The “Tell me about yourself” or “ How would you describe yourself“ question is asked usually in the beginning of the interview so that it provides a general framework for discussion for the rest of the interview. This question gives way to other related questions.
You are actually at an advantage if asked this question during the interview. You have this wonderful opportunity to talk about your passion, your strengths, things that are important for you. A golden chance to manipulate the discussion into a domain where you know you can do well.
We touched upon how important it is to know ourselves thoroughly to perform well during an interview in the Self-Awareness post.
SELF AWARENESS – A VITAL COMPONENT FOR SUCCESS IN JOB INTERVIEWS !!
In this article, we will help you understand yourself through some guided questions. To ace this open-ended question, you need to ask yourself many open-ended questions and answer them objectively. These questions are a way to explore yourself. We will do a small exercise using a model called Johari’s window which represents our levels of self-disclosure.
|SELF / OTHERS||THINGS I KNOW ABOUT MYSELF||THINGS I DO'NT KNOW ABOUT MYSELF
|THINGS OTHERS KNOW ABOUT ME ||OPEN AREA||BLIND SPOT
|THINGS OTHERS DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME ||HIDDEN AREA ||UNCONSCIOUS /POTENTIAL SELF
Let us look at the components of the window in detail.
|PERSONALITY ASPECT||PERSONALITY ASPECT- EXPLAINED||EXAMPLES
|OPEN AREA||AREA KNOWN TO YOU AND OTHERS ||For ex- You love Rock Music - A fact known to you and others
|BLIND SPOT||AREA WHICH IS BLIND TO YOU BUT NOT OTHERS ||For ex - Your voice gets shrill when you are nervous or upset
|HIDDEN AREA ||PERSONALITY OR NATURE THAT YOU ARE WELL AWARE OF .BUT OTHERS ARE NOT ||For ex - You are very particular that you pay off your friends if you have borrowed money from them at the earliest. Your friends may be unaware of this aspect of yours
These are the aspects of our personality which we need to explore.
Let us come to the most important aspect of our personality , which is
|PERSONALITY ASPECT||PERSONALITY ASPECT- EXPLAINED||EXAMPLE
|Unconscious Self ||Or as we call It- “The Potential self” ; is The path to self-awareness . This is like the mystery movie which does not disclose in the end who the killer is. It is left to the viewer to interpret and come to his own conclusion. This is your mysterious, subconscious self which if explored deeply will uncover talents, secrets, fears, emotions that lies deeply buried. The reason we call it the potential self, is because there may be untapped energy or talent which will come to surface. These may be situations which you have not encountered in life, so you don’t know how you would react to them. These also may be areas where you can excel or things that you enjoy doing||For ex - You may have discovered a new love for running or you may have taken up a new hobby. You have decided to take specialize in a certain field. These evolving thoughts or change in mindsets, do not happen overnight. It is by way of self- questioning and getting the right answers – answers that may seem right to you and fits in the overall scheme of things. You may be good at craft, but you would not know it until you start exploring your beliefs, your values, your interest that are deep in your subconscious levels.
In this article we will attempt to answer a few questions about yourself. The list of questions is exhaustive and not limited to the ones mentioned here. Our aim is to get you onboard the train of thoughts and guide it in the right direction.
These questions below will prompt you to think and to reflect on yourself. You would be surprised to discover certain things about yourself when viewed with an analytical and critical eye. You may also have to take feedback from others – your trusted friends, family, co-workers to fill in the Blind Spot area.
Our ultimate aim with this exercise is to score and plot the Johari Window based on the reflections and observations we have made about ourselves. The larger the open area, the more transparent you are to yourself.
We will then give examples on how to craft your response to the tell me about yourself question based on your discoveries.
As much as possible, be honest to yourself while responding to these questions to determine accurately whether the behavior is in line with your identity, an integral part of who you are.
