Tell me about yourself?

Why most of the interviews start with this question?  As we have learnt from our previous article, interview is not a question and answer session but an interpersonal situation where the interviewer tries to find the candidates suitability for the required position.  Here the interviewer expects you to interact with him freely towards maximising the arena. (To know more about arena read "What is an interview?").

Feeling nervous for the first time in doing anything new is common.  Especially, if it is the most important situation like interview, it is obvious.  Also most people are attending an interview for the first time in their lives   Interviewer also understands this, and wants to make your nerves calm down before starting to explore your strengths and weaknesses.  With this backdrop, Which question is the best one to be asked so that you feel comfortable and relaxed? It is none other than "Tell me about yourself".

So What we need to cover in this question? How many of you think that the following list of things should be included in your introduction
1.  Name 2. college 3. Branch 4. Father name 5. Father's occupation 6. Mother's name 7. Mother's occupation 8. Your SSC marks and School name 9. Your Intermediate marks and college name 10. Hobbies and Interests 11. Your aspirations 12. Your co curricular activities

Now think from the interviewer point of view.  He expects your introduction should act as a platform to discuss your abilities and interpersonal skills.  Look at the video below.

Very interesting video, is it not? If you take the girl as the interviewer, and the boy as the candidate, Unless you understand what are the interviewer requirements, what ever you do just in vain. Now we ask the right question. What the interviewer expects from a prospective candidate? We can get this by observing the job description of the position which you are applying. For most advertised jobs, the company clearly mentions what they are expecting from the people.  But in case of campus interviews this information is difficult to find. But we got a small excerpt from HP's ad for entry level software engineers.  Observe
Job - Engineering
Primary Location - India
Schedule - Full-time
Job Type - Graduate Job
Shift - Day Job
Job Description 
Systems/Software Engr I - Graduate Job-1002955
Entry Level Software Engineering Role :
Designs, develops, troubleshoots and debugs software programs for software enhancements and new products. Develop and validate software products in the domain of manageability, virtualization and cloud solution software. Develop high quality software using the Java language, J2EE frameworks (including EJB and Web container frameworks) and associated build and test tools  for meeting the needs of the products and solutions.  Utilizes professional concepts and theoretical knowledge acquired through specialized training, education or previous experience. Exercises independent judgment within defined parameters. Develops expertise and practical knowledge of applications within business environment. Acts as team member by providing information, analysis and recommendations in support of team efforts.
Job Description :
Codes and programs enhancements, updates, and changes for portions and subsystems of systems software, including managebaility software , utilities, databases and tools
Executes established test plans and protocols for assigned portions of code; identifies, logs, and debugs assigned issues.
Develops understanding of and relationship with internal and outsourced development partners on software systems design and development.
Participates as a member of project team of other software systems engineers and internal and outsourced development partners to develop reliable, cost effective and high quality solutions for low to moderately-complex products.
Education Qualification & Work Experience:
·         BE/BTech from a Tier 1 Engineering institute
·         Field of education - Computer Science, Information Science and Technology, Electronics Engineering etc.
·         Strong academic record (minimum of 70% aggregate score)
  Competency Requirements:
·         Passion and deep technical competency in basic computer science and software engineering principles and processes.
·         Strong problem solving skills
·         Competent programming aptitude with excellent computation skills
·         Self motivated to continuously upgrade one's knowledge, keep abreast of latest developments in the software engineering field and evaluate its application in the business area on a consistent basis.
Exceptional commitment to stay focused in one's pursuit towards excellence with demonstrated results of the same.
You can see from the above job description, the company is expecting you to be good at java along with good academics.  These qualities will be tested in Technical Interview.  They also specified clear competency requirements.  Now this part comes under HR. So how to frame answer for this question?  Every employer wants to see some specific qualities in every job aspirant 1.  A proven track record of your achievements be it academics or extracurricular activities. 2.  Confidence and positive attitude 3.  Good problem solving skills 4.  Learning attitude 5.  Ability to handle pressure 6.  Team work 7.  Leadership skills 8.  Articulation 9.  Integrity 10.  Dedication towards to work So you have to include the elements which add more value to your introduction than including what you did in all you college years.  It doesn't make any impact.  Interviewer thinks like this.  If you performed well in your past academics, you perform well in your future job also. Along with your achievements, your extra curricular activities like participation  in paper presentations, elocution and essay writing competitions communicates your proactive nature as you are managing both your academics and other activities.  Once you will be given a job, not only do you complete the work given, but also take initiatives to learn new things and bring lot of value to your team. The above introduction fits good for studious students,  If you don't have good academics, the case will become tricky.  You will have to start preparing for interview atleast 5 to 6 months before you sit for your first interview.  You have to develop certain competencies which compensates your bad academics.  For example, you start learning C or JAVA and have become proficient, interviewer still prefers your profile.  So for the people who are not good at their acads, they are expected to be good at Arithmetic,  reasoning and English along with good command over one technical subject. Some companies exempt students who are toppers or who got good percentages in academics.  But always keep in your mind that you get aleast a few number of questions on arithmetic and puzzles in technical interview and HR interview.  So being good at acads does not exempt you to prepare for aptitude. One last thing, It really helps to take atleast 2 video mock interviews with detailed feedback from professionals.  It helps you a lot.  Because we commit lot of mistakes unknowingly. ( Read about blind spots in "What is an interview'?).