You arrive at the venue of interview, dressed and prepared to give it your best shot, you enter the room, after exchanging courtesies with the interviewer/s, you hand over your resume. And while still perusing through your skills and achievements, the ice-breaking question “Tell me something about yourself” is thrown at you. The butterflies in your stomach seem to come to a halt, and even though this is one of the interview questions that you alone can answer the best, you feel completely lost for a few seconds.
I can understand the nervousness that surrounds you, and that is why it is repeatedly advised that you practice all these frequently asked questions. In fact, about 99% of interviews begin with this question, for it is through this answer that interviewers try to get a preliminary understanding of the candidate. If you are to analyze carefully, this open-ended question happens to be one of the easiest questions asked, because, whether you know anything or not, you will surely know stuff about yourself that would interest the recruiter. Yet when your nerves start kicking in, you tend to lose control of the situation. Well, not any more, here are the ways you can get a grip over your nerves and answer this simple question with a simple yet impactful answer.
It is the simplicity of the question that poses to be the most massive problem in answering it; there are numerous ways you could reply to it, and that is where all the problem starts. You fail to decide how to respond. I would advise you to approach this question as your elevator pitch; this will help you keep your focus restricted. The truth that this could be your only chance to let the hiring manager know how you can add value to their company should be your driving force behind making that first impression count as good.
Therefore, fumbling, faultering and the worst of the lot, boring your interviewer are the things that should not appear in the vicinity at any cost. You have to prepare yourself well enough to appear strong, confident and convincing, all at the same time. So, during your preparation, consider using the bullet approach as opposed to the script approach. All the great speeches delivered by famous personalities that you have heard till date are a result of this technique. They do not have everything is written down in details, instead just a mention of the topics they want to talk about is made, and then take that up spontaneously from there. It prevents the answer from being rigid and lack originality and consequently succeeds in impressing the recruiters.
Now, then, let us quickly get to the methodology you should follow to make this a great answer to get the ball rolling for the ensuing questions. Design a remarkable response to this one of the most important interview questions in three steps. The first step is answering “Who you are?”. The reply to this part does not mean you take the recruiter through your resume, stating what all you achieved chronologically. That information has already been conveyed and is not required at the interview. What the person interviewing actually wants to know is about your present – what you are right now, at this moment. So that is where you focus on, your current position, instead of reiterating from your professional history.
If you have recently acquired an MBA, then your response could begin with something like, “Hi, I am a recent Columbia University MBA graduate with a strong background in the pharmaceutical industry.” Saying this you are clearly mentioning about your newly acquired qualification as well speaking of your key skill. Again if you are a higher level candidate, you could begin the answer by saying “I am an experienced HR who has successfully managed all areas of the job from recruiting new entrants, to training them, etc.” Here too you will notice, how, despite being concise, this statement makes it very clear for the recruiters to understand who you are. The bottom line is, you have to grab their attention by starting strong and not get into any unnecessary details, present only aspects of yourself as you want them to see you.
The second step is “Why you are qualified” – this part of the answer has to be under two minutes because you already know the recruiter does not have enough time. So think about a few points (before the interview) that will highlight your key skills, something that will invariably get noticed by the interviewer. Consider yourself to be the interviewer and then think, this seems to be more helpful. You could use the reverse chronological approach or merely bring some of your achievements with relevant skills into focus. Do not summarize your job duties; you have to substantiate your performance while mentioning the responsibility. For example “I have more than five years of experience as a manager at Wipro as a project manager. Most recently, I helped develop an award-winning new trading platform. Managing a team and solving issues of the customers are among the things I love doing at work.” When you plainly list the duties of a role in the past, you are only narrating that which every other employee at that position would do; you have to make yourself stand out from the rest, and so talk about your accomplishments, the credits that you acquired for bringing about a change.
The third and final step of answering one of the impertinent interview questions of all times is, “why you are here”. This part of the answer has to be pulled off in just one or two sentences and is your opportunity to express your excitement and enthusiasm of being able to make it to an interview with their organization. This is where you have to get all sweet! Tell them in short that though you are happy with your current place of work, yet you feel you are ready to take on more challenges which this company would be able to provide. Do not have to get into details and show off your research work on this organization; you will get time to do that later on.
Now that you have all the parts of the answer sorted, put it together and tailor an answer that will get the recruiter interested in you. Make this elevator pitch one in which you no longer remain under the dread of the interviewer; answering this question appropriately is one of the most useful things you can do at an interview. When you start strong, you get power and confidence as well as are capable of impressing your prospective employer at the first instance. Your response thus tailored, will leave the recruiter no other choice than giving you the job offer.