Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tell me something about yourself

This is the most important question that you need to prepare for. The answer to this question should take 80% of your interview preparation time. Preparing for this will help you prepare for most of the questions in the interview. You may not get this question directly, but may also get it in various forms.

Tips to prepare
1. Write down everything that you have done in your life that you think is worth mentioning. Cut down on them later and consolidate.

2. Try to make a compact story with the points that you have. Drop the points that don’t fit in. When you try to make it compact, some attributes of your life come out like ‘hard-working’, ‘good at organization’, ‘enthusiastic’, ’philanthropic’ etc etc… watch out for such attributes and it will help you sum up better.

3. The structure of the story
The order of the story can be chronological if you want to take the easy path. E.g., I was born in a small village in interior Uttaranchal. I did my schooling in ABC school and topped through out. My father was a Government servant and mother a house wife
--- Aaahh, not impressive at all
Make the story so that it describes your life more compactly. Born in a small village to a middle class family, I have always dreamed big and work hard to achieve the same. The values that my family inculcated has stood in good stead throughout my life and have made great contribution in my success.
--- That’s consolidation. Talk about experiences, learning and your achievements because of them

4. Make sure you do talk about your hobbies. And understand that hobbies are not mere interests. It is something where you have put in a little more than just showing interest. It is no harm in talking about hobbies like ‘listening to music’, ‘watching cricket’ etc, but they just take space and do not add any value. ‘Making websites’, ‘Blogging’, ‘Visiting historical places’ are some decent hobbies if you have one like that. These are the hobbies, when mentioned, elicit interest and invites good questions from the interviewer. If you don’t have one like that, don’t mention.

5. Do not brag. At the same time don’t be hesitant to talk about the good things about you.

6. When this question is posed in the interview, make sure that talk-time is not more than 3-4 minutes, but should not be less too. The most uncomfortable thing is that you finish the answer and the interview is making a face that has "That’s it???" written over. The best thing is when they pick up some good point in the answer and ask a question on it.

7. Don’t tell me your father’s name. It really doesn’t matter to me even if he is Mr. Gates himself. This is just a common example of non-value adding, time wasting points. There are so many like "my mother is a house-wife", "I did my schooling in ABCXYZ school" which should be avoided.

8. Interesting points lead to more questions. And that means that you are setting the direction for the interview. If your answer is pale, then the next question can just be anything.

9. Talk about your strengths and be prepared to elicit situations where you used your strengths.

10. Do not about your weaknesses here. The interviewer will prod if he is interested in them.

I guess I have given a broad direction on this. I will not dig deeper at this stage since the answer for this question is specific to an individual. So do post in your answer for this and I will give my comments on them. Understand that the earlier you put it the better. You will have more time to prepare and I will have more time to answer.



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