Ace the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question
tl;dr - Use the “Present, Past, and Future” answer structure
Interviewers want to know:
Who you are right now
How you got to be there
What value you can bring to the role
Hence…present, past, and future.
Watch it in action
How to structure the “Present” part of your answer
This is basically a snapshot of yourself in your current professional capacity. It should be no more than 1 minute and include the following:
What you do in your current role
The success metrics you are measured against
A recent achievement you are particularly proud of
If you are a working professional, an example might look something like:
I’m currently a management consultant with EY focusing on Finance Shared Service Center projects. My primary contributions to the team are (1) Organizing training workshops for our clients adopting the new SAP system and (2) Putting together pitch decks through market research for business development opportunities.
A recent win I’d like to share is when I used data from a free trial of eMarketer to put together a deck on B2B marketing trends in China, which ended up helping my senior manager close a deal worth US$ 500,000.
If you are a student, you can start off by saying what field of study you’re in then dive immediately into a recent class project, internship, or leadership experience.
How to structure the “Past” part of your answer
Here is where you get to really show off and highlight key strengths or takeaways you want the interviewer to remember. Try to keep them concise, relevant, and under 1 minute. You want to:
Identify 2-3 attributes you feel the role is looking for
Reflect upon your experiences, projects, and internships to figure out which ones best suit the attributes they’re looking for
Select 1 key moment within each experience to serve as the highlight of that experience
If you’re a student interviewing for a marketing position, your response might look something like:
As the Events Coordinator for our business fraternity, I’m responsible for planning, executing, and tracking our weekly workshops.
Since this requires a lot of promotional marketing materials in the form of physical flyers and email newsletters, I took the initiative to try out free online tools such as Canva and Mailchimp to better engage our members.
After other student bodies noticed our new marketing materials, they actually came asking for help and so I conducted a small training for 30 other event co-ordinators as a result. The training achieved a 98% satisfaction score.
And if you’re applying for a position you don’t have much experience in?
Let’s say the same event coordinator is applying for an accounting position instead. She should focus on how she managed the budget for the entire year and how she kept track of the fraternity’s expenses.
Pro Tip: The same experience can be applicable for different attributes you want to highlight.
How to structure the “Future” part of your answer
This is a quick 30-second wrap up where you reinforce the reasons why you’re such a good fit for the role.
Following the previous example of the event coordinator applying for the accounting role. Her response might look something like this:
As someone who has been managing our fraternity’s finances for the past year, I’m glad to have been able to apply the concepts I’ve learned in my Accounting classes to real-life situations.
This has further reinforced my interest in pursuing accounting as a full time career. My experiences, combined with my international background, make me a strong asset to the Financial Accounting Services team at Ernst & Young.
🌟 The Highlight Method
This is where you take a small part of a larger story you have already prepared for, and add only that part to your “tell me about yourself” answer as a highlight. The purpose is to:
Keep your answer concise, while mentioning something impressive
Prompt the interviewer to ask follow up questions that lead to your larger story
You can easily sprinkle in “highlights” within your “Present, Past, Future” answer structure. For example:
The US$500,000 deal you helped close is the highlight, and you should have the rest of the story prepared using the STAR format.
Jeff - Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Sure. I’m currently a Product Marketer covering the Greater China region here at Google. I mainly work on App campaigns, a Google product aimed at App developers. Specifically, I have two objectives:
To reach as many new-to-Google app developers as possible and
Increase product adoption among our existing app advertisers
My team and I achieve these goals through a mix of online marketing campaigns, offline events, and content marketing.
For example, one of the tentpole events I helped launch is called Start on Android China, where we leverage resources from our Play, Ads, and AdMob teams to deliver a comprehensive training bootcamp
The goal is to help address app developer pain points at each stage of their app export journey
A notable achievement was when we decided to pivot from a 3-day offline event format to a 3-week online one, and that resulted in a 5X increase in eligible sign ups
Before marketing, I was a Key Account Manager in the sales team, covering around 30 B2C Chinese Exporters.
Since that’s quite a few clients for 1 person to cover, I created YouTube videos on best practices to better engage my clients at scale (it’s still on YouTube).
This, in addition to the support from XFN team members, helped me achieve revenue attainment without missing targets for 2 years straight
Before joining Google, I was a management consultant with EY for 2 years. One year based out of NYC, and one year out of Shanghai.
I worked on a variety of projects ranging from supply chain management to Shared service centers
Due to the nature of these projects, I would often find myself as the only consultant physically onsite and so was really able to develop my communication and relationship management skills.
Having spent the past 6 years in predominantly client-facing roles, I believe the strong communication skills I have developed, combined with my international background, would make me a strong asset to your global business development team.
And there you have it! You should be all set to ace this question on your next interview!
Ready to tackle more interview questions?
Make sure to check out this article on tips to answer hybrid work job interview questions. Hybrid work arrangements are becoming the “new normal”, better strap up.