By Lauren Berger, internqueen.com
We are right on the cusp of internship season and with that comes lots and lots of interviews – phone interviews, group interviews, in-person interviews, Skype interviews, and follow-up interviews. Seven out of ten times you are going to be asked the same first question in every interview that’s conducted by someone you haven’t spoken with before, and that’s: “Tell me about yourself.”
Employers ask this question for two reasons. First, it’s an easy ice-breaker. They are going to let you steer the ship for a moment, so how you communicate and answer this question is crucial. Second, if they aren’t exactly sure what to ask you first, they may be figuring out their next question while you answer question one (not ideal, but often true).
So how are you supposed to answer this question?
Your answer should be brief, focused, and bring it back to the employer at the end. Give the important information. What is your name? Where do you go to school? What’s your major? When did you graduate? Why do you want to work or intern at this specific company? While answering this question, you have to keep your focus tight – especially during phone or group interviews. The second you start trailing off on a tangent, the employer gets distracted and loses interest – they're human, too! As a rule, your answer shouldn’t be longer than two minutes.
By bringing your answer back to the company (why you want to work for this specific business), you are holding their interest and making it about the company. Also, when you talk about why you want to intern or work for the company, make sure your answer sounds educated. The employer should know by your answer that you’ve done your research, visited the company website, and ultimately are as knowledgeable as possible about the company. Make sure it doesn’t seem like you woke up one morning and randomly decided that this would be the place where you try to get an internship. Good luck!