Career Corner: The hardest and easiest interview question

Marc DeBoer

FDU Placement and Outreach Manager


No matter what kind of job you are interviewing for, there is a high probability that you will be asked the question, “Tell me about yourself.”

The common belief by most people is that this is the hardest question to be asked in an interview.

Why? Because there is no definitive answer to it. It is a question that you must practice and be prepared for.

For example, what if the question is not worded as, “Tell me about yourself”? It could be phrased in a variety of ways: “Why should I hire you?” or “What makes you stand out among the other applicants?” or “If you had 30 seconds with the CEO, what would you tell them about yourself?”

This is why it is so important to meet with Ryan, Kelly, Juli or myself. Every time we meet someone new, no matter where or when in life, we are essentially answering the “tell me about yourself” question. We need to take those principles and apply them to the interview.

But first, we must understand why the interviewer is asking this question.

Generally, it depends on when they are asking it: in the beginning, middle, or end of the interview. This helps us understand what kind of answer to give. When the question is asked, it will change your answer.

Also, it is important to remember that speed is a factor. Meaning, you do not want to take any pauses after the question is asked. You are essentially describing yourself; if you do not know the answer, then the interviewer will think you are lying.

If the question is asked at the beginning of the interview, they are most likely using it as an ice breaker. Your objective is to set up the interview for success by giving a good answer. You will want to summarize your skills as they relate to the job, describing why you are qualified and no one else is.

Discuss your past – high school, why you chose FDU, etc. – as well as your present and future. Why did you choose your major? Are you in any clubs or athletics? Do you volunteer? Have any interest in an internship or a full-time job?

It is not as common for the question to be asked in the middle. It’s at this point that the interviewer may feel they do not have a good understanding why they’re interviewing you or if you’re a good fit for the role.

They are looking to reassure themselves before they spend any more time with you. This is your opportunity to do just that; reassure them of your skills, why you are fit for this job, and redirect the interview to where you want it to go.

This can also be asked towards the end of the interview. This usually means that the interviewer wants to end the interview and they’re looking for a way to wrap it up.

Again, this is your opportunity to recap your qualifications. You do not want to repeat all the answers from your previous questions.

Instead, try to answer the question, “If I hire you today, what will I get from you?” Take this time to fill the interviewer in on anything you feel they missed about you.

This is your last impression and the last thing they will remember about you, so make it count!

Remember, this is a professional interview for a professional job, try to keep the personal stuff out of it as much as possible. They have a problem (an open job) and you need to represent yourself as the solution.

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