Have you ever been asked to tell a bit about yourself during an interview? Have you felt yourself going blank as you get asked this question? Have you found yourself entirely clueless?
Going completely quiet as one gets asked “can you tell me something about yourself?” is more common than you think. In that one moment, it is as if people forget everything they have accomplished in their life.
We bring you some tips to keep in mind while you prepare for an interview, so that when you do get asked the question, you have some great things to say.
Firstly, Why is the Question so Tough to Answer:
Answers to questions which require you to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, your experience, your CV can be memorised.
A question like “tell me about yourself” no doubt, can have rehearsed answers. But it is still a very unstructured question, which requires you to pick just the right things to talk about. We are left wondering what exactly does the interviewer want to hear. That is what makes it tricky.
Here are some tips.
- Prepare Well:
Not with a word to word rehearsed answer, but going to an interview, with a loose script in mind is a good idea. In other words, going to an interview with the answer to the following questions in mind is a good idea.
- What is my educational background?
- What is my career background?
- What qualities make me stand out from other candidates?
- What are my interests and aspirations?
- Why am I a good fit for the company?
Collectively, the answers to these questions are a response to the bigger question “can you tell me about yourself?” .
- The Resume Trick:
Common wisdom says it is not a good idea to simply summarise your resume. Besides, the question “can you walk me through your CV?” is there to fill that role.
However, you can use the relevant detail from your resume as a reference, and then use it as a way to talk about yourself.
For example, one can say something like:
“As you can see, my resume shows I have experience in IT, and you might be wondering why I decided to apply for this managerial position. Well, I have always considered myself a…”
- The Quality Check:
Now comes the core of the answer.
When you are asked a question like this, you can talk about an instance which highlights a couple of your qualities. Beginning by giving some context as mentioned in the previous point, you can then talk about those qualities, followed by a specific example.
Here, your quick-thinking plays a role: you choose the example, and the quality according to the company culture, the position and other requirements of the job.
Does the position require you to be a good administrator? Sharp critical thinking skills? Great interpersonal skills? Good communication skills?
So, when you prepare for your interview, also think about this, and then try to recall a time when you displayed the quality.
But, wait, what if you are applying at a position from a different industry? How does one choose an example then? Wouldn’t that become irrelevant?
The answer is no. The example would not be considered irrelevant if you tailor it in a particular way, which highlights the quality, and not just the technicalities.
But what if you don’t have experience? How does one choose an example then?
One need not choose an example from just the professional field. Unpaid experiences count. Remarkable incidents and achievements garnered from extra- and co-curricular- activities one did as a student, volunteering, charity work, community/social service can also be used as examples to talk about the relevant qualities.
Remember, the purpose of the question is to get an idea about how much you understand about the requirements of the position: the qualities you require to handle the tasks successfully.
- What Not to Do:
- Do not go off track.
- Do not use too many fillers like “well”, “umm”, “okay”, “so”.
- Do not start talking about awkward personal details.
- Do not parrot what’s written in your CV and cover-letter
- Do not make it too long.
- Do not ask “what do you want to hear?”
So now, the next time you find yourself faced with “tell me about yourself”, you will actually have things to talk about!