Interviews are always better handled when you properly prepare yourself. You anticipate every oddball question that could be thrown at you until one seemingly innocent question throws you off track: “Tell me a bit about yourself.” Well, you know, I’m the best guy for the job, and I need this job so bad. You can read the qualifications and work experience on my resume. Why don’t you just read it? Nope. That’s not the way to go about it.
What’s the point?
Understand the question’s relevance. It’s open-ended. It’s the beginning of a conversation. The interviewer wants to know who you are and understand a bit of your character through your answer. Not only by the words you use but by how you answer, your posture, your intonations, your body language. An open-ended question is perfect for revealing the person who’s sitting in front of you. As a side note, you can try this out for yourself the next time you meet someone new.
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First, let’s look at some of the ways you should not answer. Some people find this question irritating. That’s not a good frame of mind to be in. You could say that all the information is right there on the resume. But the interviewer knows that, right? That means they want to have a conversation about you, with you. So a verbatim response with the information given in the resume is a strict “no.” Neither should you go to the other extreme, and talk about your desires to get the job, to fulfill your dreams, etc. The interviewer is interested in what you can do for the company.
How should you go about it? Your response should not last more than a minute. Start with what you have done, and end with what you want to do. That’s it. It must be like a bullet-form conversation. State only things that showcase your attributes, your skillset and experience, and your achievements. Your answer must be extremely relevant and to-the-point. If you want, you can briefly go into particular things you want to accomplish through your employment with that company.
But remember to be brief. When you do this properly, it arouses the interest of the interviewer. This particular answer sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. This is like a trailer of your work history, and where it’s heading. So the better the trailer, the more eager will be the person to watch the full show. Hence, you must deliberately cut short details. And build up some intrigue. When you do that properly, the interviewer will be fascinated to know more. Remember, he or she might be sitting in that chair and going through resumes and candidates all day long. They need something interesting, a bit of character.
“I grew up in the suburbs of New York. Did my Bachelor’s in Commerce over in Dublin, Ireland. Worked for a bit with the accounting firm XYZ in London before moving stateside. The culture of business is different on both continents. When in London, I was the second-highest performing salesperson, and helped to introduce new product lines in South East England. This territory was unexplored till then. Based on my feedback with long-term customers, the company started research on 2 new products. When I quit, my team was the top-performing in all of the UK. I’m confident that I can do the same for your establishment, if given the opportunity.”
Of course, you might not have all the stellar accomplishments, but whatever you have, say it with earnest. Keep in mind that they don’t care about the actual words you use. The interviewer’s main concern is the benefit their company gets by hiring you.
Wait for it
Once you’ve said your bit, you need to keep quiet and wait for them to ask for specific details. When they do, you know that you’ve made an impression. Now, fill in the details. Always wait for the interviewer to ask for more before giving it to them.
This bit of info can be useful for you in many situations. Tweak it a bit and you’re all set for impromptu meetings, social gatherings, and even dates. This is your brief bio. Interested people will ask for more.