Blog - the bodhi
How to answer "Describe Yourself"

  • The fairly common question has stumped and continues to catch countless candidates off-guard with its elusive insidious simplicity and deceptively unassuming appearance. Many technically-sound and promising applicants have fallen to it. So how does one answer something that is so close to ourselves that we hardly realise its presence. Here are some helpful guidelines to nail this typical maiden, groundwork-establishing question and launch your interview into the stratosphere :

    1. Begin Normal & Mundane – It is always good to stick to the basics with your start. Experimentation with the Introduction section more often than not backfires and registers your foremost impression as confused, unaware, disorganised, ill-prepared, reckless, or casual. Almost all great responses share a common core. The cornerstone of your response should always be formulaic. It does well to get the basics right on point - name, background, hailing, profile, et cetera. Be meticulous about sticking to the time-tried and tested. It is important to not miss out anything important, not include anything too specific among the fundamentals, and lend equal stress and time share to each point and aspect. For example, elaborating on the lives of your cousins appears as grotesque a misstep in a time-bound interview as missing to mention your name or profession. With the introduction, the goal is to tick off all the essential checkboxes. Here, the marking criterion is more inclined to disfavour those who miss a common essential than favour those who include an innovative rarity. Being radical or avant-garde here can come across as unserious, off-putting or even disrespectful. Deviating from the elementary script early on is interpreted as impertinence and can be taken as a mark of moodiness, unreliability, and recalcitrance.

    2. Elaborate Far and Wide – Your description should be fluent, sincerely spouting from the depths of your consciousness, drawn out by your metacognition. Fluency testifies genuinity here. Embrace the tree model here -- branch off, gravitate back, and always adhere to the surface no matter how high your rise or far you reach out. Keep it diverse, vibrant, and interesting yet firmly-grounded and humbly-anchored at all times. A touch of ambition and self-confidence never hurts but vagueness or teleportation between career and personality vertices is a definite no-go. Continuity, Connectedness, and Relevance must be minded and adhered to with sanctitude. Move gradually from the general to the specific, making too specific points or furnishing too sharp quality details too quick can make you appear fickle, impetuous, vain, and idiosyncratic. Continuing to drone on with general points and cliched, overused descriptors such as “hardworking”, “team-worker”, and “passionate”, that almost all previous candidates have spammed to the point of diluting their effect on the interviewer, is unlikely to make you stand out in their eyes. You may start with generic descriptors but then elaborate into your specific, unique skill points, personality quirks, preferences, and fortes, because let’s face it nobody is omnipotent and ideal. Make sure what you are saying is palpable in your personality and evident in your profile. Be specific and ensure that the points made by you in your favour tie in nicely with your resume and SoP. Let your speech be consistent with, substantiate, justify, expand upon, and defend your documentation and written statements. Distribute your focus equitably and justly on various points of your profile and personality. Make yourself stand-out with fine, thoughtful, deep, and articulate introspection. Metacognition and self-analysis are vital, have a truthful and natural-seeming opinion of yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses, inside-out. An interview question shouldn’t be answered by a trope or a pick-up line. You may use quotes but make it known (declare explicitly), whose it is, and avoid using standard lines picked off interview guides. Your seasoned interview-taker is almost always familiar with them and their use won’t let them have a high opinion of you. Neither appear too mechanical nor too kitschy, flamboyantly loose-lipped, and overtly, obviously hyperbolic. Being a phoney is often as bad as appearing to be a robot. Be your unique self, put forth your true inner motivation (what drives you), set yourself apart from the crowd by focussing on your unique set of intersecting skills, your X-Factor, and what unique value you bring to the table (what novelty you can add to the team and what innovative or creative value you can contribute to the venture) and let the interviewer in on your unique personal journey, struggle, and genuine achievement in order to stand out from the rest. Be a storyteller, consistent, fluid, motivated, and engaging. Sustain the momentum, have your ups and downs, take the interviewer on a comfortable exploration, a comfy adventurous ride down your career line.

    3. Finish Memorable – The ending of your self-description should be well-timed. It shouldn’t appear abrupt or render truncated and lopsided because the interviewer cut you off because of protraction. Always be mindful of the time limit (which varies from interview to interview), don’t exceed or fall short of it by more than a margin of 10%. Overshooting makes you appear ill-planned, stopping short of the normal stipulation makes you appear ill-prepared. Your conclusion should symmetrically summarise your points, be forward-looking and future-promising, and linger on the minds of the interviewer with a lasting taste and imprint. At the end of the day, it’s the well-roundedness and distinctiveness of one’s profile that matters, one must first fully fit the bill and then rise high prominently in the vertical dimension. So, a good self-description should meet all basic criteria and then showcase your USP, how you can afford insightful views from taking things to new heights. It is thus vital that your ending does justice to the entirety of your profile, the timing, as well as makes you stand out in the interviewer’s eyes, beyond being just another interviewee.
  • July 10, 2021  by biofie content team
  • Written by biofie content team
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