How to answer “Tell me about yourself” in job interview

We know this is most commonly discussed question on all forums but, still this week we chose to discuss the question “Tell me about yourself”. There are as many numbers of answers for this question as number of interviews. Today we are going to discuss about traditional ways of answering the question, why this question is asked at all and how to answer this question based on situation.

Traditional Answers

How many of you have answered this question by starting with details of you and your family members; then, going through details of your education and then your likes and dislikes? Although this strategy is not bad, it is inadequate especially for job interviews. We understand that in case you are a fresher you may not have anything else to speak about. For a second, put yourself into interviewer’s shoes. What would you expect?

Why this question is at all asked?

Many fresh college graduates are nervous in an interview. Few interviewers look towards this question as an ice-breaking question. Talking about oneself is considered to be one of the easiest tasks. Also, job of interviewer is to understand what the candidate knows and not pointing out what he doesn’t know. Intention behind this question is to make interviewee comfortable with environment.

Few interviewers are interested in knowing if you are serious for job interview and have you prepared this predictable question well. Failing to answer this question hampers your chances of selection badly. So, these interviewers might not be that bothered about details in your answer but, interested in delivery of the answer.

Few interviewers ask “Tell me about yourself” or “Introduce yourself” in order to know you genuinely, to understand background you come from. Answers to these questions give them pointers to ask further questions. Here, when we say background, we mean details related to job you have applied for.

So what is the right answer to this question?

Strategy to answer

Final answers may differ for this question but, strategy remains the same. While preparing an answer for this question, ask yourself following questions. Answers to which should give you your final answer.

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What have you done for so many years?
  3. What are you currently doing?
  4. What are your achievements?
  5. What is your objective?

Let’s look at the answers one by one.

  1. Where are you from?

Start by explaining where are you from?

Let’s take an example. Bharat spent 8 years of his professional career as sales and marketing person at various positions. He is basically from Bangalore. He can start by saying, “Hello, I am Bharat. I am excited to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to present myself. I have spent most of life as a student in Bangalore. I completed my Mechanical Engineering from XYZ college in 2004 with first class throughout.”

If Bharat is a fresh graduate student who wishes to, join sales department of a CAD solution company, he could say, “Hello, I am Bharat. I am excited to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to present myself. I am from Belagaon and currently studying in Bangalore. I will pass my Mechanical Engineering in June 2015.”

  1. What have you done for so many years?

For answering this question look at one thing which you have been doing for last few years.

Bharat could say “I am a result-oriented sales and marketing professional with over 8 years experience predominantly in CAD, CAE and PLM field. I have worked with sales and marketing departments of ABC group, XYZ Technologies and MNO Consulantants in these years.”

Bharat as a fresh graduate would say, “I am a Mechanical Engineer with interest in CAD, CAE and PLM field. Right now I am preparing for final semester examination. I am people oriented person who likes to interact with people. I also like providing them solutions for the identified problems.”

  1. What are you currently doing?

After understanding you in first few lines interviewer is interested in knowing what you do currently.

Bharat could say, “I am currently, leading newly launched Product Sales Division of XYZ Technologies with the help of 6 team members’ for sales and marketing functions for last 18 months. I interact with clients on regular basis. I conduct review meetings and also mentor junior sales Engineers.”

Fresh graduate could say, “I am currently busy on working on my final year project where we have decided to use Finite Element Analysis as a tool to do parametric study of bridges under variable loads. In the project we are changing loads considering various traffic trends throughout the day.”

  1. What are your achievements?

You could add your achievements in order to supplement your claim for the job.

Bharat could say, “I have specific communication and presentation skills to co-ordinate with internal and external customers and leverages finely-honed interpersonal, negotiation and time management skills to expand business. Last quarter, I met 95% of target. Throughout my career, I have been a consistent performer, always achieving at least 90% target.”

Fresh graduate could say, “I am trained on CATIA – a computer aided drawing tool by official partner of DASSAULT. During last break, I was an intern at ASD where I did market research on CAE field. During this internship, I talked to many clients of ASD which helped me introduce to the field of CAD/CAE sales really well.”

  1. What is your objective?

End with restating the same objective from your resume.

Bharat could say, “I am looking forward to an assignment where experience in Funnel Creation, Branding, Channel management and Team Building can be leveraged to contribute to organizational targets and overall growth”

Fresh graduate could say, “I am looking forward to work with CAD/CAE Company where I can join Sales and Marketing team where I can contribute to growth and in turn learn not only technical aspects but commercial aspects of the industry.”

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