The first question you can expect during any interview will be 'Tell me something about yourself?' as this is the favourite question of the interviewers. This usually is a question which is meant to break the ice and set the ball rolling for the interview. Below are some of the key pointers which should be kept in mind while answering the most expected first question:
1. Keep it short and simple (KISS)
Your answer to the question should not exceed 120 seconds. Try to keep it concise and crisp to have maximum impact. Also, try not to repeat a lot of things which are already written in your resume in order to save time. You can begin answering this question by providing some information about yourself, educational qualifications, work experience and technologies you have worked or projects you are currently working upon.
2. Mention your academic highlights and achievements
You can mention your highest academic qualifications and achievements in areas that you excelled in. For example, I was among the merit holders of the college, or I was the marketing club’s president, or the placement coordinator of my batch, or the convener of the tech fest, etc. You can take 15-20 seconds to elucidate upon such roles as it shows initiative on your part - something which the interviewers are always looking for in a candidate.
3. Discuss your past work experience
While discussing your work experience, don’t delve into the specifics of your work, instead highlight your major accomplishments/awards. For example, if you were in sales, your could say - “In my previous role, I worked as a sales manager and increased the overall sales of the product/company by Y%”. Remember to not get into details, as the interviewer will lose interest, while make sure that you highlight the impact of your previous work.
4. Talk about the hurdles you overcame
Try to engage the panelists by pinpointing some of the challenges you faced while trying to achieve your goals – without giving away too many details. You can talk about an instance where you hit a roadblock and explain how you resolved it with your capabilities and skills. The story could be from work, academics or personal life, but this section needs to be the most impactful one in your entire ‘Tell me something about yourself?’ monologue.
5. Speak about what kind of a person you are
When discussing your qualities such as leading from front, problem solving, attention to detail and other skills, cite specific examples from your life to prove why you are the best candidate for the role. Your answer must be tailored to the interview you are giving, and the skills needed for the role. The killer combination of ‘examples’ and ‘specific answers to the interview role’ will fetch you brownie points over other candidates because this depicts the homework and preparation done by you.
6. Steer the interview in your favor
You can decide the direction in which your interview should proceed. Make sure you give the interviewers, points for questioning on things you are comfortable answering. In this way you can lead them in the questioning direction, for which you have already prepared. The trick to creating a great first impression is to know where to put the full stop and drive the interview in the direction you are most comfortable with. For e.g. “Recently, I designed and developed a website using Python, CSS and HTML. It was a great first time experience for me which I thoroughly enjoyed too.” After this, there is a 95% certainity that the interviewer is going to question you on the above-mentioned technologies. So, this is how you point your interview in the right path.
For smarter preparation, we've provided a collection of videos which give you additional insight into how one should answer the Tell me about yourself? question in an interview professionally and with confidence.