As a university student, I personally made this mistake in a mock interview (thank goodness it wasn't a real one):
When asked to talk about myself, I started to literally tell about my life story--where I was born, where I grew up, etc.
Seems natural to respond with that to such a broad question, especially when my life didn't include a lot of work experience at that time, BUT...still wrong.
Let's be honest: the interviewer does not care about your life story. (S)he is interested in knowing (or confirming) that you have the knowledge and professional experience relevant to the job.
She also has to do this over multiple interviews...while doing her own full-time job. So she's short on time.
#1: When you are asked to talk about yourself, you should lead with the professional, not the personal.
#2: Be quick. Try to highlight only the things that are most relevant to the role you're seeking. This should take 4-5 sentences max.
Ideas for what to include in your response:
- What you're studying (only if it's relevant to this role)
- Past internships or relevant school projects ("I've previously done an internship in this industry)
- Personal qualities specifically mentioned in the job description ("I'm very comfortable working in teams. I just completed a successful team project in my marketing class")
- Professional interests ("Through my work and studies, I've become really interested in the travel industry")
- Academic achievements ("I'm an honors student")
- Unique personal or sport achievements ("I am also national chess champion" or "I speak four languages"...but not "I like to travel and hang out with my friends")
To show personality, you can discuss personal interests and hobbies. But don't lead with them if they are not super unique.
The Bottom Line:
When asked to tell me about yourself, don't tell your life story. Lead with professional topics relevant to the job.