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Tell Me About Yourself? Why Is This Question Asked In An Interview?

This is so often the first question asked in an interview. It may not be worded exactly like this, but in one form or another, many if not most interviews start this way.

Knowing this question is coming, why do most candidates get so frustrated answering this question?

It is, for the most part, a break the ice question

It gets the candidate talking, gives time for everyone to relax, is wide open, and generally a meaningless question. However, just because it is meaningless, doesn't mean you can ignore it. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for you to engage the interviewer.

You have a golden opportunity to hit the salient points in your background, open a discussion around what defines success in this role, and to get the interviewer excited about this interview.

In our opinion this should be a short 2 minute, so well rehearsed answer, that is doesn't appear to be rehearsed. This is not the time to give your autobiography, go over every position in your background or bore the interviewer with a long winded answer.

In most cases, the interviewer is using this to simply start the conversation. They aren't looking for a complex or even complete answer. They just want a quick overview. That is it.

We recommend starting with your most relevant position and hit the accomplishments that closely relate to the position. It is even acceptable to outline some of your current responsibilities, organization, relevant company information, products or services, and basic duties. The goal is to give the interviewer the information they need to better understand how your company, industry, experiences and organization aligns with theirs.

This is not the time to give a lot of information that doesn't align with the company. For example, if the company is a small entrepreneurial company, it would be a fatal mistake to highlight your experience in a large Fortune 500 company, that you managed a staff of 30 people, and your department budget was bigger than the company's sales last year.

A better answer would be to highlight a past company similar in size that you enjoyed working at, felt more fulfilled by the impact you made, preferred the ability to be hands-on and what you did to contribute to the growth of the company. This better aligns with the interviewer's needs.

You should have a number of canned, well rehearsedComputer Technology Articles, thoughtful answers to this question. This is your opportunity to start the interview on the best footing for you.

We encourage your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

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