Interviewee question: tell me about yourself

I just had an interview with a decent company. I think it went OK. I just want to ask your opinion on something.

In school, we had several accounting professors who were partners in big fours, some were CFOs, COO, and CAO. Basically they weren’t people from the street, they were successful individuals.

Whenever it comes to interview they always tell us to ASK QUESTIONS. Not only ask questions at the end, but also in the middle and in the beginning. They always put an emphasis on this.

Today I had an interview where the first question was tell me about yourself. After I finished answering, I asked the interviewer to tell me about herself. She gave me a smile like WTF you asking me questions/almost like rolling eyes, and did not answer the question.

Did I do something wrong? Should I have been one of those guys who should have waited until the end? I swear it was an awkward moment.

Well, yeah, you did something wrong. Asking questions is good advice but why would you ask her to tell you about herself?

You should be asking questions about the job and the company, not about person interviewing you. So the work environment matters but not specifically the personality of the interviewer. There are exceptions though – if you can ask the interviewer a question about them and the job, that’s good. Something like how long they’ve been there and how long they plan to remain (if the interviewer is leaving soon that might matter to you) could be appropriate. Something about their management style makes sense if you’d be working under the interviewer. Would you tell me what’s made you so successful here? would be a strong question to ask thanks to the embedded compliment. It doesn’t sound like ass-kissery but it ought to give the interviewer that warm fuzzy feeling that says you respect her.

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About the Author

James Trotta began teaching public speaking in 2002 and interview skills in 2008. Somewhere in between he began teaching intercultural communication, public speaking, and resume / cover letter writing.

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