I think we’ve all been in this situation before. You got the interview, and now you’re sitting down with the interviewer. Everything is going great.
You got your story in the bag. You practiced the behavioral or story-telling interview technique. You got this! You’re confident!
Then they ask you that dreaded question. Actually, it’s not even a question. It’s a demand. The sweat starts to roll down your forehead, and then makes it down to your neck. You swallow hard and wipe your neck.
“So, Tell me a little about yourself.” The interviewer says
like the answer is so obvious.
You fumble. What do they mean? What do they want from you?
Surely, they don’t want to know that you live off reality TV on your free time, or that you like to create dramatic stories on your blog? Why would they ask something so vague?
What do you do? How do you answer? Wait. How long has it been since she asked you the question?
Too long! Great! Now, you look stupid! This is where it ends! We’re done! They found us out!
They found out that we’re a phony just trying to get into the school. We just need this job for some extra side change. I don’t know!
Well, if the panic in your head ever went something a little close to that, you’re in the right place. That demand, because it certainly is not a question, gets to me too. So, I did my research.
The hiring managers want to know what you think is important, and how you react to a question that has no structure. Think about it. You are going to ask yourself what they want and tell them what you think is the most important.
That is both smart and kind of manipulative, but it is what it is. Here is what is actually supposed to happen:
Apparently, you can memorize your resume and recite it. But, that sounds a little unoriginal, so I wouldn’t. They probably already read your resume. Otherwise, why else are you there?
What will get you that spot at the school that you want is your personality. They’ve already seen your resume. Now, they want to see how you fit in with the culture of their institution. What are the details that were not on your resume?
Share some fun facts. A great way to be memorable is to share something unique. What’s something that is different about you?
They’ve probably interviewed a million people and this statement helps them to differentiate the candidates a little. Let them know your hobbies and passions. This might even be a way that you find you have something in common with your interviewer.
Let them know that you are not just a resume but a human too. Spill some information but don’t spill too much. Tell them something that looks great but may not necessarily fit into any category on your resume.
Maybe you teach yoga classes on the side, you coach a soccer team, or you’re head of your local cultural organization. Talk about your volunteer work.
If you are not at a religious or political institution, please avoid these topics completely. There’s no need to be controversial when it might cost you a job that you need.
If you are a student, what school do you attend? What schools have you attended in the past? What’s your major?
What have you done during your years at school? What experiences have you had that might be helpful for you at this new school or in this new job position?
This demand is so broad but, it can actually be kind of helpful once you know how you can answer.
So next time someone demands that you tell them about yourself, you can just smile and say, “I am a student at Elite University. I major in Greatness. When I’m not working or focusing on school, I like to learn new things. I love to learn new languages. I am currently learning Japanese. I enjoy health and nutrition science so, I read up a lot on that. I also run my own blog and volunteer at health clinics a couple times a year.” It does not have to be as complicated as you think.
Here are some other tips:
- Keep it short. Nobody has all day. Please! Do not tell your whole life story from birth until now.
- Don’t ask them what they want to hear. It makes it sound like you have no mind of your own and you will constantly be asking for direction. You want to seem somewhat self-directed.
- Tell them what you think may interest them. What are skills that you have that may be useful to them?
- Don’t make your spiel sound rehearsed. It should sound natural.
- Tailor your answer to the position you want.
I hope this helps you the next time some says the dreaded statement, “Tell me about yourself.” Now, go off and be great!
Happy April Fools Day, by the way! There will be no fooling from me today!
Thanks for Reading My Rant,
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