Tell me something about yourself…

8 Sep

A friend of mine shared an he was conducting. At any interview, after the initial pleasantries are exchanged, the interview candidate is asked the question “Can you ?” My friend asked a similar question to the interviewee.

 

The interviewee mentioned “I am an engineering graduate from University X. I have two brothers, one sister, and a dog. My father works as an accountant and my mom is a housewife. I love to play cricket and reading books”

 

What do you think? Did the interviewee give an appropriate/satisfactory response to a simple question?

 

Let’s analyze the purpose of asking such a question by the interviewer. Most likely, the interviewer has read through your resume prior to the interview. Sometimes the resume may have too many details to truly capture the core area of expertise of the interviewee. This question allows the interviewee to list important facts or accomplishments in their career to the interviewer. The purpose of asking this question is to provide the interviewee a chance to provide a professional background to the interviewer.

 

Now what does the interviewee have to gain by giving the best answer possible to this question? This is the best opportunity for the interviewee to set the tone for the interview. If you provide enough details to this question that interest the interviewer, the follow-up questions will be based on your response. Imagine candidate A who replies “I am an Engineering graduate from University Y. I have spent last three years working on Internet of Things projects. For my performance on Project C, I was awarded Award D. In college, I have really enjoyed studying data sciences, operations management, and random processes”. Candidate B gives you the response mentioned at the start, which is  a mostly personal answer.

 

As an interviewer, Candidate A has provided several key words that you can probe deeper. Internet of Things, Project C/Award D, and the courses. Candidate A provided seeds that can now steer the interview to his/her strengths!

 

As for Candidate B, as an interviewer, the interviewer would not know what to ask next based on the answer alone. The interviewer would then turn to his/her notes on the resume and steer the interview to his/her liking. Let’s analyze Candidate B’s answer a bit deeper as well.

“I am an engineering graduate from University X. I have two brothers, one sister, and a dog. My father works as an accountant and my mom is a housewife. I love to play cricket and reading books”

The only detail that is professionally relevant is the engineering graduation part. The candidate’s siblings and dog will  not help at the job. Neither are the details about his parents. The hobbies are not relevant to the job as well. Sometimes mentioning family background may be helpful. However, it must be done in such a way that it aids your professional goals. It is OK to mention something like “Coming from an agricultural background, I have always had interest in using technology to solve problems that farmers face”.

 

Key Takeaway

Always provide a professional background and summary to the question “Can you tell me something about yourself?” As a job candidate, it is the best opportunity for you to highlight key details and steer the interview towards your strengths.

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