You may be wondering why this question is asked during an interview after you submitted a resume and a cover letter. But this is one of the most important interview questions that you cannot avoid. Your response to this question will determine how the rest of the interview session goes and ultimately, you landing that job. One thing you should know is that interviewers would not be asking this question if it was not that important to getting the job. Read on to see how you should approach this question and how you can use it to make an impact in when you appear before the panel.
Why do they ask this question?
Interviewers know that you have some knowledge about the job and you have rehearsed the answers to all possible questions related to the job. That is why they ask an unstructured question to test how you react to unstructured situations. They want to know if you can think on your feet and produce a structured answer to an unstructured question. It is a question meant to throw you out of gear so you get out of the mood of prepared answers, because in most jobs you are required to provide answers to unstructured situations.
What is expected as an answer to this question
Interviewers, by asking this question, want to know what you consider as important. And the best thing is to focus on what the company values. It is not a question about your autobiography. They want to know whether you understand the skills, experiences and qualities required for the job.
How to answer this question
There are two things involved in answering this question: your posture and what you say. First of all if you show that you are confused about the question, either in your demeanour or by asking for clarification, as in asking “What do you want to know?” you’ve lost it right there. This is not a question demanding a 10 minutes monologue about your life. Be brief and concise in your answer. You must not spend more than two minutes on this question. Don’t wait too long before you try to provide an answer.
Before we get to what you say, let us look at what not to say.
1. Don’t repeat your resume as an answer to this question. The interviewers have already read through that.
2. Don’t tell them about your social life. That is of no importance to them. There is no need saying where you come from, whether you are married or single and your hobbies.
What to say
Your answer should focus on your skills, experiences and capabilities in relation to the job you applied for. Say what you are doing now, what you have done before, and what you want to do in the future. Say how you’ve been successful as a result of the qualities you mentioned.
For example, if you are an accountant graduate with an internship experience, you’ll use your experience from the internship to your advantage. You may say something like this: “I am a graduate accountant with advanced knowledge in modern accounting systems. During my internship in Company A, I had the opportunity of learning how particular accounting software works. I was responsible for performing task XYZ.” I am now looking for the opportunity to put the knowledge and skills acquired to use as a permanent member of a team”.
In such an answer you have said enough that may interest the interviewers. You have an experience in using accounting software in a business setup. You have demonstrated that you like working in a team.
What if you don’t have any experience?
You still have enough qualities that will make you stand out from the crowd. You can talk about how your participation in sports is an asset, your membership of a club or an association could be of immense value if used properly. Let’s take for example a fresh graduate in IT without experience. He should be saying something like this:
I am an IT graduate, very versatile and highly focused. As an athlete, I believe in finishing whatever I have started. I am looking to be part of a dynamic team where I can bring all my skills and capabilities to bear, in order to create a success I can be proud of.
What this means is that, although you don’t have any experience, you still have qualities that interest the panel.
To conclude, your interest in answering this question is to make the interviewers see you as a future employee and not a potential employee. You must tell the interviewer that you know what it takes to occupy the position you applied for and you are ready for it.