"Tell me about yourself"...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by New Mexican, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. New Mexican

    New Mexican Well-Known Member

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    Having recently been unemployed and now job seeking, this question comes up in interviews and applications. I'm having a real difficult time with this and stumble for "good" answsers. Can anyone advise me on this?

    What would YOU say about yourself when asked? I have no problem talking about someone else, but for me..........well, it's hard.
     
  2. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Might help if you mentally switch places with the interviewer and think about some of the things it is likely that would help them decide if you are the person for the job?

    I'll tell you what employers like to hear about personal things about prospective employees. Something along the lines of -- "I really love this area and hope to spend the rest of my life here; I have ____ children, I've made arrangement for dependable child care so that all my attention will be forcused on work while I am at work; (if married) my husband and I are happily married and he has a job he likes very much; I live so many miles from the job location and I have dependable transportation to get to and from work; my community interest are such and such...." Get the picture? Tell them truthful things about yourself that will let them know you are the person for the job.

    Sometimes it helps to sit in front of a mirror and have the conversation. Do it until it no longer feels silly and you'll do just find on the interview.

    Good luck in the job hunting,
    Marlene
     

  3. HiouchiDump

    HiouchiDump Well-Known Member

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    This is potentially one of the toughest or one of the most meaningless questions you can be asked, depending on who you are talking to. I'm afraid my advice also falls into the realm of common sense and may therefore be worthless. I currently manage a group of over 30 people all over the globe and also interview many people for other groups in my company, so I have quite a bit of experience as an interviewer. From this point of view, I can tell you that this is a question that typically only expert or inexperienced interviewers ask.

    The expert interviewer asks you this question because they are seeking something very specific. For example, I know the positions I am interviewing for are extremely demanding, uncompromising, full time jobs that leave little time for a family. I am looking for an honest answer and one that hopefully demonstrates that the candidate is a climber, with an excellent grasp of the business, who is going to really dedicate their life to the job for a couple of years. If they do not meet this description, they will not be happy, I will not be happy, and things will end badly.

    On the other hand, inexperienced interviewers have often been advised to look for the well rounded candidate and throw in a few "personal questions" (e.g. Who are you? Where do you see yourself in five years? What is your greatest strength/weakness?). In fact, a well rounded candidate may not be the right choice for many jobs. In my realm, high tech, it often is not. You are casting a wide net with inexperienced interviewers, because they are often following advice in their interviewing technique, which is not the same as knowing what they are seeking and how to find it. They are looking for commonality with interviewee in many cases, rather than a specific fit to the job.

    The question falls to you: are you looking for a job at the possible expense of your personal life, or are you looking for a job that suits you and your current position in life? If it is the latter, just be honest; you are more likely to find a good fit, with a boss that understands you and find a good long term balance between your time and the time you sell. If you just desperately need a paycheck and you are willing to suffer for it, then pay a great deal of attention to your interviewer and his surroundings and try to fit what you see.

    Do you see a characterless office, no family pictures, and a well organized in/out box? If so, be the ladder climbing corporate warrior; just competent and dedicated enough to be a great fit without causing your boss any worries that you might be gunning for his job. Keep personal details to a minimum and career highlights should be exaggerated just short of fiction.

    Do you see crayon drawings of elephants, family photos, and a well worn phone? If so, be the beleaguered family man, just trying to make a living and strike a balance with life. Be the jack of all trades. Be the man who could have been something "more", chose a simple path instead, but still has the requisite skills.

    Whatever you do, don't be boring and don't be so predictable as to just talk about how much the job means to you. Few can do this and be believable. The more you talk about the job, the less credible you are. The more you frame the job with compatible life experiences, hobbies, and stories, the better fit you seem.

    Having interviewed hundreds of people and fired a score or so, my best advice is to always be honest. I know everyone cannot afford that luxury, but you and the boss will be happy when you find the right fit and you will find success comes easily in that environment. If you have no choice but to fit yourself to a job and a boss that is less that ideal, get ready for pain, but know that discipline can see you through until the right thing comes along - I've been there.

