The simplest questions often have the most difficult answers. When I was interviewing for medical school, I remember fearing that dreaded question:
“So, Tell me about yourself”
What kind of a question is this? What do I say? What don’t I say? Why did they ask me this?! If you feel this way, you are not alone. “Tell me about yourself” was recently deemed the toughest interview question by MSN Careers/Career Builder (unfortunately, their advice was, in my opinion, terribly misguided).
Now, years after my medical school interviews, I understand why interviewers ask this question. In fact, I think in my years of interviewing people both for jobs and for medical school, I have asked every single candidate this question and it is usually the first question that I ask!
Why do I ask this question? The purpose is to get beyond the experience and achievements listed in the resume. I want to know what the candidate thinks is important about him or herself. To me, this much more valuable than the bullet points on a resume.
Why do I think that the MSN/Career Builder advice is misguided? In short, they say that when interviewers asks you to tell them about yourself, this is an opportunity to brag about your achievements and qualifications. If that was what interviewers were looking for when speaking to you, they would ask you directly!
I advise you to get personal. When preparing for this question, think about what is most important to you. Your family? Friends? Religion? Community? Puppy? Career? If so, say it. There will be plenty of time to talk about all of your professional achievements later on during the interview.
How would you approach this tough interview question?
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