“Tell me about yourself” is probably one of the most common questions people encounter during interviews. Almost everyone gets asked this question, and most of the time this question comes first.
The truth is, “tell me about yourself” is a pretty tricky question, especially because it sets the tone for the interview and it influences your interviewer’s first impression of you, big time. If there’s a right way to answer this question, there’s also a wrong way.
Here are some things you probably shouldn’t do at your interview or in other words, here are the worst ways to answer the question “tell me about yourself.”
Being too personal – “I’m 21, and I have never had a romantic relationship ever.”
It’s possible that you might be nervous and that’s completely normal, but try not to be that person who overcompensates for their nerves by saying absolutely everything they can think of – even things that have no relation whatsoever to the question at hand. The question asks you to describe yourself with respect to your achievements and the position you are applying for, not your current relationship status. Filipinos may love show business but not in the interview room.
Overselling yourself – “I have handled over 20 projects for different organizations, and I was always one of the best leaders of our school.”
We’ve all done something that we’re proud of but that’s no excuse to oversell. Overselling yourself may come across as being arrogant. They could think of you “the kid who thinks too much of himself.” Interviewers can smell “oversellers”, they know when what you’re saying is true or is an exaggeration. Find that fine line between giving them enough reasons to hire you and giving them a reason to think of you as arrogant. Once you find it, don’t cross it.
The thing about lying in an interview is that you won’t be able to keep up with your lies. Interviews can take an hour long and spinning a web of lies might trap you. If you’ve ever watched Confessions of A Shopaholic you’ll probably vaguely remember the main character, Becky, saying that she could speak Finnish. Surprise surprise, she couldn’t. A few scenes later, that lie came back to her. This doesn’t just happen in the movies. Moral of the story, don’t tell other people you can do something/you’ve done something if you can’t.
Making excuses – “I didn’t make it to the dean’s list because I was focused on starting my own business.”
Some people like to add in the “I would have been ______ if not for ________” during the tell me about yourself part.
Making excuses makes it sound like you’re trying to cover up for something, or that you’re discontent with you’re achievements. Excuses make you sound bitter, insecure, and like you’re overcompensating. Try your best to be upfront with what you have achieved, and if they ask, that’s when you can perhaps tell a story or two of how you ended up achieving those things.
Talking too much
Keep your answers short and sweet. You’ll have more time to talk about yourself in the next hour or so.
Do you have other suggestions to put down on this list? Let us know in the comments below.