compared to the inter class quiz competition you won.
The same goes to telling them about you. Focus on the skills that you are known for, and the qualities that represent you, which help the recruiters determine how much of an asset you are to the company. Rambling on and on about how you will be an asset to the company, how you are hard working and easy going will only bore the recruiter. Stick to talking about the skill sets you have developed which will help you in your role within the company.
Do not dwell in the past always:
The question is to tell about yourself. If you waste time thinking about what it is that makes you what you are, you give off a bad vibe to the recruiter. This is why it is important to prepare beforehand. Do not waste time in thinking about the best possible answers, have a couple of well rehearsed answers/ qualities at the edge of your mind, which you can present to the recruiter. Most of the time, the recruiter is looking for your confidence and enthusiasm when you answer this question. Do not pause or stall when you answer this question, this shows a sense of lack of self awareness and self esteem on your part. Take care of non verbal cues such as correcting your slouchy posture, smiling and generally looking alert when you answer this question.
Be passionate about yourself:
You have to captivate your recruiter right from the first instance. The first words that flow out of your mouth must reel your recruiter in, and keep him interested till the end of your answer. Sound passionate about yourself, like you take yourself seriously and make it seem like you are the top priority in your life. Going a bit over the top and using metaphors when answering these questions will actually be beneficial to you. here are a few phrases you can start with
- “If I were to describe my life in three words…” this lets out an aura that says you know well about yourself. It demonstrates your ability to be precise and crisp with your descriptions.
- “I live by the words of/ The quote that describes me best is…” an air of sophistication follows with a popular quote. Using an obscure lesser known quote will also work well. It shows you are well motivated as well.
- “My personal philosophy is…” This is a great way to let the recruiters know that you are a thinker who has your life sorted out well.
- “People who know me best say that I am…” shows you are confident and have a good rapport with people and have a charming demeanor.
- “My passion is…” This is a great opener, where you can start out about your passion towards subjects/ skills that are required in your job description.
- “I’ve always wanted to be…” this is a great way to let them know that you have been passionate about your job and have been looking forward to it for a long time, you can then go on to talk about your achievements and your preparations to make it in your profession.
- “If they made a movie about my life…” This is a great way to start out playful, yet show them your professional demeanor.
These are just a few examples, you can always improve on them to suit your needs best. However, memorize a few before you go to your interview. You have to sound convincing, and the answers must seem natural and not rehearsed, this is very crucial for your performance. Practice these a few ties until you are comfortable talking about your academic achievements and leisurely activities without having to stop and think. Although these responses are unorthodox, these stand out from the crowd of regular answers and make you seem more interesting, improving your chances of getting noticed.
Be prepared for follow up interview questions:
Once you have finished answering the question tell about yourself, the recruiter will throw a follow up question at you, either after you finish answering or he will interrupt you in the middle to ask you a follow up. This is done to throw the candidate off balance and to check if the candidate is giving a genuine answer.
These questions will usually probe slightly deeper about your answers to find out the extent of your interest you take in describing about yourself. If you do not know the answers to these questions you can admit it and they can let it go. It is all about how you can handle those questions rather than how you answer.
How tell me about yourself question can work in your favor?
Recruiters are only looking for your strong suit. Unlike university exams where you are tested based on knowledge, a job interview only aims at knowing the depth of your knowledge in your field of expertise. Hence, when you are asked to tell about yourself, you can easily steer the interview in a direction you are comfortable in. If you highlight/ hint about your pet areas of expertise, the recruiter will tend to stick to that itself. The recruiter will tend to continue to ask in detail about the things you seem interested in if you make it seem interesting to the recruiter as well.