In the previous post on Interviews the opening question was emphasized as very important to the success of an interview. I am sharing a few thoughts. Hope it is of some help to the prospective candidate.

This question must be used as an opportunity to make your first impression. The interviewer wants you to settle down and make a decent start. His aim is to relieve you of anxiety and nervousness. What you say at this point can have a significant impact on him. It may help the interviewer to gain some ground to field subsequent questions.

Most candidates come well prepared for the opening question. But do not make a hasty start. A small pause will help you to compose your thoughts. It gives an impression that you think before you speak.

E.g., some interviewer may ask you a series of questions all- together in a deliberate tone and in a clear accent – you’re early background, relationship with your parents, your friends your teachers and which games you liked and school

Waiting for the interview

and college activities.

He wants to test your comprehension, recall ability and how well did you listen to him. So concentrate and give your answers in the same sequence. Be as brief as you can and don’t waste your best points at this stage. Answer fully all the points in the same sequence that you were asked – don’t stop or break the flow even if you cannot remember any one point in the sequence. Move on to the next point

Some interviewer may ask an open-ended question – ‘tell me about yourself’. Reply in brief the three points mentioned in Para above. Do not to repeat resume points as the interviewer has read the same in your resume. Also go easy on your achievements save it for later.

Lastly remember a seasoned interviewer wants to be friends with you! So do make your narration interesting and vibrant. Give the interviewer something to remember you about.

Wish you all the best 🙂

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About dilipnaidu

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are reading, music, growing culinary herbs, playing golf and yoga. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

18 responses »

  1. girish says:

    Respected sir,

    The art of listening and flawless communication in interview is very important with very invigorating learning from the beautiful article.

    Regards

    Girish Kohli

    Like

  2. sumit narayankar says:

    hi……….

    yours organization sirs Mr.Saroj Tiwari sir had visited recently to
    SPM Polytechnic Kumthe , Solapur.

    I was present in that guest lecture and it was very different and very new type of help to the upcoming students . It was very cool lecture ………………..

    Like

  3. Anusha says:

    Hi Sir,

    This is the first time I have read through this blog. It is amazing. Keeps what ever we studied and more fresh in our minds.

    I recently went in for an interview and had the funniest experience. The interview was being taken by the GM. He did most of the talking about himself and his experiences and hardly gave me a chance to say a word about my self. It was such an wired interview and I spent 20 mins there. It was like he was giving me a lesson in Career Growth.

    Any suggestions on what to do in these kinds of situations?

    Regards
    Anusha

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Wow Anusha,

      Thanks for calling on. I am delighted and honored. Your comments made me smile because I have seen this happen in quite a few corporate interviews. At times the CEO or the head of a division gets carried away and it becomes tough for the panel to get to know the strengths of the candidate.

      Your own experience can easily be labelled asa case of a ‘reverse interview’ 🙂 and in such times there is little that you can do. But knowing you I am sure the GM had already decided to select you for his company.

      Thanks once again and best regards.

      Like

  4. Excellent write-up! So true when you say that pause is very important. Confidence and belief in yourself can be two big assets in any interview.

    Like

  5. Dilip says:

    I had put up this question on LinkedIn. The answers from some of the experts are given below for you as they add a global view to our question and are highly enriching.

    @ Ena Jesani
    Director at Saxon Consulting London Ltd where WYNIWYG
    Despite some cynicism here, this is a really important question in interviews, I always regard this is one of the most important when I am interviewing for new staff. this where I judge how much of what I have read is exaggerated or underplayed.

    There’s not point going through education, skills, attributes if the panel have a copy of your CV or application in front of them! We don’t want to hear things we already know. But we do want to see your communication skills, whether you are genuine, passionate. We want to hear a short narrative about how you have arrived in front of the panel today, what has driven you and what your aspirations for the future look like. Experienced interviewers can smell desperation, lies, cover-ups and smart Alecs a mile away, in the same way, experienced members of SMT in companies can spot potential talent.

    @Stephanie Jezick
    Supply Chain
    I was asked this question on all my interviews, this is how I responded.
    “After being a homemaker for many years I entered the workforce and was energized by challenges and problems. I do whatever it takes to get the job done, sometimes working 10 hr days. I’m a wiz at analzing data and transforming it into useful information. I also pride myself on my record of being dependable and never missing deadlines.
    This might not be good since I am still unemployed. Any suggestions?

    @Dave Meeks
    Corporate Recruiter
    Where would you like me to start?

