Tell Me About Yourself

February 13, 2023

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Self-introduction is a common question asked in almost every interview. Merely stating your academic background and previous work experiences is not enough to make a lasting impression on the interviewer. In this article, we will guide you on how to effectively answer this crucial question and stand out from the competition.

Understanding the Purpose of Self-Introduction

It's important to understand what the interviewer is trying to achieve by asking the self-introduction question. After all, they have already seen your resume and cover letter, so what's the point in asking you to introduce yourself? The interviewer is trying to understand who you are and what makes you unique.

When reviewing resumes, it's not uncommon to find that among the applicants for a particular position, there's not much difference between them. To screen the right candidate that's suitable for the company, the interviewer needs to evaluate not only your personal characteristics but also your thought processes and work ethic.

Creating a Strong First Impression

With this understanding in mind, it's essential to think about what kind of first impression you want to make when introducing yourself. Your life is multi-faceted, but the interview time is limited, so try to focus on the aspects that are related to the position and make you stand out from the rest. Don't talk about irrelevant information, such as your birth date, number of pets you have, or hobbies. Unless the company you're interviewing for is related to those areas, it's best to avoid discussing them.

For instance, let's say you're a front-end engineer. Your self-introduction strategy could be to showcase what sets you apart from the other front-end engineers. Highlight your expertise, such as your product thinking (if you were a product manager in the past) and in-depth knowledge of user experience. This way, the interviewer will perceive you as an engineer who not only knows how to write code but also has a product-focused mindset and is concerned about user experience.

Making a Connection

An excellent self-introduction should not only highlight your unique characteristics but also create a connection for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions. Think of this as throwing a hook to reel in the interviewer's interest. When the interviewer bites, it's time to take things to the next level.

For example, when interviewing for Amazon, you can mention your passion for customer obsession as one of Amazon's leadership principles (LPs). Explain how writing code is not just a fun hobby but a way to create valuable products that bring unexpected benefits to the users. Mention how getting feedback from customers motivates you to continue developing new features.

If the interviewer is intrigued, they might ask for more examples, giving you an opportunity to showcase your expertise in customer-focused development.

Customizing Your Self-Introduction

To effectively make a connection with the interviewer, it's advisable to have several versions of self-introduction customized for different company cultures. For example, if the company values customer-first, then focus more on that aspect during the self-introduction. Or if the company values speed of product development, then emphasize your ability to move fast and give a short example. This way, you'll be more likely to attract the interviewer's attention in the direction you want.

Linking Your Past to Your Future

To ensure that your past experiences align with your future aspirations, it's important to make a connection between the two. For example, if you have previously worked in fast-paced and dynamic environments, it wouldn't be ideal to express a desire to move to a more stable work environment.

To make your self-introduction even more compelling, you can also relate it to the company you're applying to. For instance, if you're interviewing for a role at Amazon, you could mention how much you value end-users and that's why you particularly want to join Amazon, as the company places a strong emphasis on putting the customer first.

As a behavioral interview trainer, I suggest using the following sample introduction as a reference for your interview. Keep in mind that this example was used in an interview for a big company like Amazon, where both technical and behavioral skills are equally evaluated. The following introduction should serve as a guide, but you should adjust it to suit your own background and experiences.

Sample Self-Introduction

"My name is XXX, and I am a front-end engineer. I have been working full-time in front-end development for the past two and a half years. Prior to that, I worked as a product manager for three years. This experience has taught me to not only think about technical aspects, but also to consider the product from a user's perspective.

I became a software engineer because I discovered a passion for programming. I find programming not only enjoyable, but also fulfilling as it allows me to create products that bring value to people's lives. As a front-end engineer, the most rewarding experience for me is seeing users benefit from the products I've developed. This drives me to continuously improve my skills and develop new features.

In my free time, I like to read up on user experience and user research. During work, I make sure to provide technical evaluations, but also to offer insights from a user's perspective. For example, I recently applied the principles of the Nudge theory of behavioral economics to a project, suggesting that we pre-filter options based on the user's preferences to improve the overall user experience. My collaboration with the product manager resulted in a successful implementation of this idea in the product design.

Based on my passion for building valuable products for end-users, I'm eager to join a company like Amazon, which prioritizes the customer experience. I believe that organizations that focus on solving user problems through technology, like Amazon, align with my own aspirations and values."

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