Tell me About Yourself: Tricky Interview Questions

Graduate jobs

July 04, 2020

One of the most frequently asked interview questions is “Tell me about yourself.” On the face of it, the question is a fairly simple inquisition. However, the answer to this can be so subjective in its content as well as format, that thinking of an appropriate answer can be challenging.

It is wise to prepare beforehand for such questions. Let’s have a look:


What is the purpose of the question?


When employers ask this question, it’s mostly as an ice-breaker, as something that can help them ease into the conversation. The interviewer is interested to know about your background, interests and qualifications. 

But your response also sets the tone for the rest of the interview. 

So make sure you don;t focus too much on personal information – instead, talk about your career story. 


How can you answer?


Tell a tale

The best bet is to create a strong story around your career and professional interests. 

Use the formula Present + Past + Future as a guiding tool. 

This question is a great opportunity for you to fill the blank slate. Share what you’re currently up to in your life (the degree you’re pursuing, the extra-curriculars you take or the part-time jobs you do, but limit these details to only the ones germane for the position you’re being interviewed for)


Show your soft skills, work experience and from there, launch into a pitch for your future plans. Show how the role fits in your plans and you also make a great fit for the role.  


Tailor your answer to the company and position

Don’t keep a template or generic answer for this. Customise your answer to highlight the specific skills and experiences that would count towards your suitability for the role. 


Stick to the professional details

Telling you’re close to your family and/or friends is a great conversation, but when you have to squeeze everything about you in 2 minutes, it’s advisable to choose wisely what you share. 


Pick 2/3 anecdotes or successes or milestones that you’d like to emphasise on, expound on them and talk at length about how you overcame a challenge and became victorious.  


Be on-point

You should tell your story, but there’s no need to exaggerate. Stick to the facts, connect the dots and provide a clear beginning, middle and end to your anecdotes. 

Avoid getting distracted or sidetracked, avoid rambling and avoid digressions at all costs. 

At the same time, don’t just parrot whatever’s on your resume. Add a personal touch to your professional journey – tell them how you felt and how you dealt with it. Exhibit resilience, patience, hard work, discipline, rigour – these are the interpersonal skills that stand out. 


First impressions are important. This question is loaded with the expectations of a great first impression. Make sure you keep it upbeat, informative and personal. 


Photo by Jules Bss on Unsplash


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