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How would you describe yourself?

Answer this question as it comes. But don’t give an answer like “My name is XYZ, I attended XYZ college, with a degree in XYZ…” The interviewer isn’t asking for your height and weight, or for the basic details about you and your work history – that’s contained in the resume or CV.

This question gives you the opportunity to say the things that didn’t fit in the resume. One example of a strong answer is describing things about your education that couldn’t be covered on the resume.

“When I was in college I spent weekends working in the library with Professor Soandthus, a premier historic researcher. I learned a lot about research preparation, organizing facts, as well as organizing questions so that there’s not time wasted looking for answers to the wrong questions.”

This is also a good time to mention some examples of your character strengths in action.

Perseverance:
“When I was a boy scout I wanted to become an Eagle Scout, that’s the highest level in scouting, in the worst way. But as I got older I had to work to help pay for books and tuition. I went a lot of sleepless nights studying for various merit badges, and preparing the project necessary to achieve the rank. But the day I became Eagle Scout made it all worth it.”

Honesty:
“I’m no Abraham Lincoln, but one day when I was in the store I noticed the cashier had undercharged me for an item. I love saving money, but that was a mistake. When I pointed it out to her she took even more off the price. I had to see a manager before someone understood they had charged me too little. He appreciated the honesty so much he let the lower price stick.”

General Nice Guy
“I don’t know if every neighborhood has one, but in my neighborhood I’m the handy man. Everyone comes to me when there’s something they can’t fix. The kids in the area think my garage is a bike shop – I’ve fixed more flat tires than I can count.”

It’s a good idea to try to fit the answer to the job or company, after some research. But don’t make up something that sounds too good to be true, like:

“The story of your company’s founder inspired me to get into this business. I patterned my life on his work.”

The only time that would be appropriate is if it were 100% true, and you could show proof, such as a photo of you with the founder when you were a child.

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