Please include tips for the readers on how to present yourself during interviews. In particular, what do you say or what aspects of yourself do you talk about when an interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself.” In my case, I asked the interviewer, “What in particular would you like me to talk about?” And the interviewer replied “Everything about yourself.” Also, kindly give your readers tips on who makes good references aside from former employers and relatives. – Confused Jobseeker
HR managers and interviewers do have that habit of starting an interview with a sweeping statement like, “Tell me about yourself.” Often, it is asked just to start the ball rolling, so to speak. At other times, it is a way to gauge the interviewee’s ability to answer smartly such a general statement.
If I were the interviewee, I would welcome such a general question. It would be a good opportunity to cite how my qualifications can measure up to the specifications for the position. Let me tell you right off, for HR people, job specifications are serious business. Hiring is done based on these specifications. If you don’t meet the minimum specifications for the job, chances are you won’t be even be interviewed, much less hired (unless the hiring process is twisted somehow with a special recommendation that makes an exception in your case.)
For example, you are applying for the position of Corporate Planning Analyst in a prestigious department store. The specifications for the position are: between 24 to 35 years old, graduate of Industrial Engineering, Business, Economics or Finance course, preferably with experience in corporate planning and financial analysis, must have strong analytical and interpersonal skill, must have excellent communication skills, and must be computer literate.
In the interview, you are asked to tell “everything about yourself.” The following could be your spiel:
“I graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in 1987 with a degree in Economics. I have five years experience in corporate planning having been Corporate Planning Assistant in Philippine Daily Inquirer since 1987. In this position, I have done financial analysis for three new business projects for the company. I have also done the analysis of economic trends for our yearly planning report for the past two years. In my job, I coordinate with all the department heads in my company to facilitate their participation in the planning process for the company. I am able to hone my communication skills through regular report writing and presentations to the Management Committee. I am proficient in all MS Office applications, PageMaker and Photoshop. While I am just turning 26, I have been able to get a wide-ranging exposure to corporate planning work in my present position that I am sure can be applied to the requirements of the position you are filling.”
If you notice, in this short spiel, you have been able to cite the specifications for the position and that you meet each specification with flying colors. Of course, during the interview, your educational background, work experience, training and other personal information will be discussed in more detail. Do not hesitate to quickly tie up relevant information on your qualifications to the specifications listed in the job ad.
Rules for references
With regard to references, aside from previous employers and relatives, you can also include teachers who had a high regard for your academic performance while you were in their classes or who you worked with in your extra-curricular activities in school.
You can also include the people you’ve worked with during your practicum. Other good references are your colleagues in the office or in the industry who you have done projects with or who know how you work. Just make sure though in giving references, to always ask the permission of the person concerned before including their names in your resume so that when they are asked for their recommendations, they will quickly remember you and put in a good word for you.
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