No interview seems complete without that ubiquitous opening question.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Even the best of us have botched up the response to this question at one point or the other.
Before diving into how to answer this question, let’s understand why this question is evergreen.
This is how 99% of interviewers ease into the interview.
It’s the ice breaker.
Most of the time, the interviewer may have stepped out of a previous business meeting and directly into the interview.
They’ll need to get their bearings, orient themselves, and figure out what questions to ask next.
This opening question is a great way to do all that.
How should you, as the interviewee, tackle the answer to this question?
- Use the PPF format
- Present – Give a quick intro of what you do now and your most recent accomplishment. Bonus points if you can add a hook to this answer to keep the interviewer interested till the end. For instance, “in my current role as the community development manager for my edtech firm, I developed a new model to drive engagement up by 20%. How I did it is actually a fun story, and I’ll come back to it in a minute.”
- Past – Give a 5-10 min rundown of what you did professionally in the past to reach the point at which you are today. Do not dive too much into details at this stage. Leave the interviewer wanting more.
- Future – End your answer by talking about your immediate future ambitions and why this current role you’re interviewing for fits the bill. The interviewer should be clear about why is it that it makes sense for her to be talking to you today.
- Tailor your answers
- Make a loose skeleton of your answer and memorise it so it rolls off your tongue easily. In the high pressure situation of an interview, this will help prevent freezing up.
- But do not give a boilerplate answer each time. Leave enough room in the framework of your answer to weave in examples or work stories that tie back into the key skills mentioned in the JD.