Tell me about yourself

Here’s one suggestion on how to answer one of the most common job interview questions, “Tell me about yourself.”

As one commenter rightly points out, however, the job candidate doesn’t come across as very interesting or likable. You need to have a bit of personality to have a chance at building a rapport with the interviewer.

Here, the advice is to tell the interviewer what’s in it for them, which should sound familiar to my students:

Here’s some more advice. The correct version starting at around 2:00 has the same issue, it’s focused on the job but it’s not real interesting or personal. She does at least say she’s excited about getting back to an educational setting so we learn something about her. She could be more personable though.

They suggest: relevant to the job, 1-2 rehearsed minutes, job objective, experience and skills.

I suggest, practiced but not memorized or rehearsed. Relevant to the job and personalized.

Note that tell me about yourself comes in many flavors, even why are you applying for this job is pretty similar. If you get several questions that mean “tell me about yourself,” you need to be careful not to get repetitive.

Rachel’s interview scenes with Mr. Zelner from Ralph Lauren

Here’s the link to Rachel’s interviews with the Ralph Lauren guy:

Most of it is just silly, but toward the end she does lay out a few messages (courage and integrity). She doesn’t do a good job in discussing how the messages will help her on the job and she makes another mistake by saying, “I really want this job and I think I’d be pretty good at it.” You have to show why you’d be good at it by telling stories about your experiences; I think I’d be good at it is way too weak.

Which ranking system is more helpful?

Washington Monthly takes a critical look at The U.S. News & World Report college rankings:

The U.S. News & World Report “relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige for its rankings,” Washington Monthly editor Paul Glastris wrote. The U.S. News’ rankings take into account freshmen retention rate, admissions’ selectivity, high school counselors’ opinions of the school, faculty salary, per-pupil spending and the rate of alumni giving, among other things.

They’ve come up with a system designed to measure how good the college is for the country:

the Monthly ranks schools using three main categories: how many low-income students the college enrolls, how much community and national service a given college’s students engage in, and the volume of groundbreaking research the university produces (in part measured by how many undergraduates go on to get PhDs).

For comparison with South Korea, where rankings are done by the Joongang Ilbo with parenthetical information from here:

The JoongAng Ilbo’s evaluation team analyzed documents provided by the ministry of education and universities from across the country. The overall university evaluation is based on four categories: educational conditions and financial resources (technology and number of buildings); globalization (foreign faculty, foreign students, classes taught in English); research and faculty (research papers in academic journals); and reputation and alumni representation in society.

Some Korean American intercultural roleplays

Based on giving and receiving compliments:

I laugh in your face

I say no

Yes I am brilliant

Mississippi judge throws man with fun hair out of court

This might lead to an interesting discussion on what kind of clothes, hairstyles, and behavior should be allowed in court.

What is the value of a US college education?

As people complain that college education in American is too expensive, this New York Times article argues that it’s still worth it.

The Hamilton Project, a research group in Washington, has just finished a comparison of college with other investments. It found that college tuition in recent decades has delivered an inflation-adjusted annual return of more than 15 percent. For stocks, the historical return is 7 percent. For real estate, it’s less than 1 percent.

America has the most expensive college education followed by Korea, a very distant second. In Korea, students are protesting pretty loudly about the increasing costs…

In America, certain degrees are worth more than others. Colleges argue that a liberal arts education is a good investment but pretty much everyone in the real world would agree that as an investment you’re better off with any of the following:

-Business (Accounting/Finance)




-Health Sciences

Some people argue that going to college is a waste of time and money until you know what you want to do. If you decide on a certain career (and 18 is often too young to decide) then you see if a college degree is required and you go get the right education.

What do you think about the value of a college education and its value as an investment?

Here’s a language sample from a native speaker you may want to study:

I was a History Major. If I had some guidance 20 years ago, I would have taken a different route and probably had a much different, more accelerated career path. Unless you are teaching or looking at a career in academia, what purpose do liberal arts degrees serve? I ended up going back to school 2 times, once for a certificate program in computer programming back before the Y2K boom and then for an MBA. Each was necessary, I felt, because my BA in History wasn’t going to take me very far.

Teacher fired for assaulting a student or for self defense?

We know school rules disallow students from defending themselves against other students. What about teachers? Should they be allowed to defend themselves?

The student who defends himself or herself probably faces a few days off from school as in the Australian bully case. A teacher who was recently cornered by a student, physically and verbally threatened, and threw a nice punch for a 64-year-old art teacher might lose her job. Does she deserve to get fired? Does it matter she was teacher of the year last year? That she has been teaching for 23 years with no trouble?

Did the kid who got punched deserve to get expelled (he didn’t get expelled so far as I know but many people think he should be)? Not only did he physically threaten the teacher, but he also called her an “f*cking c*nt” plus other choice terms.

And what about the student who says, “Oh my God, he didn’t do anything; you can’t punch him in the face.” Some people think her attitude is one of the problems in American schools today – kids can do whatever they want, threaten teachers, etc. And teachers should do nothing about it.

What do you think?

Discussion topic – cops arresting man in wheelchair

Big news in America right now. Let me give you a few language samples from native speakers:

Maybe he did lunge for the weapon – he suddenly thrust out his hand which could’ve been a punch, or a grab for a weapon.

Saw nothing wrong with the police officers actions IF the guy did throw a punch, shove, or grab. Hard to tell what the guy did. Police were not overly violent in the takedown.

Since the cameraman obviously had an axe to grind, I find it extremely suspicious that the footage starts a split second prior to the takedown. the action is already in frame and steady when the footage starts, so it leads me to believe there was additional footage. Bet it shows the guy being belligerent.

This is ridiculous.

For those who didn’t bother watching the footage, what you have is two fairly physically imposing cops, with one restraining the left arm and the other the right arm, of a paralyzed man in an electric wheel chair. There is a very slight struggle on the part of the “suspect” — about as much as any reasonable person would struggle if some random person grabbed your arm. The cops proceeded to lift the paralyzed man up out of the chair and faceplant him onto the concrete sidewalk. At that point, the cops handcuffed him. Some blood proceeded from the suspect’s head. There was no struggle on the part of the suspect outside of the initial reaction to the grabbing by the cops.

Cops have a duty to use REASONABLE force when effectuating an arrest. Can anyone say the force used was reasonable under the circumstances, without making absurd references to some miniscule possibility that the suspect had a knife/gun/WMD tucked away in his wheelchair somewhere?

Cops get way too much leeway by some people in our society.

Does this coach deserve to get fired?

He warned his high school athletes not to run with shirts off but I guess the message didn’t get through. Article here. This might also lead to a discussion of high school sports and double standards: “Westwood High track coach Tom Davis was fired last week because one of his runners decided to whip off a shirt during training on a 75-degree day. This wasn’t a girl, by the way. It was a boy.”

Presentaion on interview skills

Interesting presentation on interviewing strategies from Microsoft. Here’s the link. If that doesn’t work try this one and then click “view the video”.

It’s pretty long. You might be bale to skip the phone interview stuff (the face to face stuff starts at 7:30). You might also skip to 9:40 where they start the 6 types on interviews.

One little bit of jargon they use are “pain points” – a company’s pain points are its concerns both in the current business environment and in the future. In other words, what problems do they need you to help solve?

Also around 23 minutes in they give some IT kind of examples that will be lost on many students and teachers (including me).

I like the first example of the stumper question: Why are manhole covers round? Also “How are M&Ms made?” and “If Microsoft gave you $5 million to start a business, what would you do?”

At 31 minutes they talk about whiteboarding – which is probably outside the scope of most ESL classes because it’s for showing off your code. That’s where I stop the video.