At some point in any interview you are almost guaranteed to get asked this question, and often it is the first one tossed at you. As with the start of any relationship you genuinely want to know who you are getting involved with so it is natural this question will arise. An important factor to remember when you are being interviewed is that you are beginning a professional relationship. It is great to be yourself and have your personality shine through the formalities however you may want to think about how to answer this question long before your interview. Being caught off guard with this question may leave your interviewer with the wrong impression as you may babble on for too long or talk about things that are irrelevant to who you are as a professional. This question serves the purpose of getting to know you better as an individual but is not a gateway to talk about your personal and most intimate details.
Steve Rosen, Principal , at PTC Accounting & Finance shares his views on this question;
“ ‘Tell Me About Yourself’– The client started with the oldest question in the book…. and I was reminded that there is a reason it is the oldest question in the book! A candidate can get themselves in so, much, trouble with this open ended question. They can talk too long, reveal too much, go down a rat hole…. Client will judge the candidates communication skills, priorities, judgment, a whole lot of things, from how this question is answered.'”
So what is the solution? There is no definite way to answer this question as it really should be tailored to who you are and it really isn’t something you want to answer that sounds like it is scripted. In representing many professionals here at PTC we recommend that candidates prepare themselves for this question in advance. Keep it short and to the point. Think of three or four areas that would best describe to someone who you are as a professional. Where did you go to school and what degrees/designations do you have? What positions have you held and what companies have you most recently worked at? The reasons why you are interviewing for his job?
It seems as though most people overly concern themselves with saying the “right” things in interviews but it is important to remember that your main goal should not be getting the job. It should be fitting into the perfect role! So… try and be prepared to answer this question at your next interview because although your interests in purple unicorns may be interesting to some, it really doesn’t have any merit as to who you are professionally.
Make only 3 or 4 points, then stop and ask “Does that give you what you need”?
Include something unique about you
If you have something personal that is unusual , memorable, or impressive use it (I have climbed 5 of the 7 highest peaks in the world, and am planning number 6) But if you don’t, do not force it (I enjoy walks in the park and reading).