‘Tell me about yourself’: Your guide to the dreaded interview question

Your palms are sweaty but you are doing great in the interview so far. You just explained the last project you worked on and how exciting it was. Then the interviewer asks you that dreaded question.

‘Tell me something about yourself’.

Suddenly, you start to ask yourself existential questions- ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is my purpose?’

Whatever your purpose may be, you have to explain your life’s story in the next three minutes, knowing which details to leave out and which to share.  

What NOT to say in an interview. Source: GIPHY

To help you out on this, we spoke to HR professionals to know why they ask this question and what you should say in response.

Why even ask?

Kirti Metharu, an HR professional in a digital media company, said that the question is used to understand who you are as a person. While your resume and CV tell them who you are as a professional, the recruiter needs to know more before they can make a decision.

“When you hire someone, they don’t just become a part of the organisation but they are also now a part of everyone’s lives. They will have to work together and be in the same space for 10 to 12 hours a day so we have to understand the person before taking them on board,” Kirti explained.

Shreyansh Sanghani, founder of SKS Enterprises which specialises in IT and Finance recruitment, said that the question also helps assess if the candidate is a good fit for the role.

“For example, if I am looking to hire someone for the marketing or sales team, I would look for someone who seems outgoing and extroverted. In these roles, you need people who can talk and can build relationships instantly,” Shreyansh explained.

Alright. Now what do I say?

Make them sit up and listen. Source: GIPHY

Shreyansh advices that you should begin with your family. “You can start by talking about your family. You should talk about what you have been doing and where you envision yourself. It is also very important to talk about your strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

You need to be diplomatic yet honest, Shreyansh said.

Kirti urges people not to restate what you have already put down in your CV. “People tend to repeat what they have already written in their CV. Instead, talk about your family and your interests, your strengths and your weaknesses,” Kirti said.

When she doesn’t get the answer she is looking for, Kirti said that she often probes further by asking the candidate about a difficult situation they faced and how they got through it.

So next time you get that question, you know what to say!

And here’s an extra tip from Shreyansh!  

“If the recruiter asks you who you admire, it is always better to talk about someone in your family. If you say Bill Gates and you are not able to answer any follow-up questions about his work, it will not reflect well,” Shreyansh said.

At Northbound, we want to help people make more informed choices about their careers and professional lives. The average person is said to spend 90,000 hours of their life at work. That’s a lot of precious time to spend being unhappy or unfulfilled. Be it your first career decision, switching to a new field or exploring an entrepreneurial journey, we want to help you make better decisions and inspire you to find your path! Follow us to never miss a new story!

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