I see this all the time…
A candidate comes unprepared to the interview and faces the inevitable consequences of his lack of preparation or sometimes the wrath of the hiring manager.
The good thing is; you being here, reading my article is a testament to the fact that you are getting prepared.
Kudos to you!
I have an awesome guide for you today. I will share with you a very detailed answer to Tell Me About Yourself interview question that will increase your chances of getting that job by a large margin.
Not only that, you’ll also learn how to impress your interviewer with 1 extraordinary strategy.
I hope you are excited! You are definitely on the right place. After all, over 7,000 career experts who have linked to this article can’t be wrong.
First things first, let me introduce myself. I am Deniz Sasal. I am a manager with PwC Consulting in our strategy consulting business unit. I am also the creator of The Career Mastery and infamous Landing Interviews Guaranteed (1-hour long free masterclass where I teach candidates advanced strategies to pass job interviews.
I launched The Career Mastery blog as a side project in 2016 because I wanted to help unemployed and underemployed find better jobs with large multinational employers and management consultancies.
See, I’ve been joining a lot of interviews as a hiring manager for the past 13 years in my management consulting career. And one thing I noticed very clearly is that today’s job applicants – you – are extremely misled!
There is so much nonsense advice given to you by completely unqualified non-achievers who have the audacity to teach.
And as a result, a lot of job seekers – sometimes with great potential – end up wasting so many valuable opportunities and potentially becoming unemployable.
In a recent survey, 38% of HR professionals from Fortune 500 companies said they see a candidate “unemployable” if they sit without a job for more than a year. As a hiring manager, I couldn’t care less.
But you still have to pass HR interview to interview with me.
So, you better pay attention to this article!
Long story short, if you stick with me until the end of this article, I will share with you the best approach, sample answers, and most importantly 1 incredible tip that will significantly increase your chances.
Let’s start with the infamous Tell Me About Yourself interview question.
First, let me start with some basic tips on what NOT to do when responding to this question.
This will be short and sweet, I promise.
- To start with, the hiring manager has already seen your resume, so there's no need for you to go over your resume bullet by bullet.
- When you are presenting your background, don’t fall victim to under- or over-qualification. Just give them what they need. There is a very thin line between being an over-achiever and being over-qualified. Don't be over-qualified, be an over-achiever.
- No need to share your life story. And please don’t dare start from your high school years. It’s really a waste of everybody’s time. (Side story: I recently interviewed a candidate for a graduate hire role. She literally started her pitch like this: “I graduated from grade school in 1995 from Knight's Bridge school and then continued my education further with XXX High school. High school years were very challenging with the new environment…” By this point, I was already done. It was a horrible first impression. I had to interrupt the candidate and ask her to talk about her current experience.)
- Don’t be boring. Please. You should show some real enthusiasm in your pitch. Oh, and remember to smile. It makes a big difference.
To be honest, the “Tell Me About Yourself” interview question is actually one of the easiest, as far as interview questions go.
If you are well prepared (which you will be soon), you will gain so many points from this question alone.
And since this is usually the first thing interviewers ask, if you nail this section with the approach I will present you, the rest of your interview will go phenomenally well.
Do you know the real reason why interviewers ask you to present yourself?
It’s crucial you understand the motivation of the hiring manager when asking this question.
If you don’t understand the “real reason”, you won’t be able to give the real answer.
Most people think that you are asked this question because;
- Hiring managers want to see your response to a question you might not be prepared for (not sure why they think you’d be unprepared…), and
- They want to know what you consider important in your background.
I can agree to a certain degree with the last one. I’d also want to see what you consider important in your background.
But the real reason hiring managers in multinational organizations ask this question is because we want to see your presentation skills!
Think about it. We’ve already seen your resume, your cover letter, and you’ve probably already passed the HR interview. So, we do know a lot about you already. In fact, if you are applying to a multinational organization, you’ve probably been Google‘d as well.
Why go over your background all over again?
Why go over your background all over again? (See my point?)
So, remember this:
Companies want employees who are:
If they ask you to present the company or its products to gauge your presentation skills, it would be unfair to you as you may have limited knowledge on it. But what better material is there than your own background?
So, with this question, you are being given an opportunity to present something that you know inside out.
The interviewer already knows when you graduated, which company you worked for, when you left them, what tasks you carried out for each of them.
What they are interested in is…
- Can you speak smoothly without stuttering?
- Are you getting nervous when presenting? (even if you are an accountant, you will still present)
- When you speak, whether in person or on the phone, do you impress people?
- How are your communication skills?
- How are your language skills?
These questions need to be addressed by the way you present.
See, this is actually an incredible opportunity for you. It’s an unbelievable opportunity.
Imagine you are entering a college exam and you already know what the professor is going to ask.
Wouldn’t it give you an almost unfair advantage?
It would, right?
This is exactly what it is… Don’t over complicate it in your mind.
You already know they will ask you to present yourself. So, you just need to put in the work.
Then, how to answer tell me about yourself interview question?
I will present you 2 approaches below. Let’s call the first approach Silver and the second approach Gold:
The silver approach is something you need to be able to deliver at a bare minimum. However, it’s the Gold Approach that will give you that incredible boost in your interview, impress the hiring manager, and separate you from 100s of other candidates interviewing for the same role.
