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Yewande Jinadu: Tips for Young Graduates on Navigating the First Hurdle Question During Interviews

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A lot of young people, at interviews, get confused when they’re faced with the‘Tell me about yourself?’ question. It comes as the first question and will definitely set the tone of how the interview will go on.

Firstly, you have to understand that this is not a trap question. It’s just a harmless question to start the conversation. This question can determine the progression or the end of the conversation. Interviews are meant to assess a whole lot of things ranging from your thought process, to your communication skills to your confidence. Here are some points to note:

1. Things that are IRRELEVANT in your introduction
Sometimes, when we hear, tell me about yourself, we think we are expected to tell them personal things which is wrong. Keep your answer professional. Don’t say your age, state of origin, local government area, tribe, family history/background, number of children etc. Personal family problems and ‘stories that touch’ should be avoided in your introduction.

2. Things that are RELEVANT in your introduction
For a fresh graduate, you can include your course of study and your grade (if you finished with a 2:1 and above, if not disregard it unless asked). You can also include your internship or volunteer experience with a brief introduction of your responsibilities and achievements.

Don’t be too humble about the impacts you have made in those short internships, because that’s what will sell you and make you attractive to prospective employers (for an inexperienced fresh graduate). You can also discuss relevant technological skills you possess like your proficiency in some software relevant to the job. Please do not talk about your proficiency in a software that is irrelevant e.g an engineering graduate applying for a customer care role talking about his/her proficiency in AUTOCAD or PDMS etc. Your ability to type very fast on MS Word would be an advantage in that kind of role.

It’s important to avoid clichés like ‘I am a team player, I am organized, I am dependable’ etc. Anyone can say that, rather you can shortly describe a scenario to back up a skill you feel is your strength.

3. Skills and Traits that recruiters are looking out for in a fresh graduate
It’s important to do a proper research about the company you are going to be having an interview with and understand their values and their business. Recruiters are mostly looking for someone who would fit their culture. You may be wondering how you can get that information. Go to their social media pages, newsletter, website, blog etc and see the way their staff are.

They are mostly looking for someone that can engage them in a reasonable discussion so if the interview diverts, they are looking to see your thought process in addressing simple issues.

They are looking for someone with a good attitude and disposition and not just someone who is desperate to just get a job. Attitude will be tested when they ask you competency based questions and how you would handle a scenario if confronted with it.

Your confidence is also very important when introducing yourself. Although the environment of an interview can be tense, try to remain calm and maintain eye contact.
If they give you a rolling chair, please ensure you don’t start rolling around like it’s in a playground, this can be a turn-off.

4. Things to avoid during an introduction
Do not talk too much. Let your introduction be less than 2 minutes. Talking too much can make the recruiter bored and tired even before starting.

Try to prepare what you would say ahead but don’t say it in a rehearsed and robotic way.
Some interviewers would ask you to talk more even after a brief introduction, do not shoot yourself in the foot by diverting to irrelevant things, ask them to provide clarity on things they would like you to discuss on so that you don’t eventually look stupid.

I hope you have found some insightful tips to help you ace your next interview. I wish you the best!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Yewande Jinadu is the Founder of CareerLife (careerlife.com.ng) and also a Strategic HR Business Partner of a leading tech firm. She's a certified HR Professional with over 5years as a Generalist and a Talent Acquisition Specialist. With CareerLife Foundation, she helps young professionals achieve measurable success in their career. With CareerLife Consulting Services, she partners with businesses to deliver value through its people by providing HR Services (Recruitment, Training etc). She can be reached via [email protected] or @careerlifeng on Twitter and Instagram

3 Comments

  1. Oma

    April 23, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    So many thanks for this! I applied for a job for which I hope to be called upon for an interview.
    This is my dream job!!!
    Lord!

  2. mz_daniels

    April 23, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    NIce one writer. I also though to add, do your best in an interview to control the conversation. speak honestly and authentically about the things you are good at and the conversation will flow to your areas of strengths.

  3. Stanley Eluwa

    May 2, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Great article and quite insightful.

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