    @Rita Al Merei
    Owner, The Recruitment Assistant
    Do just that – when I am interviewing someone and ask this question – I am looking for a brief synopsis, for example:- I graduated from abd in cdg, and have done this job a at company b for 6 years, I then progressed to xyz. I am married, with 3 children and in my spare time enjoy karate and learning Japanese.

    You get the idea – it’s an opportunity for you to brief what is on your resume, but also give the interviewer a taste of what you are about as a person, but be careful to not speak for too long.

    On one thing you are right, this is an important question and can make a difference so you are quite right in giving thought to the response.

    @Alexandre Aussedat
    Bibliothèque nationale de France
    Maybe your answer to this question is a door that your employer would like to open, so be smart in your attitude, avoid to hesitate, and have bright thoughts during the interview.
    The best point is to be in a good mood and to keep on explaining who you are exactly actually, so be precise in the examples you gives.
    Just express your feelings but pay attention to the manager in front of you, and be persuasive while speaking about your career and your own history.
    Avoid to be elusive, and be fast in your argumentation, you will convince that you are a leader.

    @Meltem Kogelbauer ©
    Senior Analyst at CMA ~~~ Founder & Trustee of CCE Research Alliance
    I agree with Donna “This is a good question. It can be a show stopper if people aren’t prepared for it.”

    On the other hand, there is no right or wrong answer to it. This is really about YOU. Simply explain yourself. Think about the big highlights of life in education and professional life. What are the important things happened and/or what achievements you had and so on. The things that made YOU become YOU today.

    Use “active” voice in your sentences, “I have done xyz” “I achieved zyx”.
    You can also add if you have any voluntary activities or sportive activities or any other hobbies which you think might bring any value. Have variety.

    What bores me big time is when people only talk about what they have done in their previous company only.

    Do not pretend to be something you are not.

    @Madan Kumar M. Kamath
    Asst Brand Manager at UB Group
    There are two reasons the interview asks this question.

    1. To make you comfortable and open you up for the real interview
    2. To check your thought process, you emotions and how you feel about yourself, which is very important.

    First of all don’t blurt out what’s written in the resume. They are looking for your description of your life, not a computer generated print out.

    Tell them how you started your professional education, what was it that made you move into this field. How you last few years in your previous jobs has been, and how you’ve learnt and improved yourself. Tell them what you do in your free time. (please don’t say read books and listen music-80% of those who say this have no clue of the latest music album release, nor have a favorite author) Come towards a logical ending, that how you’ve been wanting to learn something new, and take more responsiblity and this was a good opportunity.

    It isn’t really necessary that you tell them your name again, where you were born (unless that indicates a cultural advantage. For example for an international job role, it would be helpful mentioning that you spent your childhood in that particular country), what colours you like, and which brand of perfume you use…

    The Interviewer wants to know you as a person, as a candidate who has come for an interview. Not a potential bride/groom for his son/daughter.

    Most importantly, DONT LIE and DONT Exaggerate.

    Hope this helps!!!

    Keep smiling
    Madan

    @Deborah Rooney, M.S., Ed.
    Marketing Manager at Civiltech Engineering, Inc.
    * Highlight your education and training
    * Highlight your accomplishments in previous positions
    * Share how you take initiative and proactively solve challenges
    * Share examples of skills you’ve sharpened in your roles
    * Explain how your talents and experiences will help you succeed in the position for which you’re interviewing (spell it out so this employer can easily picture you in that role, the sole reason for this question)

    …keeping in mind throughout this brief, concise synopsis that your monologue is designed to promote yourself as an articulate, value-added asset to this employer. Know your audience and know your specific outstanding strengths as a candidate. Confidence and a smile will set you apart.

    Thanks 🙂

    Like

  6. Dilip says:

    Walaikum assalam Sikander,

    Excellent response. All the three points are fine tips that will surely help. I am thankful to you for sparing your time and participating.

    With best wishes to you and take care. Regards.

    Like

  7. Sikander says:

    Walequm- as- salam

    True, when the interview asked this question ( tell me about yourself) its a great opportunity for the candidate to ease his/her nerve and be as cool as possible. But for me confidence play a very vital role to clear the interview. Any candidate who is going for an interview he/she must be confident they must not think about the outcome of the interview at the time of attending it.
    I want to mention another important point here,The first 20 – 30 seconds is very vital because within this time the interviewer makes up his/her mind about the candidate whether to accept or reject the candidate. How to enter the room, when to sit, how to walk when entering the room is very important.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Sikander

    Like

  8. Sahajo says:

    Thank you Sir and to all for your wonderful insights!

