Hiring pros view the “Tell me about yourself.” question as a way to put candidates at ease and a starting point for conversation. For inexperienced candidates this can be unnerving as they don’t know where to start. Do I rattle off my work history or talk about the 100-mile bike ride I just completed? What is the interviewer looking for here?
As a recruiter, I always look for balance and the ability to summarize in a genuine manner. I recommend that candidates start by highlighting the career accomplishments they are most proud of and then share some tidbits about their pursuits outside of work. This might be community involvement, hobbies or their favorite sports teams.
I recommend that candidates do their homework and learn about the people they will be interviewing with to see if they can create a connection.
As I’ve matured as a hiring professional, I now ask “Tell me about the career accomplishments that you are most proud of.” This question always puts a smile on the candidates’ face and reduces their stress. I am able to assess beyond the resume and determine if they can succinctly provide this information. Later in the interview I’ll ask, What do you do in your downtime?