There are a lot of questions that are bounced at us in each interview that we face, we prepare for each of them, except for one. This one particular question has mixed feelings associated with it – we think we will ace it, wing it or probably just be honest about it.
“Tell me about yourself” – Hearing these 4 magical words, a lot of emotions start running here and there in our system. Now while we’re eager to tell the other person all about ourselves, I want you to take a pause, breathe and think – why is the person asking you ‘about yourself in a job interview?
Before you spring answers on him about your favorite color, favorite food, favorite place, things that matter to you, etc., think long and hard about what is it that the employer wants to hear when he asks you “tell me about yourself”!
Telling a person about yourself should be a rather easy-breezy job, where you quote light-hearted things and go on with your business. It usually is that way, but not in a job interview.
This can create a recruitment dilemma for you – because when an employer asks you about yourself, they’re studying your personality, your cognitive skills, and your overall basic psychology.
Now, it’s a good thing that we can stir the answer to this in our favor.
How? I have been analyzing how professional assessments of personality might differ from those made by people who are untrained in perceiving others. I read an article by Dan McAdams, a professor at Northwestern University, who noted that ” … psychologists must seek first and foremost to know persons.” With that professional goal in mind, he asked the following elegant question: “What do we know when we know a person? What does it take to know a person in a scientific way?”
Well, there are three levels to knowing a person;
LEVEL 1 consists of expansive general traits such as intelligence, shyness, outspokenness, etc.
LEVEL 2 provides the person’s personal concerns such as strategies, coping skills, personal strivings, etc. Insight about a person at this level helps one understand their life goals, their personal timelines, their possible milestones, etc. Now once you know a person in a way that you’re able to recognize their general traits and their personal concerns, what do you think remains?
LEVEL 3 helps you understand their identity. This includes the mindsets of individuals, their ideologies, and their compositions. Basically their personality. This helps to assure that the professional perceiver’s critique of personality is as close to the reality of the person as is scientifically possible.
These stages along with an individual’s personal traits help the interviewer recognize their competence, their ability to acquire skills and to consciously use them.
In simple words, these components help in identifying the blind spots and helping us understand the further scope.
Now that we understand the know-how of things that directly and indirectly influence the decision once take to listen to things about ourselves, let’s comprehend how we can implement this understanding into our personalities.
What is personality development?
It is a process by which the organized thought and behavior patterns that make up a person’s unique personality emerge over time.
The factors that influence an individual’s personality comprises genetics, upbringing, and social variable.
While we have no control over our genetics and upbringing, the social variables are things that we discussed above. Mostly intangible and flexible. Perhaps, it is the continuous interaction of all these influences that continue to shape personality. Personality entangles not only inborn traits but also the development of cognitive and behavioral patterns that affect how we think and act.
Personality development tips –
If you’re interested to put all the above knowledge to good use, these tips might help you introduce yourself better.
- Identify your current traits. Do a SWAT analysis.
- Try to relate or mold it to the requirement of the interviewer.
- Set a daily development goal. Realistic one.
- Be confident. You are who you are, own it.
- Keep a positive mindset. Working on yourself is a difficult thing, be consistent, patient, and positive.
Understanding how personality develops and evolves can provide insight into others, as well as into ourselves.
I hope this piece today will help you ace the “tell me about yourself” question better.
About the author:
Zufeen Khan is a practicing counseling psychologist. She carries rich work experience in child abuse, emotional trauma, and personality development, and certifications in ACT, Trauma-Informed Therapy, CBT, and Oxford diploma in grief counseling and therapy among others. She crafts strategies that allow you to address the root cause of your challenges and develop meaningful solutions that focus on happiness and life balance. With an easy-going demeanor, she’s a rapport builder and proficient in creatively encouraging maximum participation.