“Tell Me About Yourself” and Other Translations to Interview Questions

Posted June 15, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

If you’ve ever been through a job search, you know that every interview question is code for something else. It’s just a matter of figuring out what those questions mean. Here are a few of my favorite translations:

  • Tell me about your hobbies/what you do in your free time is really a way to ask if you’re married and have a family..legally.
  • Tell me about a time you’ve had to deal with a difficult personality generally means there’s a crazy boss somewhere in your future.
  • Why are you leaving your current position is a coded way of asking whether or not you’re a good employee who is still on good terms with her boss and company?

The Daily Muse recently tackled more of these types of translations with “Interview Translation: What 4 Common Questions Really Mean” and they hit the nail on the head. They even give great advice on the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” opening question. The Daily Muse tells us,

The interviewer already has your resume and cover letter, so she’s not looking for a rundown of your employment history. Nor does she care that you grew up in Boston and love to jog on the weekends. She’s looking for a pitch – one that’s concise, compelling, and keeps her attention, and one that tells her exactly why you’re the right fit for the job.

They are exactly correct. “Tell me about yourself” invites a bit of an elevator pitch, but not the one you give to someone who knows nothing about you, your background, or your career. This is the “why should you hire me” and “why am I here” time for you to shine.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."