Tell Me About Yourself

Recently, I have been back in the interview process gauntlet. Over the years, I have learned quite a few interviewing techniques. But I learned that answering a basic and common question takes you a long way.

Today, we’ll look at one of the most commonly and frequently asked questions:

Tell me about yourself

As a technologist, my immediate answer was something like this:

I’m a software developer with over 10 years of experience. I specialize on .NET technologies using ASP.NET MVC, SQL Server, and C#. Also, I’m interested in JavaScript and some front-end development like React. I’m a clean-code advocate. I can work alone or in a team.

Err…wow that’s a bit embarrassing.

Tell me about yourself not what you do

This is a common mistake I have been doing for years. From reading my answer above, did you learn anything about me? Nope.

Hell, I don’t even recognize myself on that answer.

As software developers, I know we tend to get attached to our code. But let me remind you, you are not your code.

You are more than just your code is one of the rally cries of MindBodySoulDeveloper.com

So, let me tell you about myself

Here’s my revised answer:

I’m a pretty active guy. I enjoy running every other day, and go for longer distances on the weekends. I also enjoy great local food and adventures with my family (road trips!). Sometimes, I try to play video games, but usually fall asleep after a long and busy day with my two boys.

Now you know a little more about me. It’s enough to awaken interest of others by given them some insights into who I am, not what I do.

Also, it’s short, sweet and straight to the point. (I’d probably tweak it in the future).

Does it really work?

Yep.

I call shenanigans. This can’t possibly work…or can it?

I know you are probably reading this with a question mark. Don’t worry, I was skeptical just like you.

Since I’m risk taker, I decided to put this to the test on two recent face-to-face interviews.

Here are some responses:

On running

  • A nod signaling “Not bad”.
  • “What is it with people and running in this company?” with a friendly smile.
  • “Great, we have a yearly company 5K!”
  • “This guy here”, pointing to the other interviewer, “is a rock climber.”
  • “Such commitment” with an acceptance nod.

On local food

  • Did you go to the food truck rodeo this year?
  • You came to live in right area!

This is a great way to break the ice and relieve some tension.

(Believe it or not, someone interviewers also get nervous or anxious).

Giving this type of answer opens up into other conversations. It made it more personal rather than just another candidate they have to interview. In other words, it helps you stand out in a good way.

The interviewers may end up being your teammates. People who you’ll interact with every day for 8 hours/day.

You think: Can I get along with these guys/girls?
They think: Can we get along with this person?

This critical when it comes to culture fit for both sides!

Non-technical interviewers

This is where my answer shined.

In addition to breaking the ice and relieving some tension, my answer demonstrated that I’m capable of communicating without using jargon. That I do more than just sit by my computer and pump out code.

ASP.NET MVC, C#, SQL…what?

Believe it or not, not everyone wants to learn to code. It’s not their interest or passion and you have to deal with it.

As a software developer, your main job is to solve a problem. It may involve code and/or having to talk/work with others. And that includes non-technical team mates.

Where did this idea come from?

It came from Robbe D. Morris‘s Pluralsigh course: Resumes, Job Seeking, and Interviews in Context

InterviewQuestions

Whether you are a new developer or a seasoned veteran, I suggest you watch the entire course. It definitely changed how interview.

Wrapping it up

When answering the common Tell me About Yourself question, don’t fall into the trap of giving the common answer.

Say something about you, not what you do.

So, tell me about yourself in the comments below. Maybe we give each other feedback!

Feel free to use my “template” above as a starting point but don’t forget to make it yours.

(If you are a bit shy and would like some feedback still, you can reach me at jose@MindBodySoulDeveloper.com)