What interviewer is trying to judge
Sometimes—even knowing that you should avoid addressing personal information and that your response to “Tell Me About Yourself” or similar open-ended questions need to be carefully planned—it can be hard to get started. To keep you on track, here are few questions to ask as you brainstorm ways to respond and structure your answer:
- What qualities make you a great fit for this position? Think of what makes you stand out as a job applicant for this role. Perhaps it’s your years of experience or some highly desired specialization, training or technical skills. Review the job description closely and note the ways by which you exceed the requirements.
- Why are you interested in the role? Brainstorm why this position excites you, how it fits into your larger career goals and why you feel it’s the best next step.
- Why are you interested in the company or the industry? After you’ve spent time researching the company and the industry, you should have a better sense of the mission, goals, and trends impacting the industry. Do these align with the professional goals that you’ve set for yourself? What do you like and respect about the company as a whole? What excites you about the future of the industry? As you start building your story, tie together similarities among your professional goals, the future vision of the company and industry trends you feel are especially important.
- With all the above in mind, ask yourself, What is a positive trait or characteristic that I’ve had for a long time that will serve me well in this role? For example, have friends or colleagues described you as especially organized, curious, entrepreneurial or generous? Think about how you’ve thought of yourself or how others have seen you. Then think of recent examples from your life when you embodied that characteristic.
Tips on what to include and what to avoid
1. Choose the Right Starting Point for Your Story (IMPORTANT)
2. Highlight Impressive Experience and Accomplishments
- Cut costs X%.
- Raised quality X%.
- Increased revenue by X%.
- Trained X employees.
- Saved X hours per week.
- Received X professional award.
- Boosted customer review scores X%.
- Slashed waste X%.
3. Conclude by Explaining Your Current Situation
4. Keep Your Answer Work-Related
5. Be Concise When Answering (2 Minutes or Less!)
Things to avoid
- Avoid mentioning personal information such as marital status, children, political or religious affiliations, etc. These can be highly sensitive topics that might work against you as a candidate. Such details should not be factors for the employer in determining your ability to perform the job.
- Don’t list multiple, vague strengths without supporting examples. Instead, you may want to choose two or three qualities about yourself. Support each with short, polished stories that can be substantiated by your work experience.
- Don’t summarise your resume word for word. Instead, discuss high points that are relevant to the position.
- Don’t rush into conversations regarding what you’re looking for in the role or how the company can benefit you. Save such topics for the final stages of the interview process when they are “sold” on you as a candidate and you have more leverage.
Sample Answer for a Software Tester
“Firstly, thank you very much for giving me this golden opportunity. I am Sapna Sharma. My father, Mr. Shyam Sharma is a teacher and my mother a homemaker. I have 2 other siblings and they are still in school. I completed my engineering from Annamalai University in 2014 and since then, I have been working as a software tester. During my under graduation, I completed several projects on testing, where I excelled in my work and even got certificates for the same. Now, I am interested in expanding my career graph by joining your reputed organization as a software tester where I also look forward to attaining people management opportunity in my area of work.”
How Possibly an Academician cum Trainer Could Answer this Question
An Answer Fit for a Professional with around 5 Years of Experience
“Hi, I am Manisha Singh. If you talk about my educational background, I completed my Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2006. After that, I changed my line of profession and got into writing for the English language always remained my first love. I started writing for a news magazine following which I got involved in some serious kind of writing. I started preparing resumes, essays, and statements of purpose for students aspiring to go abroad for higher education. I supplemented this with blog writing where I gained exposure in online content. Working in all these spheres gave me an overall experience in the field of content creation and editing to enhance which, I am looking to join your organization for the further development of my skills.”
A Software Engineer’s Answer to the Question
An HR Professional’s Take on the Question
How to Mould the Answer for a Sales Executive
“Being part of Sales team at I for over 4 years gave I was a part of sales team for 3 years in Talent Plus Plus, Gurgaon. My efforts increased the sales by 40% grew the customer base in the Northeast. Sportspersons are given a lot of weightage in this company and I am very much interested in football. I have also played at national level and was involved in coaching. It is important to me the company holds the same values.”
How a Sales Supervisor’s Answer Possibly Could Look Like
“My name is Gaurav Dev. I am from Noida. I have worked for 3 years in Mamsys Technologies as a Sales Supervisor. During this stint, my responsibilities included selling computers and its parts along with which, I have also had the opportunity of managing a 5-member team. I would like to emphasise on the fact that my team has always outperformed other teams and managed to spike the sales volume every quarter. For this, I as well as my team have received several awards also. Thus, my qualification and background as a reliable resource to my past company makes me a suitable candidate for the position of a Sales Manager at your reputed firm.”
“I am a self-starter with strong interpersonal skills. I work efficiently both as an individual contributor as well as along with a team. I seek new challenges and try to think out-of-the-box while looking for creative solutions to a given problem. Besides the details given in my resume, I believe in character, values, vision, and action. I am a quick learner and believe in learning from my mistakes for I strongly feel that this virtue will take me ahead in life and career.”
“I can sum up my entire personal and professional life in three words – I can win! My dad and my current boss, both would vouch for the fact that I have a havoc wrecking never-say-die spirit! It is impossible to subdue me, no matter what. I also make sure that this attitude becomes contagious within my team. Some of my colleagues say that I encourage my teammates as a football coach during crunched situations!”
“I am a dynamic figure. In my mind, I am often climbing mountains and crushing huge icebergs under my pirate ship! I have been known to remodel the electricity supply system of the entire city during lunch breaks. In my free time, I compose poetry or paint, which shows that I am an artistic person who can also manage free time efficiently! I agree that I love to work hard, but I am also a social butterfly and can party all day and night long for two days in a row! I am a great cook too and can stir up my favorite thirty-minute pasta dish in under fifteen minutes. I am an expert roller skater having performed at several Skate Shows and won a handful of them. I am also an automobile maniac and a gadget freak. Honestly, I love this question and can talk for hours about myself but I feel I should stop now. :)”
“I am an abstract artist, a civil engineer at heart, and a ruthless bookworm. I have a great dressing sense and I love to follow fashion trends closely. Being a cleanliness freak, I like to keep my den and my work desk spic and span at all times. I am not an outgoing person, and love to stay indoors with a book instead of partying in a regular weekend. I love my pets, yes I have four dogs and they are my family now. If I do go out, I prefer to go on solo trips. Last summer I toured the entire East and West Malaysia. I have a weakness for fresh flowers, which obviously means that gardening is my hobby.”
“I am a sportswoman (man) at heart. I can hurl a tennis racket, a cricket bat and even a golf chipper at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. The laws of physics do not apply to me! I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket, yes I am a diehard foodie. While on vacation I strictly follow a well thought out budget to travel as long as possible, which means I have great negotiation skills. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in half and full marathons. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a rice cooker and a toaster oven! I have won cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at New Delhi.”
“Hi, I am Shakeel. I am from Delhi. I completed my English Honors from Hindu College which is affiliated to Delhi University. I completed my twelfth grade from Delhi Public School with 89% from CBSE Boards. My family includes my father who is an engineer, my mother who is a lawyer and my brother who is pursuing his MS in Computer Science from Cornell University. I love playing chess and have represented my school in various district and state level chess competitions. I am also a part of Rotary Club where I have participated in community service at various schools teaching the underprivileged and visiting a number of old age homes. Being part of the Rotary Club has given me a different perspective of life which makes me appreciate what I am and where I am.”