I had to go through mock interviews a couple days back as part of a mandatory exercise for all graduating students. As part of the last minute information-swap that students do, we were all asking each other a bunch of questions that are generic to interviews. Two questions stood out for me & I couldn’t think of a concrete answer.
1. Define yourself.
Now this is a tricky question. I can ramble on and on about myself to people who couldn’t be less concerned but when it actually counts, I’m at a loss of words. And I think this happened to everyone. I thought about it before the interview and the only things I came up with are the general terms that everyone uses; confident, problem-solver, team-player, people person.
But who am I really? I sat down to think about it and all the things that I came up with were nothing that the interviewers wanted to hear, because they are totally unrelated to my degree program or the IT industry in general.
So, who am I?
- I’m a reader. I can’t live without books. 95% of the time I can’t even step out of the house without a book tucked into my bag, my one defense against loneliness. The book is the one companion that won’t leave me or won’t stand me up.
- I’m a writer. I love the feeling of pen/pencil between my fingers. It is the one kind of innovation that I’m moderately good at. I can put my thoughts into words and then put those words out into the world. And that is more than most people can manage.
- I’m an “imaginer”. I have always had a wild imagination. I might have never gone on an actual hike, but in my mind I’ve travestied across dense African jungles and frozen landscapes.
- I’m a believer. I believe in things – some true, some merely rumor and some wild ramblings of a half-mad mind. It is incredibly easy to fool me into believing something – especially when that ‘something’ revolves around the people I fancy. And I believe in the impossible, the improbable, because my faith tell me that my God is bigger than any impossibility.
- I’m a child-of-the-universe. Aren’t we all? I’m a student of the human condition. I try to understand what drives people to action, and what dulls them down to do nothing. I try to understand how each event carries so much weight that we have a whole phenomenon to define this.
2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Honestly, how do you answer that question? For me, the answer changes every 6 months. People might call my confused, and I’m pretty sure I fit the general description. But I’m not confused, I’m just dynamic. My mind is filled with so many possibilities; I don’t know which one to wholly pursue. And for a person who says they don’t put much stock in what people say, I get deeply upset when someone tells me I can’t achieve something. Half of me wants to prove them wrong but the other half just wants to forget everything and move onto the next ‘big’ thing.
When I was in high school, I wanted to open my own software house. I had the name picked out and a design that would pass for a logo. Then I wanted to start writing my own column for a newspaper. Then I wanted to start my own e-magazine. Lately, I’m thinking I should open my own café/bakery.
But where I really see myself in 5 years is in some exotic location, carrying out the grandest of adventures – A World Tour. I still haven’t worked out where the money for such an endeavor would come from, but I don’t think I should stifle my imagination with such trivialities right now.
These two questions baffled me ever since a fellow asked me before the interviews began. I couldn’t answer them at the time because I kept thinking I should find an answer that would please the people around me, and I wasn’t really thinking about being truly honest with myself. I came up with these answers right now within seconds. And I had to write them down, because I feel the next time someone asks, I should answer properly. It might be the answer they’re looking for, and it might not satisfy them. But at least I’ll know I was honest with myself.