Why ask the question 'Tell me about yourself'

Why would an interviewer ask the question 'Tell me about yourself'.

Generally this is a ice-breaker question. This is probably the first or second question asked in every interview and the interviewer wants:

  • time to read your resume - he/she will go over it while you are delivering your answer.
  • check you communication skills - your entire interview is one big communication skills test, but this question sets the tone. The vocabulary you use, your tone, your fluency in the language, the pitch, the sentences and the logical flow of the answer, will tell the interviewer where you are (by and large) and he/she will then conduct the rest of the interview with that in mind.
  • find something interesting to for the next question - a lead for more information, if you will.
  • Some of them may even look for attributes like positivity, creativity, time management skills. (I will detail how to achieve these below)

    How to answer 'Tell me about yourself'

    In the past we have been of the opinion that you must not repeat what is on the resume, but call it experience or watching a lot more recruiters and HR heads at work, we have to say, we have changed our opinion.

    Most expect you to tell them (in a shorter/ crisper version) exactly what is written on the resume.  

    You should start with your education (schooling onwards - especially if you went to a top / 'A' school), move to your early years and then your recent work experience.

    What is important is that you do not repeat verbatim what is printed on the resume.  Take the form of a story with a little narrative and add things that may not be there.

    However, once the basics are done, we suggest you end with something that catches the eye or more aptly makes their ears stand up.  Finish off with a super sales performance mention or a skill set mention that you know they are looking for / hiring for.

     

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    Examples

    These are random examples.

    "I was always fascinated by hotels.  After my 12th from XYZ school, I secured admission at the prestigious ABC college.  Graduating in the top ten, I joined MNC company as a Management Trainee.  Over the last 5 years with them, I have had the privilege to lead XX people, create and launch YY."

    "I was recently awarded the MD's star for a developing a system that reduced complaint response times by 30%"