Author Topic: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...  (Read 2346 times)

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Iris W

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"Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« on: December 20, 2013, 09:47:09 PM »
What can I say to this?  :o I always end up talking about my qualifications and volunteering, but I've usually already covered that in other questions.
 :)

KB

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2013, 10:07:58 PM »
I suggest you check out suggested responses here and here. The first website is particularly useful for all sorts of interview- and application-relate questions.

TootsNYC

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2013, 11:44:33 AM »
That answer (both are the same article, just published in different places) starts from the assumption that it comes early in the interview.

But our OP said, "I've usually already covered that." So she's apparently getting it later in the process.

But I vote to keep it business.

Maybe now's the time to talk about why you like that job (though in my interviews, I start with that question; but I'm unusual in that, I hear). How does it interact nicely with your preferences, personality, preferences, etc.? So you're revealing something about you -personally- and internally, but it's all related to the job, the mission, the tasks, the company you're interviewing with.

Zizi-K

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2013, 12:57:59 PM »
I wonder if the question then really means, "tell me something not on your resume." or "tell me something that will allow me to remember you as an actual person and not a list of qualifications." or "tell me something that will allow me to ascertain how you'll fit in with the office culture."

So, if you were applying for a job at Vogue magazine, maybe you talk about the time you camped out overnight to score HotAccessory. If you're applying for a job at a nonprofit, maybe you tell a brief story about your childhood that sheds light on why you're so committed to the mission. If you're applying to a job that doesn't require such personal commitment, you talk about your favorite hobby or the amazing trip you took after college and something you learned from it.

SciFiLeslie

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2013, 01:56:56 PM »
I had a similar question (they had asked for something "interesting" about me) on an electronic application and really had to wonder what to put.  All my qualifications and work experience were covered in other fields.  I decided to go with this:  There is not a copy machine or fax machine I can't unjam with enough patience and a good letter opener.

Sad to say I did not get a call for an interview so maybe I went with the wrong reply.

mechtilde

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2013, 02:46:19 PM »
Try to have a response thought out in advance, using the person specifications as a guideline. I tend to think of it as being a bit like the "addition information" section on an application form. It's your chance to introduce yourself showing the skills you have as a potential employee. Going through chronologically is the way I do it, but you don't need to stick to that if another works better.
NE England

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2013, 03:16:43 PM »
The question sounds like a "get to know you better" thing.  When there are multiple qualified applicants, the job will probably go to the best fit personality-wise.

You could make a short list of positive quirky things about yourself that wouldn't otherwise get mentioned.  Things like you love bluegrass music or collect can openers or love to read history books.

The question could also be used to mention your social strengths. Things like: 
"I enjoy getting to know people, and I often turn into the social coordinator of the groups I work in." 
"I'm very independent, but I've enjoyed the group projects I've worked on." 
"I'm enthusiastic and like learning new things."
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TootsNYC

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2013, 03:29:19 PM »
I wonder if the question then really means, "tell me something not on your resume." or "tell me something that will allow me to remember you as an actual person and not a list of qualifications." or "tell me something that will allow me to ascertain how you'll fit in with the office culture."

So, if you were applying for a job at Vogue magazine, maybe you talk about the time you camped out overnight to score HotAccessory. If you're applying for a job at a nonprofit, maybe you tell a brief story about your childhood that sheds light on why you're so committed to the mission. If you're applying to a job that doesn't require such personal commitment, you talk about your favorite hobby or the amazing trip you took after college and something you learned from it.

This is a really great suggestion.


SciFiLeslie, I like your reply! It would count as a mark in the plus column if I saw it. It shows intiative, an organized brain, and a willingness to solve problems.

cicero

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2013, 07:19:06 AM »
urgh i hate that question! (right alongside "what are your weak points"). it's fine if it comes at the beginning of the interview, but at the end?

i always think of interview questions as not *just* a way to get info about you (because, after all, it's in your CV), but (a) a way to see how *you* as a person meshes with the department and (b) see how you deal with curveballs. You know - you were expecting this question at the beginning, now you have already gone over the "who you are", so now what?

I think this particular question is really your chance to make your "mission statement", so to speak. this is not just about the "on paper qualifications" that you bring to the job (which presumably the other hundreds of applicaants have), but more of a "why you should hire *me* and not them" statement. so think - yes, you've written in your resume that you know how to use program XYZ to do presentations. maybe now you can tell them that you love it so much that you've taught your kid's class to use it and they catalogued their class library. or you used it at home to keep track of your CDs. Or your resume states that you can translate from Sanskrit to English - now you can tell them about the year you spent in an ashram being immersed not only in the lanugage but also the culture. or you volunteer once a week at a homeless shelter and you've revamped their security system. or something. 

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Venus193

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2013, 08:41:24 AM »
I have always -- perhaps mistakenly -- regarded this as a trick question designed to expose weaknesses or personal information the interviewer is not entitled to know.  Posting for others' opinions.

Ezeesee

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2013, 09:27:48 AM »
I had an interview a couple of months ago where I was asked this question, for the first time ever. It completely threw me, had no idea how to answer and considered it (and still think this now) that it's invasive and rude.

It was asked at the beginning of the interview, but I knew that questions about skills and qualifications would be coming so didn't want to repeat myself later, but also couldn't go with "Well, I born in a small town and . . . ". It was an internal interview, so it wasn't as high stakes as if I was going into a new company and they did offer me the job so I can't have messed it up that badly!

I think I just don't understand what any interviewer is hoping to get out of this question? I've been asked strange questions at interviews before ("What would you do if you had a magic wand?" one of the weirdest ones), but this one is just so open-ended. At the interview I mentioned, they ended by asking what I like to do in my free time and picked up on a couple of hobbies I'd mentioned on my application form - they got to see that I could be friendly and willing to talk, so would probably fit in with the office culture without it sounding quite so much like a speeddating question as "Tell me about yourself".

bopper

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2013, 10:30:19 PM »
It could also be a way to screen out applicants if they starting divulging odd habits...

Library Dragon

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2013, 11:24:56 PM »
It could also be a way to screen out applicants if they starting divulging odd habits...

This.

I don't ask this question, but a few others that are more conversational. If applicants start ranting (and it happens) about topic X or that they spend every Tuesday night performing Y hobby and it's central to their lives. Wait, applicants just said they are available to work Tuesday evenings. Is that true and how soon will there be a request to change schedules?

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Raintree

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2013, 11:35:30 PM »
I'm not an interviewer but I would see the question as an attempt to get a picture of the person as a whole and not just a collection of qualifications. I love to travel, I read books on X, Y, and Z, I have six kids, I'm an avid widget collector with a strong interest in widget history, and on the weekends I like to pursue my interest in gardening.

But of course, nothing that might imply that you won't be able to do the job.

PastryGoddess

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Re: "Tell me about yourself" in job interviews...
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2013, 12:56:09 AM »
I usually talk about my volunteer work and my hobbies outside of work.  I think it lets potential employers know that I am well rounded and it also give people something to remember me by.  YMMV