It’s the beginning of your interview, and after a little bit of small talk, there’s usually a transition to a serious discussion about your credentials and skills for a position. This transition is almost always, “Tell me a little about yourself.” This question is so vague and, in turn, stressful. There’s a methodology that you should follow when you craft, practice, and execute the perfect Tell-Me-About-Yourself answer. You don’t want to aimlessly list off accomplishments from your resume, that’s what “Bring me through your resume” is for. While you do need to put a little bit of work in to get comfortable telling an interviewer about yourself in two minutes or less, I promise it’ll be worth it.
Let’s establish a few things that should always be included in your response. You should always mention your class year, your major and/or minor(s), and why you’re interested in the industry or role. These are three basic pieces of information to include in your first few sentences, to remind the interviewer of who you are and to remind them of information that they may have seen on your resume. Before your interview, you also want to craft and practice an answer to this question, as it’s asked very often. Although this is very dependant on yourself and your accomplishments, some possible topics for discussion include:
- When and how your interest in the industry or field began
- PRO-TIP: You should always alter your answer a little depending on the company and position, but definitely be prepared to get this question (so you may want a very strong, prepared baseline answer that you can specifically tailor)
- Important current projects that you are working on or have completed in the past
- Passions or interests, including clubs or groups that you are a part of or professionally-appropriate hobbies that you enjoy
- Internship or work experience (although, keep this to a minimum as this is very highlighted on your resume)
- Why you’re interested in this particular role or this company
- What you’re looking to gain out of a future job or internship tied in with future long-term career goals
- How you have been working toward goals and achievements at Bentley that can show or quantify your value
- Discussion of important achievements that you did not mention on your resume or in your cover letter
It’s important that you start off strong, as this could be your first “real” interview question that the interviewer takes note of. Make sure to slightly pause, even if you already know what you are going to say, to simulate yourself thinking about an answer. Then decisively, begin your 1-2 minute answer. It really should not be shorter than a minute, as this should serve as a solid introduction. However, being longer than 2 minutes is only okay if you really are adding valuable information to the introduction and not just trying to draw it out for the sake of time. Remember that this is your first question of many, and you will likely be able to prove yourself much more during the next questions, so do not waste potential answers to other questions all right now. It’s easy to get caught up in nervousness and continue talking, but try to take breaths and transition between thoughts so the interviewer can follow along. Speak at a reasonable speed, and hit several of the points mentioned in the Pre-Interview stage. If you totally blank on your prepared answer, just talk about what you are interested in or currently working on.
Think about whether you liked your answer and whether it really did give the interviewer a quick look at who you are. Don’t consider the outcome of the entire interview, but just that question. Do you think there’s anything you can switch out to leave a more impactful impression or add something interesting that can spark a conversation later in the interview? Since you will likely get this particular question again, it’s important to reflect, alter, and practice your answer. If you practice it enough, you will better remember your answer and begin to be able to tailor it on the spot. Additionally, continuing to improve and practicing your answer can relieve your stress and allow you to put more brain-power into thinking of quality answers for the following interview questions.
Here’s another great and credible article regarding this exact interview question! There’s also a lot of different resources online if you need a little more help. Good luck!