The reason that this such a common response is because most interviewers do not know how to interview for the job - so they hope that by asking this question they will find someone who will 'answer' it the way they want.
What do they want? They want to know what you can do for them. Jobs are created because tasks need to be accomplished and problems need to be solved. So turn the interview on it's head - when asked such a general question, quickly turn it to how you would do the job if you were hired. If you don't know what job you are being hired for BEFORE you walk into the interview - shame on you, for not doing your homework.
OK let's assume you know the job you are being hired for. When the interviewer asks "Tell me a little about yourself", the answer "Well, I'm a hard worker" will not earn you ANY points. What they want to know is "Can you do the job?"
Let's say for example you were being hired to be a long-haul driver. Instead of 'Well, I'm a hard worker', you might want to say "Well, let me give you a couple of specific examples that will speak volumes about me. I have driven over 1,000,000 miles accident free over the past 10 years, and have never missed a delivery date." Which statement has more impact? The truck driver example might be a hypothetical example, but I hope you get my point. When an interviewer asks 'tell me about yourself' - they could care less that you take vacations in Hawaii, or have 3 kids, or you like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie. They want to know "What do you bring to my company that helps me get the job done?" By bringing the interview around quickly to what and how you can accomplish the task your job requires, you will stand out from your competitors.
Hope this helps.