    We all make compromises. I would prefer to be on my 20 acres in Northern Cali, but instead I am cleaning up a team in Singapore. I look forward to the day when I don't have to do this anymore, but in the meantime I play the game and hope that I am at least making a fair life for my employees. I hope they are honest with me in the interview, because their lives are much harder if they are not.

    I hope that helps, but if I rambled, ask for some more when I am not buzzed from the traditional Asian business dinner ;).

    -Bill


     
  4. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    They are trying to figure out what type of employee you are. Every company has a "personality" and they want to know if you are going to fit in or not. You don't want to portray yourself as something you aren't as in the long run it does you no good. You would be miserable.

    Do you like to work with a "team" or do you like to work alone. Or does it matter.

    Do you like to have a variety of assignments or do you like to do the same stuff over and over.

    Do you seek out stuff to do or are you a focused type person that concentrates on doing the job you are doing better and more perfect.

    Are you a person that is slow, but perfectionist or are you a person that just gets it done and it doesn't have to be perfect

    Do you take criticism well or not.

    Do you like to talk alot or do you concentrate on your job and are the quiet type.

    Do you like to come up with ideas and let someone else impliment them or do you like for others to come up with ideas and then let you run with the ball.

    You get the idea. Good luck with your search!










    Are you a person that expects to make lots of friends at work or not.
     
  5. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Well said, HiouchiDump. The only thing I would add, having been on the interviewer side of the fence for several years now, is this: It is extremely difficult these days to find employees with a work ethic. You needn't be the singularly motivated "corporate climber" type, or paint yourself as one, in order to convey to a prospective employer that for eight hours a day you will work your a** off for him and give him his "dollar's worth." You'd be surprised how many interviewees go on at length about their various experiences, abilities and achievements and never simply look you right in the eye and tell you, "If you give me this opportunity, you won't regret it. I'll be the best [ ] you've ever had." Sounds corny, and that's probably why so few candidates would ever consider being so direct. But it makes a big impression with me.
     
  6. New Mexican

    New Mexican Well-Known Member

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    Gosh everyone...........it's ALL so good! Now my head is spinning alright! but you all bring up some thought-provoking discussions that I need to have within myself.

    I have such a hard time talking about ME. Maybe we all do??? But you're right.....walking into a job "ready to roll up your sleeves" is something that I would look for. The "realness" of a person is what I like. The sense of humor is very important...good conversational skills, being able to say either, "I can do that" or "I cannot". KNOWING who I am is what I still struggle with sometimes. Funny.......I'm 47 years old and I still feel like I do not know who I am. What is is funnier is that my DH does!!
     
  7. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I work at a public college and do interviewing for various positions. There is a process here by which someone other than the future supervisor heads a hiring committee who does interviewing and summarizes strengths and weaknesses for the supervisor to make a decision. The supervisor also interviews each of the candidates briefly. During the committee interviews we have a set of questions and must ask the exact questions of each candidate. The supervisor is able to ask more focussed questions. The process has it's pros and cons and generally takes forever to complete, beauacracy at it's finest. However, what I wanted to share about public sector jobs and I don't know much about private sector, but if it is "equal opportunity" it may apply is that the employer may not ask anything about family, lifestyle, religion, etc. The focus must be on the job function itself - like can you work odd hours on occasion?

    When I ask a person to tell me something about themselves (a typical committee question) I want to hear a very BRIEF history of your experience, relating it to the skills needed for the open position. I have your resume, I don't need a blow by blow, but need to understand how you think this experience applies to the position you are interviewing for. It reflects that you would know how to do the work. Then I would want to hear something about why this open position interests you. Do you like a challenge, helping people, working on a team, etc. Anything that relates it to the open position we are talking about that reflects you understand what would be expected in this job. I am looking for a good fit. Sometimes we are hiring a VP, sometimes a secretary so there is no "right" answer. You want to find that fit and I want to know that the person has taken enough interest in the position to understand more about what it is about. That door is open for questions long before the interview happens.

    As everyone mentioned - be open an honest. Just like in relationships, having no job is better than one where you don't fit. You've been through that and don't want to get back into the same situation, which you will if you are not very candid in the interview about what you want/need from a career.

