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Interviews: Do you use the "Tell me about yourself" ice-breaker?

by on
in The HR Specialist Forum

"The recent Forum post about interview questions got me thinking about the question/statement I usually start interviews with: 'So, tell me about yourself.' It seems like a good icebreaker, but I've heard it can trigger some legal problems (learning too much information). Do others use it, or it too cliche?" -- Michelle, California

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Deneise July 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

I usually use the same ice-breaker but follow up with the words, “professionally only please”.

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Lynn June 24, 2009 at 7:00 pm

I agree with Patty and Jennifer, I ask more ‘work’ history specific questions. Also like to use moreof a situational line of questioning that creates an explain things answers. One of my favorite questions is ‘tell me a time when things didn’t go they way you expected at your last position and how you dealt with that’ I like to see how the applicant thinks on thier feet.

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Linda Ann June 23, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I don’t ask the question. You are only going to hear exactly what they want you to hear. Besides, the applicants that are so quick to tell you just how good they are usually are the worst employees. Good employees are usually willing to let their work stand good for themselves and rarely do they go around bragging about it.

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Patty June 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I agree. I ask this question but phrase it so that it relates to the position. For example, “Tell me about your experience as it relates to the position”.

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Jennifer June 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I do not ask this question. I believe it leaves too many people to respond in a (personal) way that might be considered discriminatory, such as a I’m a mom (dad), single parent, etc. I like to start an interview with why the person has applied for a position and what they know about the organization. I will ask applicants how their professional and/or educational experiences prepared them for the open position during the interview. I believe this is the type of information one should be seeking to the typical “tell me about yourself” question.

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