What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?
The student should probably address this question as the sum of his or her passions and strengths. After a brief introduction of the student to the interviewer (as this question is likely to come up early in the interview), the student should be prepared with which passions and strengths he or she is going to relay to the interviewer. By emphasizing these items, the student will improve his or her comfort level with the interview process and project positively to the interviewer. The student will be more relaxed the more he talks about himself or herself. Once relaxed, the real personality of that candidate is able to shine through. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for the student to have at least a few passions and interests ready to speak about before setting foot in the interview. Interviewers may not ask a question as open ended as “Tell me about yourself?” Still, they want to get to know a student and verify his or her suitability to the particular college.
Take advantage of the interview opportunity. Anticipate this question. Prepare a “preview” of your accomplishments, achievements, interests and strengths, your “talking points”, the foundation for your campaign to get the offer. The interviewer, who may not have reviewed, remembered or even had access to your application material, wants to find discussion topics which will reveal how you are a “fit” for them. Think about yourself from their perspective. What is relevant to them? What might they be looking for in an applicant?
Try to view the “tell me about yourself” question as an opportunity to shine. If you have done your homework, you know what would be convincing to them. Provide sufficient detail to entice them to ask more, but don’t recount all your best stories or start a long monologue. Respect the concept of the interview as a conversation, a “give and take,” where each person feels respected. Once they indicate which delicacy might be of interest to them from your hors d’oeuvres tray, be prepared to demonstrate in detail through clear, concise, effective and persuasive stories and examples, showing off your accomplishments, achievements, interests, qualities and strengths. Once you have provided your intriguing amuse-bouche and don’t skimp on the main course!
cover all the basis including personability, goals, achievements, challenges, background, and what type of schools is right for you.
This is your chance to step beyond the four corners of your application! If you want to talk about your grades and school activities because you feel that they accurately reflect your true and unique characteristics — then go for it. But if you feel that you are so much more than that — feel free to share your outside interests, interesting experiences, your family life, your part-time job, etc. You might be an avid reader or a huge fan of movies. You might have a lucrative babysitting business. You might have an impressive collection of rocks! Talk about those things! They make you — YOU! Remember — the interview isn’t about an academic evaluation — it’s to evaluate your suitability as a roommate and classmate!
For starters, don’t freak out! The interviewer uses this common question as an “ice-breaker even though it ends up being a “stumper” for many students. I find that reaction to be surprising. What did they think we’d be talking about? Your response to that initial question directs the flow of the conversation. Being prepared shows respect for the interviewer and gives you the ability to influence the outcome of the interview.
Be careful of adding in an obscure “what most people don’t know about me is….” in order to make yourself “memorable.” It’s a risky proposition unless it is something (a) you truly have in common with the interviewer (did you Google your interviewer or do you see that prized autographed baseball in his office?) or (b) relevant to an applicable quality, e.g. “my hobby is making model ships”, then emphasize your attention to detail and patient persistence.
This should be one of the easiest questions! You don’t have to study for it!
Try to enjoy your interviews. It’s all about you. Relax, and enjoy being the center of attention!
In answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself”, be perfectly open and honest. Talk about what is important to you – your interests, your relationships, your extracurricular activities, your hobbies, accomplishments of which you’re proud, what you’re interested in studying, why you think school X will be a great place for you to study, your family, your pets, how much you love your dog, an outstanding experience you’ve had… The list goes on! Let your enthusiasm come through. There’s no right or wrong answer! (Although, I personally think that saying, “Well, I just stay in the house all the time watching TV” would not be a very impressive answer. In fact, if that’s the case, you might want to work on that a bit.
When an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself they are simply trying to get to know who you are and what makes you the type of student that would add something to the school community. This isn’t a trick question…they really want to know about you! It’s important to be honest when responding to this question, though you will want to make sure your answer is appropriate in the context of the interview. Most interviewers want to know about your family background, your academic likes and dislikes, what you do in your free time (or what you would do if you HAD free time!), as well as your goals and aspirations in life. Believe it or not, most interviewers are not out to get you…it’s just as important for them to make sure you know what type of students feel most at home on their campus and your responses can help them gauge your “fit” at their school.
“Obviously, I’m qualified or I wouldn’t be here. I’m honest, friendly, have a passion to learn, I’ll surely make a difference here, I have the respect of my peers and elders alike, and I have a burning desire to join the Class of ’16. Surely these traits will make me acceptable.”
Talk about your academics, interests and community service.
In just about any interview situation, this questions is always the “lead off hitter.” I always thought about my answer to this one one the car ride to the interview since nobody else was with me, I was comfortable talking to myself. They want to know the basics: who are you? Your backgorund, interests, passions, and goals.
