How to handle the frequently asked question at an interview “Tell me about yourself”
Though it is the most frequently asked question at interviews, candidates are rarely prepared with a valid answer, says Joseph Devasia
Often at an interview, the first question one is asked is: ‘Tell me about yourself’ and candidates wonder what are interviewers so inquisitive about. To some, this question may seem simple while for some, this may actually be a hard nut to crack as they are not sure of what to say.
‘Tell me about yourself’ does not literally mean you start narrating your personal or professional memoir. Remember, although the employer is asking you a personal question, it is interrelated to ‘what can you bring to my business?’
The interviewer uses this question as an icebreaker to put you at ease and make you feel comfortable. It helps the interviewer to evaluate your personality and social and communication skills. The interviewer wants to gauge how you present yourself, your confidence, the tone of your voice, the choice of words, etc. This question is pretty vague and gives you a lot of freedom to highlight your strengths and hence, the interviewer uses this question as a character sketch. This is the “make or break” question at all interviews – a candidate can actually take control of the interview by simply answering this question intelligently and presenting the answer in a way in which it matches the qualities the interviewer is looking for.
While answering this question, most candidates end up concentrating too much on the factors already mentioned in the resume, which the interviewer has already read over; hence, there is no need to run through it again. One needs to create an answer, which goes beyond one’s resume and summaries one’s journey in life so far. Candidates need to give the interviewer a synopsis about themselves highlighting their USPs and marketing themselves in line with what the job requires.
As this is the first and the most frequently asked question; one has to be prepared to cite hobbies, interests, skills that will help the interviewer relate to the requirements of the job.
Tip: When you walk into an interview, remember to always expect the “tell me about yourself” question. Pull together all your positive traits and put together a creative answer including something that you have recently achieved. Pen down your skills, which can be related to the job requirements and which you can use in a constructive way to benefit the organisation. You can review yourself and see whether you have a logical, friendly, an expressive and a positive spirit within you.
Answering this simple yet complicated question confidently will help you leave a lasting impression on the interviewer and set a standard for him/her to review other candidates. And for all you know, it would probably get you the job too.
This article authored by Joseph Devasia, Managing Director Antal International India appeared in Times Ascent on 23 May 2014