We are right in the middle of internship season and with that comes lots and lots of interviews – phone interviews, group interviews, in-person interviews, Skype interviews, and follow-up interviews. Seven out of ten times you are going to be asked the same first question in every interview that’s conducted by someone you haven’t spoken with before and that’s, “Tell me about yourself.” Employers ask this question for two reasons. First, it’s an easy ice breaker. They are going to let you steer the ship for a moment. How you communicate and answer this question is crucial. Second, if they aren’t exactly sure what to ask you first, they hope they’ll determine question two while you answer question one (not ideal but usually true).
So how are you supposed to answer this question? You should be short, to-the-point, focused, and bring it back to the employer at the end. Give the important information. What is your name? Where do you go to school? What’s your major? When do you graduate? Why do you want to work or intern at this specific company? While answering this question, you have to keep your focus tight – especially during phone or group interviews as the second you start trailing off on a tangent, the employer gets distracted and loses interest – they are human too! By bringing your answer back to the company (why you want to work for this specific business) you are holding their interest and making it about “the company”. Your answer to a “Tell Me About Yourself” question shouldn’t be longer than two minutes. Also, when you talk about why you want to intern or work for the company make sure your answer sounds educated. The employer should know (by your answer) that you’ve done your research, been to the company website, and ultimately are as familiar as you can be about the company. Make sure it doesn’t sound like you woke up one morning and randomly decided that this would be the place where you try to get an internship.
Good luck! For more interview advice, read over my practice interview questions and suggested responses in ALL WORK, NO PAY.