If someone asks you to tell them about yourself, please have a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version response ready. This is where it pays to be prepared. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to share something and if you haven’t thought ahead, you just might. They aren’t asking you to go back to the day you were born. Rather, they are interested in the recent past and your dreams/plans for the future. Feel free to include some humor in the conversation and not come across all grim and stressed. They want to see the real you, not some artificial version you’ve pulled out just for the interview. Be yourself, that’s who needs to “fit” at the school and they’re the ones who will be deciding.
Discuss your favorite class or teacher. Talk about how you enjoy spending your time outside of your studies. Have you read an interesting article or book that you can discuss intelligently with the interviewer? What is your favorite extracurricular activity and why do you enjoy it so much? Don’t be arrogant–be interesting and interested. As the interviewer about himself as well.
The roughest answers I heard to this question were largely a self-congratulatory series of adjectives, ‘what my friends would say about me,’ and other thinly veiled attempts to tell me what to think. One student even listed his awards, which was pretty insipid considering I had a copy of his resume in my hands.
The way to answer this question well is to tell a revealing story about yourself that can’t be found on an application. Tell us about the news story you follow in the newspaper, the event that feel really turned you on to your cause celebre, the instrument you play that most people have never heard of. The key is to be descriptive, to let the interviewer see through your eyes, taste through your tongue, feel through your fingers, smell through your nose and hear through your ears for a few minutes. A good anecdote goes a lot further than a leading series of recitations of the words “leadership” and “community service” and “out of the box,” all of which are overused and rarely require actually being said if you actually have an example of leading your community in an out-of-the-box way.
Knowing that this is typically how interviews begin, you should think about two or three points you want to make and devise an interesting way to state them that allows you to elaborate with purpose and direction. Do not start at the beginning and meander through your life story.
This question does catch many off guard because they began to give their life stories…do not make that mistake. The question should be answered from the vein of what your interviewing for…to enter colllege (academic information), for a job (work experience and special work related talents), for a scholarship (answers should relate to the mission of the scholarship). Leave your personal life personal.
Take the college’s perspective. They’re looking for applicants who will contribute to life on campus and who are a fit for the school. What might they be looking for in an applicant? What qualities do you bring? How did you affect your high school or local community and how will you benefit the college? Have a few memorable stories ready — actual examples to show your interests or activities. Have you led the debate team? Helped run a charity drive? Started a marine biology club? You’re on a campaign to persuade someone why you would benefit the school.
BE READY FOR THIS QUESTION. Practice your answer in advance, because it will be asked of you at some point during a college interview. Think about who you are, what your interests are, what type of personality you have. Tell me about yourself: ” I am a happy person and love to meet new people “, or ” I am a quiet person who enjoys learning and studying” or ” I am passionate about stray and neglected animals, I guess you could say I am very compassionate.” Think about this question, and talk to yourself about who you are and what you do so you are prepared.
Be honest. You are human. You have strengths and weaknesses–talk about them. Some of them are already apparent from other parts of the application process, but the interview allows you to expand upon them, and to put a human face on all that you have previously submitted. Talk about the people, the things, and the experiences that are and have been important to you. Share your passion and let the interviewer know what matters to you. Doing it all in a comparatively concise, but clear way allows the interview to serve as a window into who you are so they can see what you can bring to their school community.
I believe a question such as “Tell me about yourself.” is VERY broad. Keep in mind that all students applying to a college takes college prep classes, has a better than average grade point average, probably played some sport, etc… As the applicant, you want to “hook or catch” the reader with an interesting opening to your essay. Most teenagers can talk ALL day about themselves, but often have trouble writing about themselves. Ask your parents, grandparents, mentor, teachers, etc… Record their answered then compare them. Combine their responses and use that as your guide. Be sure to open with a sentence that makes them want to read on.
Be prepared to talk about an aspect of yourself which ties in with you application and why the college is of interest to you. Keep it brief and limited to three points.
A good interview is going to be like a good essay and relate the most important information the college is seeking: who are you and what do you bring to their college?
One way to address the “Who Am I?” type of question–and believe me there are many
variations on this question–Is to rehearse with a piece of notebook paper. Draw a line down the middle and on the left side, list all the things YOU HAVE DONE AND ENJOY DOING. On the right side list all the things YOU WANT TO DO, and HAVE YET TO DO.
Practice going through several of these explaining what you like doing and WHY. also
what you are looking forward to doing at college and WHY.
On one level we are what we do. The college wants to know who that is.
This open ended question can send students off topic if they don’t set out with a framework before answering. If there are interesting facts or sound bites about yourself or an experience that has shaped who you are, you may want to relate I here in the context of your life story. However, focus on your latest years of high school, because who you were in elementary or middle school was a different person than who you are now, as a soon-to-be high school graduate. If there are causes or issues about which you are passionate you can mention them here. Try to link your story to reasons why you are interested in their particular college.
“Obviously, I’m qualified or I wouldn’t be here. I’m honest, friendly, have a passion to learn, I’ll surely make a difference here, I have the respect of my peers and elders alike, and I have a burning desire to join the Class of ’16. Surely these traits will make me acceptable.
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