'Tell me about yourself': What to say and how to say it

T-Mag Thursday 13/December/2018 09:53 AM
By: Times News Service
'Tell me about yourself': What to say and how to say it

“Tell me about yourself!” Those who’ve been to an interview, sometime or the other have encountered this question or at least some variation of it. The manner in which we respond to this seemingly unassuming question can propel us towards new opportunities by creating a great first impression. Yet many are overwhelmed, and often give a muddled response, derailing chances of success.
Why is this question a challenge to answer? Perhaps because it has a wide breadth of responses, and we don’t know what the person wants to hear. Also, the openness of the question makes it difficult to provide a succinct response. It has no boundaries, so this could mislead us into saying things we shouldn’t.
This question is usually designed to see how you display self-confidence, and what you bring to the table. Interviewers do expect you to be nervous, but what they want to see is your belief in yourself and your ability to do the job. It’s important to articulate information in a way that doesn’t sound like a narration of your resume verbatim. Offering some information that goes beyond the facts in your resume, or that isn’t obvious from your resume, can be appealing.
Yet, there is no right or wrong way to answer this question. For example, some interviewers will expect self promotion, so a direct approach may impress. However, such an approach can come across as conceit, for an interviewer who prefers a more modest approach.
A ‘safe’ approach therefore, is to be neither too direct, nor overly personal. A useful structure is to focus on your Capability (your abilities and potential), Commitment (your desire and willingness to achieve and excel), and Credentials (qualifications and achievements). Since this question is generally asked after the initial pleasantries, repeating a greeting and your name again may be both unnecessary and awkward.

Here are examples of how to use the 3Cs structure:
With experience:
Thank you for your interest.
I’m a talent enabler who specialises in designing and delivering bespoke behavioural skills solutions. My previous roles in training and development have sharpened my capability to devise learning strategies that facilitate performance improvement and oversee their successful implementation.
I’m known to be someone who is punctual and prepared. I’ve never missed a deadline. The client satisfaction scores you see on my resume are the highest, because clients say that I bring a lot of energy to my job and that I’m always supportive of their needs, even if it means delivering on an extra service request, or going beyond the hour.
I was recently awarded for best skills coaching by the World HRD Congress. Besides this, my qualifications in instructional design, organisational development, and leadership coaching, together with over 25 years of professional experience, I believe, makes me an ideal candidate for this position. Is there something in particular about what I’ve shared that you’d like me to elaborate on?
Without experience:
Thank you for the opportunity.
I’m a recent graduate with a degree in Business Administration. My academic results show that I have a strong aptitude in Analytics and Information systems.
I’m a quick learner. I was able to learn and create a project using Pascal from scratch, within two weeks, for an inter-collegiate event. My teachers and friends say that I’m very dependable and reliable, because of the manner in which I volunteered for various events. Besides, I have a 98 per cent attendance record from college. I am a member of a Toastmasters group. Also, I’m planning to enroll in a diploma course focusing on digital marketing soon. This I believe will contribute to my career development and will also add value to my performance. Is there anything else, you would like me to share?

Carolann Philips is an award winning, certified management coach and organisational development coach based in Oman. She is also a talent developer, etiquette and protocol consultant. She specialises in behavioural skill development and professional performance enhancement.