    Good luck. While you are looking try different kinds of jobs to apply for - it's a chance to get to know other opportunities that you might like even better. There are opportunities out there for the person who seeks them out, even in this miserable economy. We are filling many positions at my place of employment, unfortunately several from illnesses or deaths and retirements also since the organization is about 30 years old and the original employees are leaving now. Another thing to consideer is getting in at the ground floor and working your way through a large system like that. You will want to be clear in the interview that that is your expectation though because in some organizations it's almost impossible. In my career I had to move jobs to get a promotion. Now that I can control some of that I make it a point to take care of existing employees who are performing before going external to look for someone. Not all organizations are like that though. If that's a priority for you, have that discussion in the interview or at least at the offer stage.

    Well, I've run on a bit on this - hope some of it helps. Losing a job is tough but it sounds like you have the perfect opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I go along with Amelia. I used to have some real self esteem problems. I'd go in to an interview with my hat in my hand more or less at their mercy, hoping they would give me a job out of the goodness of their heart. I guess I finally got to a point in my life when I took a good look at myself and realized that no matter what job I've ever had, I did it to the best of my ability and as good if not better than other people doing the same job. I also noticed that while many people put in their time and did as little as possible, I worked hard from start to finish. Since I became a drafter in 1998 my attitude at interviews has changed. I was called for an interview a week before our drafting class was to graduate. I went and was a little nervous because drafting was all new to me. But I answered all their questions as best as I could, and even told the interviewer that he should have called me first and saved a lot of time. As the hiring person was walking me back out, the receptionist said goodbye. I turned and looked at her and said, "don't worry you'll see me again very soon". They called me to come to work the next day. I don't go on an interview unless I really want the job, because I have yet to go and not be hired. I know it has a lot to do with my attitude. My skills and background are nothing exceptional, but I come right out and tell the interviewer that they can stop looking because I am the best person for the job. I don't just say it, I believe it and it has never failed to get me hired. Course it helps if you can back it up when you get the job. I know that the confidence you feel is projected and the interviewer will pick up on it. Guess that's enough wind out of me for today. The power of positive thinking is very real.

    Nomad
     
  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I don't interview people, but I've always managed to get a job.

    I try to say as little as possible in regards to my personal life while in an interview. I am there about a job and my personal life does not matter in that regards. I would never think to mention the state of my marriage (none of their business and I don't think they would really care). I also would not mention kids at all. If I had RELEVANT community service type deals, I would mention them.

    The question "tell me about yourself" is all about me in the working world. I give what I think are my good qualities as an employee and a bit about my ambitions (if I have any, if I don't I'm not afraid to say that either). The last interview I had I told them I just wanted a job and did not want to climb any ladders. I got the job, but ended up turning it down.

    I think bringing up too much personal stuff just sends the wrong impression.

    I take all those weird interview questions (What is your biggest regret in life? What are your three best qualities and worst ones?) within the context of employment. If you regret leaving your wife and three kids 30 years ago, they sure don't want to hear it!

    I did answer "What are your hobbies?" with "Napping" once. Got the job. I guess they figured I was taking all those naps from working so hard (no I don't nap on the job!).

    Jena
     
  10. tambo

    tambo Well-Known Member

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    If I were asked"Tell me about yourself."I would reply I'm honest,hardworking and dependable.That's all they need to know.

    Tambo
     
  11. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    I know that when I interviewed people, I often asked this question too...not really to see what they were like but to see how well they were at conversation and if their personal skill were up to par. If they cant even tell you about themself, then how are they going to relate and deal with customers, buyers and the such. I just really want to hear the person talk about something were there were no right or wrong answers. My advice would be to be personal, but not too personal, speak with confidence but not arrigance (sp), and sell yourself while using good speech. I wouldn't get to prepared, because that always seems to look like you are making it up.

    Belinda
     
  12. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Let's see Jena: I have two applicants for the same position with equal education and work experience. On the one hand I have an applicant who when asked to tell me something personal about herself freely admits to having a stable home life and has made arrangements for dependable childcare and transportation...and one who gives me the impression that I should mind my own BUSINESS .... which one do you think I will hire? :)

    One thing about free advise...you can take it or you can leave it with pretty much what you came in with right?

    Marlene