This is a sequel to my earlier post on interview with Irevna.

Two insights helped me in the above interview I mentioned in my previous post.

First, most interviews begin with the question, “tell me about yourself” – a lazy and smart interviewer’s question. I say lazy, because it is easy to ask. You can show up without looking at the interviewee’s resume and still ask this question confidently. And smart because it brings to bear several skills and preparation of the candidate.

“Tell me about yourself” is not “tell me your history.” It is disguised “Tell me, based on what you have done, why, I should I hire you?”

This question is a great opportunity because the canvass is yet to be painted. The structure of the painting is fully in YOUR control. It is not a dull “what is IRR” which needs a straight definition type answer.

But it’s a tough question too. You have to understand what the interviewer’s expectations are.

Most interviewers have expectations from an interviewee in the following categories, not necessarily in any order.

  • Technical
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Experience
  • Qualifications etc.

Some of the above categories are more important than others. Which one is more important and which is not depends on the industry and the role for which interview is being conducted. A sales role may need more interpersonal and communication skills; a team leader may need greater leadership skills; and analytics role may need greater technical skills. For the role you have applied for, check out what the interviewer may be looking for.

Your answer to “tell me about yourself” should give a glimpse (not an essay but glimpse) of answers to priority items in the list above. After hearing your answer, interviewers should think… “hmm… this person may have what I am looking for. Let me explore further what this person said so I can confirm my hypothesis.” If you are able to do this, you have cracked it. You have shaped the interview.

What I said above assumes:

  • You know about the role and made correct (or reasonable) assumptions about priorities
  • You know about yourself (strengths, weaknesses etc. (not a laundry listing but a well thought out version) and have researched the company enough
  • You have spent enough time creating instances of excellence of what the interviewers will be looking for (e.g. for a research role, credible research you have done)

The second, though not a big deal, helped me crack the group discussion. Unlike a typical GD topic, we were told that the group has to come up with a list of five things. Together—a unanimous list—not my own or not someone else’s. Don’t remember what the list should comprise. But the time was just 5 min or so. For a normal GD topic, which could be discussed endlessly, your ability to put across a few strong points count. However, for this topic, it’s your ability to channel the group’s opinion that counts. The sooner you can come to the list, the better. What helped me crack this GD was that I suggested that we go around in a circle and tell what my own list was. If it had duplicates across everyone, then that item automatically qualifies to be in the final list. I am usually against a democratic ‘merry go around’ approach for a GD. But for this one, it seemed right.

It worked. Only that at the end, we had to sort of compromise on one or two in the list so we could complete the list ‘unanimously’. Thankfully, others in the group and I were willing to do that for the interest of the GD and our interviews!

So, this GD brought into picture, analytical, structuring, and timekeeping skills.

I hope this post was useful for those giving interviews.

Useful links:

Related posts:

  1. Interview prep!
  2. Iviews and a hole in my career plan
  3. Interview prep – again!
  4. Tsunami effect, placements and networking!
  5. Flash: IBM makes 12 + offers; gave a top 5 tech co interview



One Response to Tell me about yourself. No not THAT!

  1. vivekss says:

    Do irevna recruit undergrads….I am currently pursuing my BE Industrial Engg…I am interested in analytic job….We learn Multivariate and stats as apart of our curriculum….So is that possible for Engg to get placed in irevna….

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