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"Tell me about yourself"

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I've been researching commonly asked grad school interview questions and "tell me about yourself" has popped up often. I'm just wondering if anybody have been asked this, and what path you took to answer to question. You don't have to tell me specifics (unless you want to), I just want to know different approaches people have taken to answer the question, and how you think it went. Or maybe how you WOULD answer the question if asked. What did/would you make a point to say about yourself?

 

I have been asked this before in a job interview, and I chose to take my interviewers on a clumsy, abruptly-ending, yet possibly endearing tour of my life. This time, however, I would like to know what people need to hear about myself.

 

Thank you!!!

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I'd like to know this too.. I was asked this several years ago when interviewing for MA programs and I had no idea where to start. What do they really want to know when they ask this? Starting from birth, college...?

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(For job interviews) you should only give relevant information. So education, brief employment, and relevant interests. I would assume it's the for grad school?

I'd love to hear other opinions!

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I think getting this question during an interview would be great. It gives you a chance to highlight anything about yourself that you think the committee should know when making a decision.

 

So if you are passionate about research or a certain subject area then its a great chance to talk about your passions and goals. Any qualitites you have that can benefit the university can also be mentioned. I would focus less on what they want to hear and more on what you want to share. I think that your best fit school will be looking for the things that you would want to share here so it could be a great chance to filter out schools that you dont match well too.

Edited by bsharpe269

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Sometimes this is the first question you get in an academic interview. If so, I would begin with undergrad education and keep the content mostly academic. I would say where I went to undergrad, what major, what research projects I've done, who I worked with, what methods I am familiar with etc. Usually, they will ask follow up questions to what you say during this phase (in my experience anyways). Once I am done with my academic journey, I'll also talk about other aspects of myself--where I grew up, some things that I enjoy doing etc, but this part doesn't need to be in chronological order. 

 

If you get this question later in the interview (after you already talked about your academic self), then I think you should focus mostly on the personal stuff. 

 

I would say that you should not be giving a biography in response to this question!! :)

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Sometimes this is the first question you get in an academic interview. If so, I would begin with undergrad education and keep the content mostly academic. I would say where I went to undergrad, what major, what research projects I've done, who I worked with, what methods I am familiar with etc. Usually, they will ask follow up questions to what you say during this phase (in my experience anyways). Once I am done with my academic journey, I'll also talk about other aspects of myself--where I grew up, some things that I enjoy doing etc, but this part doesn't need to be in chronological order. 

 

If you get this question later in the interview (after you already talked about your academic self), then I think you should focus mostly on the personal stuff. 

 

I would say that you should not be giving a biography in response to this question!! :)

 

Wonderful advice. Didn't think about how the answer could change in the beginning vs end of an interview, and that makes a lot of sense.

 

After searching the great internet, my impression is that most "acceptable" responses to this question are smarmy and ridiculous (admittedly, I hate tooting my own horn). I like the idea of providing an honest assessment of what you learned in your research and methods you are familiar with in the answer. 

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When in doubt, you can always politely ask: "What would you like to know?" which, if nothing else, buys you a little bit of time to cut short the meandering answers. Fair warning, I've done this when nervous and it usually throws people for a second because they usually don't actually know what they want you to tell them. Go figure. 

Edited by m-ttl

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When in doubt, you can always politely ask: "What would you like to know?" which, if nothing else, buys you a little bit of time to cut short the meandering answers. Fair warning, I've done this when nervous and it usually throws people for a second because they usually don't actually know what they want you to tell them. Go figure. 

 

I think it's because it's an open-ended question, and just like bsharpe269 said, you get to choose what you want to tell them. It's up to you how you want to present and highlight yourself, and I think apart from the actual content of your answer, what you think is important enough to include in your answer also says a lot about yourself. Of course it doesn't hurt to ask question, but I wouldn't be surprised if the interviewer doesn't have anything specific in mind that they would like to know.

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My POI said "Let's begin with you telling me about yourself for five minutes."

 

I told him about my undergrad, why I chose my major, the work I've done in the last five years, and why I want to pursue grad school.

 

He was typing all the things that I was saying. I can hear his keyboards. Haha

 

I think this question just gauges your motivation for applying to grad school. When I interview new college graduates for entry level engineering positions at work, I ask the question simply to know how much the kid wants the job. People who can tell you exactly why they're doing something usually get your attention. You want someone who wants something and can tell you exactly why.  :)

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How would you answer this if you dropped out of undergrad right after high school, then started again 10 years later? My first time around, I changed majors more than once a semester and didn't have anything close to resembling focus.

Should I talk about only my most recent undergrad experience, or try to address my entire academic history? 

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8 hours ago, magnetite said:

How would you answer this if you dropped out of undergrad right after high school, then started again 10 years later? My first time around, I changed majors more than once a semester and didn't have anything close to resembling focus.

Should I talk about only my most recent undergrad experience, or try to address my entire academic history? 

It really is up to you. That can be a good way to eloquently clear up any warning bells they have since that could be a red flag for them. I would still try to spin it into a positive and show them that you have significant focus now.

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10 minutes ago, PsyDGrad90 said:

It really is up to you. That can be a good way to eloquently clear up any warning bells they have since that could be a red flag for them. I would still try to spin it into a positive and show them that you have significant focus now.

I touched on it a bit in my SoP, but I suppose it's not guaranteed that whoever interviewing me would have read it. 

I'll come up with a few short sentences to summarize my early waywardness and how I've learned from that, just in case the question is asked.

Thanks!

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