TASK 1 – ASSESSING YOUR PERSONALITY
|QUESTIONS FOR YOURSELF||OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE ||CONSCIENTIOUSNESS|
(Putting 100% effort and wishing you give your best in the task you undertake)
|Q.1||How do you work under high pressure ||Is your room a mess or is it well organized ||What would be your idea of a perfect Friday night – Watching a movie by yourself OR going bowling with friends ||Are you on most of your friends speed dial list when they need help ||Are you confident about yourself most of the times?
|Q.2||Do you enjoy writing a review of a movie? ||Are you always on time ? ||In a gathering , do you want to be the center of attention ?||Do you get angry and irritated with people around you easily ||Do you get hurt easily?
|Other questions to ask yourself -How creative are you, how flexible you are, do you feel your thinking is different from others. Such questions will help you - |
• To determine suitability for particular jobs;
• To determine appropriate educational paths;
• To help match individuals for teams or relationships;
• To help predict an individual's response to a given situation.
|Other questions to ask yourself- Do you make plans and stick to them, are you very particular about your appearance, you never leave things unfinished, do you give your 100% and more in whatever task you take on?|
Self- assessment around this trait will help you understand the challenges and limitations you might face. You can channelize your energies towards areas where you need improvement
|Other questions to ask yourself- Do you like adventure sports? Do you enjoy meeting new people? Do you have wide circle of very good friends? Do you speak first and think about it later? |
Self-assessment around this trait among other things will help you figure out the kind of job profile that suits – independent player or a team player?
|Other questions to ask yourself – Is it easy for you understand the other persons emotions? Do your friends think you are always cheerful and happy? Do you find ways to sound kind even if the situation is unpleasant?|
Self-assessment around this trait will show the level of friendliness, kindness, cooperativeness, and politeness you have.
|Other questions to ask yourself –Are you overly critical about yourself? Do difficult situations get your anxious and worried? Do little things upset you? Do you have mood-swings?
Self-assessment around this trait will predict how successful you will be in your efforts. A core trait that if worked on will make you a well-rounded person
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS. THE GOAL HERE IS TO IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONALITY TRAIT , UNDERSTAND PATTERNS THAT GOVERN YOUR THOUGHTS, FEELINGS AND BEHAVIOR , YOUR EMOTIONAL STRUCTURE – ALL OF WHICH HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON IMPORTANT LIFE OUTCOMES.
Now that we have a good idea about the kind of personality we possess, let us move to other questions which can be answered both my experienced professionals and freshers alike. Just because you are right out of college and do not have experience does not mean you cannot answer these questions. Infact, this is the best time in life you should be looking at what you want to steer your career in the right directions. So, go for it!!
Task 2 – Best Fit = fn ( Individual Personality + Work Environment)
This exercise is to find a match between your personality and the work environment you best fit in.
We spend most of our waking hours at work, with our colleagues and customers/ clients. A very important question you need to ask yourself – How would my 9 am to 5 pm look like?
- a) Do I like an environment that is face paced and structured or would I be happier if I do not have to work under strict timelines but systems are highly unstructured?
- b) Will be most comfortable working in a large company or am I at my best if the company is small
- c) Do I like a causal environment (Sneakers everyday) or a more formal one? Yes, what employees wear talk a lot about the culture the company has
|Think of more questions. Research the work culture various companies have if you are starting out fresh. Once you get an idea on the inner working of the company, make a list of what the environment and culture that will best suit you. Most of the times when an employee looks for a change or quits a company, it Is because of his boss or his team. So it is a good to know what you are getting into.
