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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When the panel asks: Who are you?

When the panel asks: Who are you?

Words by Francis Kahihu

One of the surest questions that a job seeker will be asked at any interview is ‘tell us about yourself?’ As common as this question has become, many people still grapple with what is expected of them. This is one question that people are unable to rehearse for since it could be posed in a variety of ways. It is however necessary for every job seeker to be prepared with the appropriate responses should the panel start off the panel discussion with a request for you to explain more about yourself. The following could be some of the issues you may want to focus on when asked this question.

First, indicate your personal details. This could include your name and a brief summary of your resume. Make sure that all the information you provide at this point is helpful to your job search process. Be keen not to over disclose yourself as this may work against you. Don’t be seen to boast about the place you hail from. You could also keep issues related to your religious or party affiliations to yourself just in case they are used to block the minds of the panelists. Do realize that this opportunity is used to break ice at the interview hence the need to be precise.

Secondly, present a brief about your education background. On this brief, focus on the qualifications that relate to the job you are being interviewed for. You must not mention all the courses you have gone through. Be keen to mention all training opportunities that would present you as the best candidate for the job. Always remember that this is an opportunity to market yourself. It helps to influence the panel’s decision on whether to listen to you for longer or to encourage you out of the door with little engagement. You want at this point to whet the panel’s appetite to hear more about you.

Thirdly, seek to dwell on your work experience and how it gels with the requirements of the position. This speaks to the need for proper analysis of the requirements of the job so that you can be clear on what experience bits to withdraw from your catalogue. Be brief and to the point on your experience, ensuring that you emphasize on the components that you realize resonate most to the panel. Mention the actual achievements, not what you had been employed to do. Get actual figures that speak to achievements that can be quantified. In all these, be careful to show attribution. What was your role on the various achievements so that your personal role can be clarified?

Finally, never give false or fabricated information at this point. It is good to realize that panelists are keen on background and reference checks these days hence the need to tell the truth. Falsehood or exaggerated information can easily disqualify you from a very early stage in the recruitment process.


  1. on point No. 2 please clarify for me the statement 'be keen to mention all training opportunities that would present you as the best candidate for the job' good blog

  2. Thanks this I will need to have a list of all the trainings you have attended, but only draw the panel's attention to the ones that are relevant to the job you are being interviewed for. Remember not all your past trainings add value to the position you are being interviewed for...hence, be selective and strategic.

  3. I am wondering about the aspect of marketing yourself. How do you handle this if you are uneasy speaking about your achievements? How do you distinguish proper mention that reflects you in good light from 'boasting'?


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