The purpose of an interview is not to tell the employer who you are in and out but to convince him/her that you're the perfect fit for the position.
Photograph*: Carlos Barria/Reuters
Interviewer: So Ritu, tell me about yourself.
Ritu: I am studying computer science. I want to become like Mark Zuckerberg. I was born in Delhi. My father owns a shoe factory. I want to work with your company because it's a huge brand.
Interviewer: Thanks, Ritu. We'll get back to you soon (or never, really!).
Still no idea where you went wrong?
Well, the purpose of an interview is not to tell the employer who you are in and out but to convince him/her that you're the perfect fit for the position.
And that's exactly what you have to remember while answering 'Tell me about yourself'.
Why does an interviewer ask the interviewee the 'Tell me about yourself' question?
You might think that this question is just an ice-breaker and aims to put you at ease; however, it's a lot more.
Through this question, the interviewer hopes to understand who you really are and get an insight about your capability to do the job.
The response also gives the interviewer an idea about how articulate and confident you are.
As a candidate, you need to ensure that your 'tell me about yourself' answer gives the employer a glimpse of your skill set and experience which makes you a perfect cut out for the internship.
After all, it's your chance to put a lasting impression on the interviewer!
Most students leave a bad impression right after they've answered 'Tell me about yourself' because they are unable to put forth an effective response.
Since it is an open-ended question, students tend to get confused as to what an employer could be possibly looking for and end up giving a messed-up answer.
Well, don't worry! The fault in your answers is coming to an end now.
How to answer 'Tell me about yourself'?
The simplest rule for answering 'Tell me about yourself' is to follow present, past, and future.
This section will include a brief of who you are and what you're currently pursuing.
It would include details about your college education, any projects that you are working on, and the clubs and societies that you're a part of.
You can also talk about your hobbies that demonstrate intellectual development and inquisitiveness such as reading, writing, learning new skills, etc.
It will include what you have done. This is where you display your knowledge and capabilities to the interviewer.
Talking about your previous experiences and accomplishments helps the recruiter get a glimpse of the skills you have and your attitude towards a job.
Even if your previous internship was unrelated to the profile you've applied for, it is worth mentioning since it tells the recruiter that you know the etiquette of working in a professional setting.
End your answer by telling them what you plan to do. The recruiter is always interested in knowing why you're interested in that particular role and what your plans for future are.
Now, here's a 'Tell me about yourself' sample answer for freshers:
I am pursuing BTech in computer science from XYZ university.
I am a detail-oriented person and can juggle between tasks. I love to read graphic novels in my spare time.
I am also a part of the college dance crew named Addiction. I did a marketing internship at Uber last summer, and I realised that the field excites me.
I have always wanted to work with a start-up owing to the learning opportunities it offers, and I believe I can bring my skills on the table for this position.
Now that you know how to structure your 'Tell me about yourself' answer, let's quickly take a look at some tips and tricks to nail this question.
1. Make it precise
A 'Tell me about yourself' answer should talk about your skills and abilities along with your passion and interest in the profile and/or the company.
2. Keep it short
A short and concise answer will ensure that the interviewer doesn't lose interest in what you have to say and understands how you're a good fit for the role.
3. Use body language
An effective body language will ensure that you're able to communicate your answer in a persuasive manner.
So don't slouch in the chair, sit up straight, and use hand gestures while answering.
4. Practice your answer
Once you have the answer ready, read it aloud to a friend or in front of the mirror so that you know how to articulate it and don't get nervous in the interview.
The author Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform.
*Note: Lead image published for representational purposes only.