Tell Me about yourself
The most common question you will get asked is: ‘Tell me about yourself’
It is important to nail this question. You should already know this answer from the top of your head. First impressions matter, and this question is usually asked at the beginning of the interview, so you want to have a good start.The structure to this answer should be:
- Stating a brief intro of who you are
- Give some highlights from your resume
- Say how your skills aligns with the skills needed for the job
- Talk about you want to work at the company in that role.
How to answer a behavioural question
In 7 tips for a successful interview, I said that you should know 90% of behavioural questions that you are going to receive. How do you do that? You should find common behavioural questions (which I’ve bolded below), and then for each behavioural question, write several bullet points for your response. I particularly like the format STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result. So for each answer, I write a bullet point about the context of the response (the situation), and then I write a bullet point about the specific task, and then I write a couple of bullet points about the action I took – this is the most important part of your answer, and finally I write a bullet point describing the result of my actions – quantify the result if possible, make it tangible. After my interviews, I make a list of all the behavioural questions I was asked. I recommend doing this too – you will likely come across the same behavioural questions, and keeping those bizarre behavioural questions is a good reminder. Here are a list of behavioural questions, with the most common ones bolded:
List of behavioural questions
- Tell me about yourself
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why do you want to do investment banking/consulting/software engineering etc. ?
- What do investment bankers do?
- What are your short term goals?
- What are your long term goals?
- What is the best parenting advice you would give?
- What is your story?
- Why this company?
- What is the toughest feedback you’ve received?
- Tell me about a time you worked in a team
- Tell me about a time you had to work with someone difficult
- What makes you stand out?
- How would someone describe you?
- Describe a project you’ve worked on
- What are you passionate about?
- What motivates you?
- Tell me about a challenging time
- Tell me about a time you failed
- Tell me about a time you faced an ethical decision
- What is your biggest accomplishment?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why do you want this award?
- Example of a question and answer
Here is an example of how to answer a behavioural question using the STAR format:
Question: Tell me about a time when you had to be a leader
- Situation: I founded the first and only philosophy club at MIT and was President
- Task: I had to create a team, and attract members to the club
- Action: I started a marketing campaign to find team members for the club, and then interviewed the applicants
- I assigned one of the board members to be ‘Social Chair’ – they helped me create a successful marketing campaign
- Result: We gained over 200 members and became an officially recognized club at MIT, with 5 board members
Strengths and weaknesses
I usually tailor my response for ‘Tell me about your strengths’ for the industry. For example, in consulting, it is important to do well at teamwork so I add that as a strength. In Investment Banking, it is important to pay attention to detail, so I would add that as a strength. The way to stand out in your answer for your strengths is to demonstrate those strengths. You can demonstrate those strengths by giving an example. For example:
In a consulting interview, I would say my strengths are:
- Team Player – started a successful Philosophy club at MIT and worked in a team of 5 board members
- Analytical skills – studying computer science and physics, and have done various projects in both areas
- Multitask – In college, I was President of two clubs, had a blog, was Advertising Manager at the student newspaper, took 5 classes per semester, etc.