    Having gone through different experiences in number of interviews, I feel Telling about Yourself- by being “yourself” is very important during an interview. Though we are fully prepared for these type of questions, we commit mistakes and therefore, I feel answering spontaneously (from within) has a great impact on the interviewer.

    Also, decision-making in most of the organizations takes place by the ‘intuition’ (also called as a ‘gut-feeling’ or ‘that comes from within’) of a decision-maker. And as it has become a requirement for the companies in decision-making, this quality can be easily judged during an interview process by the interviewer.

    Mentioning of our ‘role’ in the activities we are engaged in other than the college activities creates a great impression on the interviewer which helps them understand our capabilities and the extent of responsibilities that we have already handled.

    During my last year of graduation, we had about 8 campus interviews conducted in our college. And each time I appeared for the interview, the interview appeared to be a learning for me which then helped me in improving further.

    So, I would say ‘GRAB THE OPPORTUNITY’ and face number of interviews. If you get selected, think that the job was yours and if you don’t, think that it was never yours; because before appearing for the interview too, the job was never yours.

    Thank you…

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Hi Sahajo,

      Your view are based on experience and as such add plenty of value. I had never given intuition a place in my own experience in this field. This is a powerful concept and may be difficult for many.

      Your have given excellent insights for grads to face their interviews. Thanks a ton.

      Regards.

      Like

  9. Pallavi says:

    Thank you all for their insights on this question.

    Like

  10. Hi Dilip-

    Nice catching up in Pune…..

    Teaching ‘Career Management’ I tell students- This is a warm-up question asked upfront. This is a big chance to sell oneself, so one should go for it. “Outline the skills and personal qualities that are relevant to the job. The interviewer wants to know how you are going to behave in the role, so draw on real-life ancedotes to illustrate the points you make,” says Lynn Williams, author of “The Ultimate Interview Book”

    What the hiring manager really wants is a quick, two- to three-minute snapshot of who you are and why you are the best candidate for the applied position. So as you answer this question, talk about what you have done to prepare yourself to be the very best candidate for the position. No life histories please….. Could use a joke but not sure if that would go down well- so best be serious but calm…

    Hope this helps….

    Cheers
    -Vijay Pereira
    Senior Lecturer,
    Portsmouth Business School, UK.

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Hi Vijay,

      How nice of you to contribute your valuable insights on this question. What I gather from you and other friends is that there is no one right approach. I guess if the candidate can manage to make the introduction by being spontaneous and natural it is best.

      Thanks and look forward to meet you in your next visit here 🙂

      Regards,

      Dilip

      Like

  11. Rahul Desai says:

    Hi Dilip,

    Interestin topic and a great value add to job seekers, especilly, students.

    I have about 7 years of exp in software and 10 years of exp in Recruitment & training and we are also into Employability training for institues under a brand name RishiCool and this has been one of my favourite question for interview and topic for training.

    I have a little different view here. I feel, its an opportunity for the candidate to not only present his/her profile well but also an opportunity to take charge of the interview from the interviewer’s hand. Based on what he says, emphasises and pauses on, he is bound to get questions. So if planned well, its a great opportunity to crack the interview.

    Regards
    Rahul
    rahul@rishicool.com

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Hi Rahul,

      Thanks for calling on and for your comments. RishiCool is an interesting enterprise. I am sure we can fall back on you when a need arises.

      I appreciate your point on “opportunity to take charge of the interview from the interviewer’s hand”. However all candidates may not be able to do this easily. But if the confidence is there then ‘why not’?

      Thanks and regards.

      Like

  12. Geetha says:

    Dear Sir,

    “So do make your narration interesting and vibrant. Give the interviewer something to remember you about. ”

    Thank you for these great summing up lines! They definitely needed to be ‘highlighted’.

    An interview is a short window of opportunity to create a striking first impression and the best way to establish memorability is for the candidate to be passionate about his/her true self. That genuine passion is something that cannot be masked/faked.

    Like Emerson once wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

    Passion or Mojo focuses on that which lies within us, what we do with it, and how others perceive it resonating from us.

    And this is where one’s communication skills also come to the fore because there is nothing more moving or powerful than the power of the Word when beautiful language is married to deep passion.

    And employers would also do well to remember what Stephen Covey has said in The 8th Habit:

    “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external. Just think about the times when you were passionate about a project, something that was so compelling and absorbing that you could hardly think of anything else. Did you need to be managed or supervised? Of course not; the thought of being told when and how to do it would have been insulting. ”

    Thanks and regards,

    Geetha

    Like

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