“HOW TO” answer the basic question in a job interview – Tell me something about yourself?
“Tell Me Something About Yourself?”
“Tell me about yourself” is a question that most interviewees expect and it is the most difficult to answer as well. Though one could answer this open- ended question in a myriad of ways, the key to answering this question or any other interview question is to offer a response that supports your career objective. This means that you shouldn’t respond with comments about your hobbies, spouse, or extra curricular activities. Trust me, interviewers aren’t interested. To start with there is no correct answer to this interview question. I would lean in the favor of a quick reference to some personal traits that give a quick-view of who you are. From there one could move to a one sentence of any relevant education/qualification. There should also be a mention of employment history.
Purpose of the Question:
There always is a purpose of asking each and every question in the interview. One cannot ask anything and everything. Again, set of interview questions varies from industry to industry and position to position. Interviewers use the interview process as a vehicle to eliminate your candidacy. Every question they ask is used to differentiate your skills, experience, and personality with that of other candidates. They want to determine if what you have to offer will mesh with the organization’s mission and goals.
What type of answer is Expected???
Try to avoid this type of answer: “I am a hard-worker who is good with numbers. After I worked as a financial analyst for a few years, I decided to go to law school. I just finished and now am looking for a new challenge.”
You might consider answering it as: “I began developing skills relevant to financial planning when I worked as a financial analyst for three years. In that role, I succeeded in multiplying the wealth of my clients by carefully analyzing the market for trends. The return on the portfolios I managed was generally 2% more than most of the portfolios managed by my company. My initiative, planning, and analytic skills were rewarded by two promotions. As the manager of a team, I successfully led them to develop a more efficient and profitable strategy for dealing with new accounts. My subsequent training in the law, including tax law and estate law, gives me an informed view of what types of investments and charitable gifts would be most advantageous for your clients.”
This way you discussed everything about your abilities without leaving the interviewer wanting to know more since by now he might have had an idea about your clarity about your own self and how well you know that you are suitable for the position.
Preparing for the Answer:
Follow the steps as outlined below to ensure your response will grab the interviewer attention.
- Provide a brief introduction. Introduce attributes that are key to the open position.
- Provide a career summary of your most recent work history. Your career summary is the “meat” of your response, so it must support your job objective and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your current experience. Don’t go back more than 10 years.
- Tie your response to the needs of the hiring organization. Don’t assume that the interviewer will be able to connect all the dots. It is your job as the interviewee to make sure the interviewer understands how your experiences are transferable to the position they are seeking to fill.
- Ask an insightful question. By asking a question you gain control of the interview. Don’t ask a question for the sake of asking. Be sure that the question will engage the interviewer in a conversation. Doing so will alleviate the stress you may feel to perform.
There you have it – a response that meets the needs of the interviewer AND supports your agenda.When broken down into manageable pieces, the question, “So, tell me about yourself?” isn’t overwhelming. In fact, answering the question effectively gives you the opportunity to talk about your strengths, achievements, and qualifications for the position. So take this golden opportunity and run with it!
When Asked by Different People?
HR manager or CEO of the company or the Departmental Head can ask the same question and your answer should vary. The expectation of each such person is different.
When asked by HR Manager your response might be: “My career has been characterized by my ability to work well with diverse teams. I seek out opportunities to involve others in the decision-making process. This collaboration and communication is what has enabled me to achieve success in my department. People are the most valuable resource of any organization.”
When asked by CEO your response could be: “I have achieved success in my career because I have been focused on the bottom line. I have always sought out innovative solutions to challenging problems to maximize profitability. Regardless of the task or challenge, I always established benchmarks of performance and standards of excellence. I have never sought to maintain the “status quo.” An organization that does not change and grow will die. I would enjoy working with you to help define new market opportunities in order to achieve the organization’s goals.”In each instance, we responded to the “needs of the individual.” It is almost guaranteed that, when you respond appropriately to the diverse needs of the different managers, you will become the standard by which all of the other candidates will be measured.
The question is very tricky and being the first question of the interview; one need to be a bit more careful in answering the same. This question can make or break the interviewer’s interest in you.