Everybody would agree that facing an interview confidently is an art. It requires a lot of deliberation and practice if you really want to come out with flying colors. Almost all those who have faced interviews in their professional career would agree that “Tell me about yourself” is the toughest question. This is because an interview often starts with this question and your answer sets the tone for the rest of it. A lot of candidates, however, are clueless about how they must answer this question perfectly.
You’ll prefer starting your career story with a very short answer or you’ll switch gears to come to the meat of the matter directly. But what is so difficult about this question?
The question is not very difficult as such but it often causes a mental struggle in candidates. Here are the three main dilemmas that they face:
As this question starts hovering in your mind, your stress level may start to rise. And this may not augur well during interviews. This question actually provides you the opportunity to take control of an interview. By answering this question properly, candidates get the opportunity to pitch themselves as the perfect resource.
The simple answer is — your interviewers want to know you better. They want to check two things:
So, it’s a question that is meant to know your thought process. Your interviewer may may ask this question casually, but a casual and structured answer can throw you off from the game.
This does not mean you should regurgitate the cover letter and resume. Doing so will be a blunder. You can mention some points of your cover letter and resume, but the thing that matters the most is how effectively you mention your accomplishments, which are relevant to the position on offer.
Imagine you are an interviewer — and a candidate answers like this:
“Well, I’m from Indore and I was born in 1983. I did my matriculation in 1988, 10+2 in 1990. I got my first job in 1995…….” I think you will be immediately turned off after hearing such a response and the candidate will lose the chance.
Some candidates actually prepare a monologue of 5-10 minutes like cricket commentary. Our advice is that you finish your reply within 90 seconds. You will get more questions to answer about your skills, experience, and abilities. There is no need to answer them all at once.
Okay, by now you would have an idea about what the purpose behind asking such a question is and what you should not do while answering this question. Now, we will delve deeper to make you understand how exactly you must answer this question. Marc Cenedella at the Ladders advises beginning with one specific point: Focusing on what is relevant to them and not emphasizing on what you think is important. That means you will need to customize your response as per the needs of the organization.
So, while answering ‘Tell me about yourself’, talk about those qualities that the organization is looking for and not just those that you possess.
Now it’s time to come to the main point. You must have done your research and learned about the right qualities that the company is looking for in a candidate. Here is an ideal way to answer this question:
Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Candidate: Well. I’ve been working for the past five years as a lead software engineer and during this period, I have worked on different projects in verticals like banking and finance. I’ve been trained and certified on a number of different software technologies such as…..”
The candidate started off well. S/he came to the point quickly and gave a targeted answer. Mentioning about different skills and technologies makes a candidate a valuable resource for a company.
Eventually, the goal of the candidate should be to appear as a perfect candidate without beating about the bush. It would helpful if you project yourself as a valuable employee for future.