For our silver approach, all you have to do is prepare a 2-minute pitch following a 3-step formula;
It’s quite simple. Let me give you a sample answer;
This is how I would answer if I were interviewing today:
“I’ve been working as a manager with PwC Consulting for the past 4 years. During this time, I was incredibly privileged to have undertaken over 100 projects in various industries. Amongst these, 2 projects have definitely conquered my heart. First being with a regional ministry of social affairs. The program we developed for the ministry allowed 3,500,000 people to access social welfare and we strategically engineered the program in a way that yields from the fund grows consistently year over year, allowing better services for the ones in need.
Another project I am most proud of is when we developed and implemented organizational transformation strategies for a Fortune 500 client. This 2-month work resulted in 24,000 employees keeping their jobs.
Prior to PwC, I was with 2 other consulting companies specializing in sustainability and project management. And I started my career with S&P where I worked as an analyst until 2008 recession which is when I was laid off – I guess some would find this ironic…
Now, I’m looking forward to taking my career to the next level with ABC and continuing to add more value to my clients under your umbrella.”
I think the above speech is good. But, not necessarily something that will “wow” the interviewer. That’s why I called it “the silver approach”.
Now, it’s time for The Gold Approach which is how we “wow” the interviewer.
Let’s talk about this #1 strategy that will give you that edge in your candidacy.
I suggest you employ a technique which we use on a daily basis at work.
In my line of profession, management consulting, we always present with supporting tools. For example; a PowerPoint presentation, videos, charts, interviews with experts…the list is long.
So, when I get interviewed by clients, I always have at least a PowerPoint presentation made up of only 3-4 pages (templates below), which allows me to clearly highlight what my relevant experience is, which methodologies I’ve used, and how the results are.
I suggest you do the same.
When you are asked the question “tell me about yourself,” don’t just start talking about your previous experiences, instead take out your printed-out PowerPoint presentation (scroll down for templates) and walk them through the pages.
Also, try to get those pages printed out professionally and bound with a nice quality material for bonus points.
Then, make sure you leave that presentation in the meeting.
Each time they look at that document, they will remember you. These small things add up and give you the edge you need in your application.
If you are an architect, designer, project manager make sure to include the pictures of your previous projects.
Seeing is believing…
So, when they say tell us about yourself, you say…
“Can I instead just show you? I prepared a short presentation for this interview.”
They will definitely say YES and you will quickly realize how their mood instantly changes. It’s that good…
This will work wonders if you are an experienced hire or at least have “some” experience to show (some experience meaning internships, on-the-job trainings, even part-time roles during studies will do).
Trust me, they will be very impressed. You will leave a long lasting impression. This is not coming from some 22 year old HR. This is coming from a consulting manager at World’s largest consulting company. Just take my word for it…
Your slides can take a cue from these examples (you can download the ppt templates down below):
The above is a very useful template to showcase the approach you used to solve a particular problem.
You can use this slide to present your work history, what you have learned and what you have achieved in one neat snapshot.
And this one to present your work history in a more creative way. Each event above can represent your employment record – especially if it’s a long one.
The above slides will only work if you have experience to show. If you don’t have any experience to show, if you are a fresh graduate right out of college (as some call it “fresher”), then I suggest you present your skills. After all, you don’t need years of work experience to have skills in a particular area. You can learn a wide variety of skills at home, school, in your internships.
For example; your design abilities, Photoshop, advanced MS Excel VBAs and Macros, project management tools like Primavera or MS Projects, management accounting, ratios, DCF analysis, the list goes on…
In this case, deliver your answer with the “silver approach” I outlined earlier with my sample answer, tick the box, then carry on to impress the Hiring Manager with the slide below;
This slide is absolutely perfect to show your skills and even weaknesses. I understand what I am asking you to do is making you leave your comfort zone. You are getting nervous even thinking about the possibility of taking out a slide and presenting it to the hiring manager.
I understand. I really do…
But you need to understand that life is all about trade-offs. The added value from demonstrating your presentation skills, preparedness, and determination is greater than the discomfort caused by additional stress.
If you’d like, you can download the editable ppt version of the slides once you register to my masterclass.
And while preparing your 3-slide presentation, remember to…
- Focus on your key achievements.
- Make it relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Demonstrate why you are qualified for this role.
Now, let’s talk about the final step. This is the most obvious one.
You need to practice your speech and delivery until it becomes second nature to you. There should be no stuttering, uhmms, ahhmms, “well”, and other distracting fillers.
Try to achieve a smooth delivery with timely pauses and consistent eye-contact, and show them how charismatic and likeable you can be!
Remember, hiring managers don’t see you as a “human resource”. We see you as our potential “future colleague”.
Very well… I hope you benefited from this article and the templates. But before you go, I have one more awesomeness for you.
See, I really want you to do better in the interviews. I want you to drop whatever you learned in the past from HR or 20 year old kids teaching you how to pass interviews. The Career Mastery blog is great and all but it’s somewhat limited as I can’t cover everything in a blog.
So, to overcome this challenge, I spent a very long time preparing an hour long masterclass for you which now over 5,000 people have registered and transformed their careers.
I am giving it out for FREE for a limited time.
In this training, I teach you step by step how to prepare, pass, and most importantly land interviews with multinational companies.
Trust me when I say I share some real life-changing tips there. I am not your teacher and you are not my student. I am sharing what worked in my career in this masterclass which will also work for you.
Here is what I say about it:
Best of luck,
PwC Consulting Manager
MBA, PMP, PMI-RMP, CMA