Task 3 – YOUR SKILL INVENTORY
This may not be as simple as it sounds. The skill inventory that you make for yourself should not only include your core, technical skills but also your soft skills. Now this is an area where you need to ask yourself. Am I an extrovert? If I am one, am I just comfortable talking to people who I am familiar with. A big crowd gives me the jitters? It is a good idea to rate your skills. If I see my career in marketing, I would rate myself from 1 to 5 ( 1 being the highest ) on these various parameters
|SKILL INVENTORY ||RANKING
|NEGOTIATION SKILLS ||4
|PROSPECTING SKILLS ||5
|TIME MANAGEMENT ||3
|PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE( if you are already have experience working in a particular industry or dealing with a particular product)||5
|Think of more such questions. Understanding the skills you have for the job that you are interested in will give you an idea on where you need to improve and help you set realistic goals for yourself. You may need to go back and think of a lot of situations from your work experience. If you are a fresher, research about the various skills needed for a particular job or profile that you are interested in. This exercise will also help you re-visit on the choice of career you have made for yourself. If you feel that you are low on most of the skill sets, you need to do a reality check. Either work on a self-improvement plan or go for a different career option.
Task 4 – VALUES YOU UPHOLD
The values and beliefs that you have, have a direct co-relation to the work culture that you would be most comfortable in. We did a little exercise in Task # 2 about the work environment. So, your question may be what the difference between Work Culture and Work environment is. The unwritten rules that form a part of the work culture define the work environment. So, it is all inter-related.
Let’s say Ritin a software engineer is always on the lookout for developing his technical skills. He has a lot of opportunity in his job front to improve it. Ritin thinks that taking certifications will help him grow and also do better in his job. There is a company policy against reimbursing the employee for certifications he makes out of his choice. What does this say about the company culture? Ritin may feel its unfair but another employee Anand may not seem too bothered about it. Anand may be keener on getting his work-life balance right. A movie night at office seems more fun for him.
Ask yourself – Do you love being creative around your work- thinking out of the box? Do you like taking risks? Are you an independent thinker? Or do you need opinion of a whole lot of people? Does the term flexible working hours entice you?
|Think of more such questions. . You need to do a self-check on what is important for you. There is nothing right or wrong here. What may seem important to others may not seem important to you.
Task 5 – YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Now this is something probably you will have at the tip of your fingertips. Some important aspects you need to consider while making a list
- Think of examples which support your accomplishment. For ex – I was instrumental in organizing a fund-raising event for which we raised around Rs 3,00,000/-
- Go back to your skill inventory. Think of situations where you used your skill and brought about a positive difference. For ex – I had to negotiate with a very difficult and demanding client. I not only managed to close the deal but I was also successful in building a very strong relationship with them.
- Support facts with numbers and figures. Always, always try and do this. Gives more credibility to what you are saying. And be sure of the numbers and facts you are providing. Example –Delivered industry-leading software that saved clients millions of dollars, shortened processes from weeks to minutes, captured #1 market share and generated up to $21M in annual revenues within year one of launch
- Do not restrict to achievements that are just task oriented. There may be a time when you were given more responsibility in the team. It can probably be as simple as organizing an offsite. You are probably good at coordinating and facilitating.
- Achievements also mean accomplishments that you have had as a team. I am very proud of the fact that my team achieved 100% targets well before the deadline – shows that you know the importance of “We” over “I”
- For freshers who have not come across real time work experience, when you look for a job they really do not expect you to have come across challenging situations obviously. Here, the effort is to understand yourself better. Using the P-A-R approach will help you dissect your lives achievements.
P- Problem or a challenge you faced
A- Action that you took to solve the problem
R- Result of the action that you took
For ex – I worked on a project during my internship on new ways of improving speed and efficiency of conveyor belts while reducing energy consumption. We were successful in reducing power consumption by 5% .
|Think of more such questions. If you find it challenging to identify your achievements, try getting inputs from your professors in college. A simple question like – What do you think I am good at ??, may give you quite a lot of information for you to build on your achievement checklist. If you are a working professional. Look at your appraisal form and pay attention to the remarks that your manager has written about you.
Task 6 – YOUR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS !
What gets you angry? What irritates you the most? What is that you fear the most?
