Tell me something about yourself.
This is the first question you get asked in an interview but is the hardest one to answer.
The balance of who you are and how you put it across is important. This is the second most important thing that will create an impression about you – after the non-verbal aspects like the way you are dressed and how you walked into the room.
Here are some things you should not do:
1. Don’t start with the obvious
This is not just super boring, mechanical but also shows that you haven’t prepared. There is nothing to make you stand out. Your intro is as boring as the next person. This can be a huge turn off and harder to come back from later in the interview.
2. Don’t start with the mundane
It’s great that you love your family but is that the first thing you can think of while introducing yourself in an interview?
3. Don’t sound mechanical
This is more about how you sound than what you say. If you say the most boring thing about yourself – your name, qualification etc – you will sound mechanical.
This is because you have said this so many times before and you are just repeating it in another interview. It is robbed of all feeling. If you are not enthused talking about yourself, neither is the interviewer.
4. Don’t ramble
This, again, shows lack of preparation. You start with the usual things and then talk about your hobbies, future goals and why you want this job all in response to the first question.
You’ve exhausted all your material instead of phasing it out in a planned manner. What are you going to say in the rest of the interview?
Video: A series of videos I made on how to introduce yourself with impact
But then what are a few things one can actually do to get a great start in an interview?
Here are a few tips and ideas:
1. Think about it
This answer is mostly your first chance to create a great impression.
Really think about what you want to tell about yourself. What would you tell a new friend about yourself? How would you introduce yourself in a social situation? What would you say at a networking event?
Think of the info and the tone you will use in different situations. Probably your interview intro should reflect a mix of all this.
2. Have different versions
This is an extension of the different situations I just mentioned.
If you have a standard introduction and memorise it, you will since mechanical after a point.
You know about yourself, so talk about it – don’t recall it from memory.
For instance, I know about myself and I say different things in different situations – even to different people in the same networking event. I don’t need to parrot the same thing to everyone.
3. Practice the answer
I know I told you to keep it spontaneous – but all great speeches were carefully rehearsed to sound spontaneous!
Work on your voice modulation, facial expressions etc. Do it with a sibling or a friend so that they can give you feedback on how you sound and look.
If they think it was interesting to listen you, you are on the right track. If they are bored, time to revise it.
4. Show confidence and pride
Enunciate your name, don’t mumble.
Use “I” a few times. Use adjectives to describe you as a person. Paint a picture maybe, of the kind of person you are.
But remain in your comfort zone. Say what comes naturally to you. Don’t emulate someone else’s style.
Here are a few ideas to get you started
– Use an adjective
Use an adjective that starts with the first letter of your name and also defines you.
For instance, in the past I have used – Hi! I’m simple Suman and I believe that in this complex world, simplicity is a very important thing to hold on to.
This is also a great way to start a conversation around simplicity and I can explain why and how I follow it in life.
This also ensures that the start of the interview is creative and a smooth sail.
– Add a funny spin
You can add a funny spin during the interview. When I introduce myself in a class, I say – one of the things that I love about my profession as a trainer is that it pays me to talk and I love talking.
That gets a few laughs and the situation is relaxed at the same time.
But try this only when you’ve said a couple of serious things about yourself.
For instance, if it’s a marketing job, you can say why you’d love to work in this area with a funny addition – plus I am looking forward to rub shoulders with all the celebrities I might meet at the events.
Another interview I remember where the candidate, during the interview, said that his parents did not allow pets at home because they say that he is raised as one.
As you can see, you can pull off such off beat answers only if you say them with the right attitude and in the right manner.
Think of what creativity and fun comes naturally to you and you can highlight in an interview to make yourself stand apart. While it can be funny/creative, it is also important for it to be interview appropriate.
Update: I’ve uploaded a series of videos on how to introduce yourself effectively . You may also subscribe to the channel while you are there!
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