“Tell Me a Little About Yourself”
It’s the dreaded, yet inevitable way that most interviews begin. What do they want to know? How are you supposed to answer a question that’s so broad?
What do you want to know?
Interviewers will ask this question for a few reasons. Yes, they do want to know about you and get a feel for the person you are, but they are very interested in your work history. Start by elaborating on your resume that they’ve already had a chance to glance over. Expand on your responsibilities in previous positions that correspond to the job being offered. The interviewer will have prepared more specific questions about your work history, but this is your chance to control the conversation and highlight the attributes on your resume that are most important and of which you are most proud.
It’s okay and even encouraged to talk about your non-work life, though you don’t want to overload your interviewer with unrelated information. You can talk about a few of your interests or future goals, but try tie them back to the job for which you’re applying. This way, you can seamlessly lead the conversation back into why you are a fit for this position.
As an example, you can tell your interviewer about your new found love of swimming, but tie it back to the job by saying that it’s a way for you to relax and release any stress or tension, balancing out your work day and allowing you to start fresh and energized every morning.
Let’s get real
There might be some hidden intentions when being asked about yourself. Some employers might use this as an opportunity to find out things that would be illegal to ask because of discrimination laws. One example is children – potential employers are not allowed to ask if you have any children as an interview question since it should have nothing to do with whether you are hired or not. Once you bring up your children and living situations, the employer can then continue the conversation.
Though it shouldn’t matter whether you have children or not, and it is even illegal to discriminate on that factor, potential employers might keep that in the back of their minds and quietly use it as a scale-tipping deciding factor. It’s not fair, but it is the world we live in and you should be aware of things like this going into your interview.
Other Personal No-Nos
A few areas of interest that you should try to steer clear of are:
- Children and family dynamic
- Political views
- Sexual Orientation
Though some of these might become obvious to your interviewer by looking at your past employment or even just speaking to you candidly, you don’t need to offer the information upfront. Don’t give any reason for possible discrimination and just present the perfectly professional person you are.