Have you ever been in an interview and the question comes up: “So, tell me a little bit about yourself?” People go into shock and are paralyzed by the thought of describing a life’s work in one clear and concise elevator pitch, unless if they have had a lot of practice.
Honestly, who thought that question was a good way of getting someone to open up about their accomplishments, talents, or true nature? What people in that situation are really asking for is a scripted response that pertains to the conversation on the table, which is a minute fraction of who someone is.
It stems from an ego-based line of questioning that asks: What image are you projecting to the world? How about we flip the origin of the question to a more creative, soul-based inquiry that reflects the individual’s self-awareness on a deeper level, such as:
What are your three greatest talents?
What do you do with the majority of your time?
What has been the greatest learning lesson of your life?
What habits do you have that no one else in the world has?
Inevitably, by answering those questions, tales of a person’s life will intertwine with their true identity, tangents will turn into larger lessons and the substance of their personality will rise to the surface. Similar to the Oxford admissions officers who ask potential graduate students, “Why is a robin red?” instead of “What books have you read?”, creative questioning is more fun and revealing for both parties in the conversation.
I would rather get to know someone’s world view, ability to reason/respond and sense of humor, than a list of their previous jobs and measured statistics on success. A test of someone’s happiness and satisfaction with their life’s pursuits is rarely determined by the same line of questioning that got them there in the first place. At least by recreating the conversation, I know that they are speaking from the heart and not the script they rehearsed beforehand at home.
Even a simple response, “I am” would suffice, as it quietly questions the interviewers ability to see beyond words into the full potential of the person before them.