Tell me something about yourself...

By Harish Bhardwaj

This is the most common first question in any interview. Despite knowing this, a lot of job aspirants stutter and stammer while answering this question. But how — when it comes to talking about oneself, there can be no one to do that job better than you, isn’t it?

Just imagine this situation: a lecturer shares the question paper a day in advance to the exam with all the students. Later, when he sits to correct the exam papers, to his surprise, he notices that all the students have fared very badly, despite the question paper being leaked.

In the above situation, would the lecturer be wrong in assuming that the students had no interest in the exam which explains that they didn’t learn the answers? No, not at all. Similarly, despite all job aspirants knowing what the first question is going to be, when they fail to respond in a well-prepared manner, the interviewer has all the reasons to assume that the aspirant has little or no interest in the job he has applied for.

So, as the first step towards faring well in the HR round of interviews, you must prepare a good introduction that could help you attract questions from the interviewer’s area of interest. More often than not, the usual flow of data is: Name – Father’s name – Mother’s name – percentages of Xth, XIIth and graduation – project details – a list of strengths (eg hard working, excellent communication skills etc.) hobbies and then an awkward silence.

If you look at all the above fields, none of them can trigger an element of interest in the minds of the interviewer, who would already be bored with the scores of people talking about the same thing over and over again. Hence, he/she is then forced to think about what to ask next, making the silence even more awkward and scary. This can be avoided. Instead of the regular set of information that everyone has, if your flow is more like: Name – a little about your family and what are the traits you have picked from them – positives from school and college life – YOUR role in the project you took up and why did you choose to do that – what do you enjoy doing and how does your hobby help you satisfy that, be sure that you’ll have the interviewer hooked on to every line! By the time you share these details, a few good traits would have already emerged. This kind of an introduction also increases the chances of the interviewer asking questions related to what you shared compared to the earlier format.
Remember, no one likes skeletal and jerky answers. It could be your teacher, interviewer or even your colleagues at work. Ensure that you add a bit more meat to your answers with examples and anecdotes to keep the interviewer from falling asleep and eventually rejecting you. Package your introduction well.

All of us enjoy conversations and hate answering questions – right? So, your first attempt is to take the interview closer to a conversation and away from a rapid fire question answer session. Suppose an interview lasts for 15 mins and your answers are very short or monosyllables lasting a few seconds, try and guess how many questions the interviewer will have to ask to make the interview last the stipulated 15 minutes? This is exactly when the interviewer starts to slowly dislike the candidate. Instead, if the interview is a nice conversation where you share your facts and interest and in-turn respond to questions based on them – you will feel much more in control of the interview.

The few simple things an HR personnel tries to check through the interview are:
1. How much importance are/would you give to the job opportunity
2. How committed /motivated /driven you are
3. Whether you fit the culture of the organization

So, before you answer any of the questions try to understand why the question is being asked. No question is asked without a purpose. Interviewers are busy people, so they wouldn’t shoot questions that would waste their time and yours. Before answering any question, you should understand whether this question is to check factor 1, factor 2 or factor 3. Now lets take a few question samples.

Q. What do you see yourself doing 4 years from now?
Ans. I see myself as an MBA graduate from XYZ institute and working as a manager in a reputed organization.
Anything wrong with the answer? No? Now, let us interpret the same answer from the interviewer’s point of view. To have finished your MBA in 4 years, you will have to start the course in the second year. Which means the candidate is looking to work only for the next two years. In that case it doesn’t make any sense for the company to hire the person – train him for 6-8 months for him to leave at the end of 2 years. So the obvious verdict – rejected!

Do you see how a simple question, to which the candidate gave an honest answer helped the interviewer make the big decision of rejecting him? So, from now on, whenever you appear for an interview, first prepare a good and relevant introduction. Second make sure you understand the motive behind the specific question and the most important – try to look at your answers from the interviewer’s perspective.


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