Identifying the trigger points that leads to you having any extreme emotions are important not only in discovering your feelings about also will help you in controlling and regulating them. Having a strong will power and ability to have Self-Control is considered a very vital skill. For instance – You look for perfection in the PowerPoint that is sent by your team. Any small error, even in spacing or formatting gets you upset. If you aware of this emotional trigger, you can be aware of your feelings and choose not to react to it and concentrate on more important data on the presentation
|Think of more such questions. Do not restrict your triggers to work front. Someone breaking the traffic rules may get you angry. Think of hypothetical , difficult situations which you have never faced and think of how you may react to it.
Task 7- YOUR PASSION
What drives you?
What motivates you?
Please note that you need to limit your passion to work. It can and should go beyond what you do on a 9 to 5 basis. If you have not found that one thing that you love doing, go explore. It will definitely help you have a better understanding of yourself and also give you a high sense of emotional well-being. It will also be an avenue for you to socialize and network with industry professionals.
|While you may love to cook, it may not really add value to your resume or to the job that you are applying to unless of course you were chosen for “Masterchef India”. It is important to strategically choose a hobby and pursue. Some good examples – Volunteering for an NGO , Part of a local badminton team, A Zumba instructor .
Task 8 – YOUR CAREER GOAL
Where do you see yourself in 5 years ? As a manager or a senior manager are not the kind of responses you should be telling yourself. Know what you are getting into if you are a fresher and if you already are experienced, do a thorough research on the career option that you have chosen. Make an in-depth study and research on the industry or technology that is related to your career. It is a good idea to Subscribe to magazines that is related to your field of occupation. Start following articles of well-experienced, reputed professionals on LinkedIn
|Your career goal should not be just limited to what you will do 5 years from now. It should be where you see the industry going and how you best can fit there. For instance – You are a business analyst. You want to get into Data analytics and learn the latest tools and techniques.
Task 9- YOUR IDEAL JOB…
This is in a way related to what you love doing now and what will keep you more than happy 5 years down the line. Once you know your long-term career aspirations you will be able to expand this answer In a way that sounds realistic and goal-oriented. Thinking on these lines will help – I love to get a deep understanding of a subject and becoming a Subject Matter expert In a way that I can wow the client. Eventually, I want to pick Big Data Analytics and specialize in it. I am curious about how Hadoop work. I would want to work more on this technology.
|What your ideal job looks like, has a lot to do with your personality. You may not like to sit on a desk from 9 to 5 so a sales job may be perfect for you. But at the same time you may not be your best when it comes to meeting strict deadlines. So you will have to find a good mix - the one that suits your personality and also meets your career aspirations.
TASK 10 – YOUR DEVELOPMENTAL GOALS
This should be in line with your career goal and aspiration. Taking a certification in Hadoop or aiming to land a job which gives you exposure to Hadoop may be a good step to begin with.
|Do not neglect your soft skill. Look back at the skills inventory and your rating of each of it. Identify where you lag behind, set a timeline and start working towards developing it.
Task 12: HOW OTHERS VIEW YOU?
Remember the Blind Spot in Johari’s window?
The only way to know about yourself to which you are blinded, is from getting feedback. Keep it informal and Choose a good mix of people – some from your work place, your friend, your relative, your mom. This gives you an overall perspective of how others view you. It may go to the extent of building a damaged relationship with your cousin or friend.
|- It may be tricky and you may feel awkward but an honest and genuine feedback will open up new avenues of self -realization than you can imagine. Starting an informal conversation can be a good way to solicit feedback. “Hey !! tell me something, what do you think are my strong and weak points. . I am doing this little exercise on self-improvement. So be honest. You have known me for 5 long years. I could not think of anyone else to ask this question.
As you may have realized by now, most of these tasks are interrelated. Having said that, there are high chances that each of these questions will help you discover newer aspects about yourself. Give yourself some time and happy exploring!
Our next step is to develop our interview response and it is a guarantee that once you are done with this exercise you will find a whole new way of answering the regular questions.