“Tell me about yourself” is the most common opening question among all types of interviews, including MBA interviews. It is a friendly and open-ended question; you may find it easy on the first glance. In fact, it is such a difficult one to nail.
Nailing this question will win the interviewer’s heart and help the rest of your interview to go smoothly.
In this article, I will provide you detailed insights over this exciting “Tell me about yourself” MBA interview question, and a detailed guide to crack it.
Now let’s get started!
1. Interviewer’s perspective
The interviewer already has your resume, and at some schools, such as HBS, the interviewer has conducted a detailed review of your entire application package, including your essays, recommendation letters, and more.
Because the interviewer already has this information in front of them, they aren’t looking for you to recap the basic facts. So why are they asking this question?
This is meant to be an easy question — it’s open-ended, and is a totally foreseeable question that you had plenty of time to practice again and again until you got it right.
Your resume shows where you attended college, where you work, and what you do outside of work, but it doesn’t explain why you chose those schools, employers, and activities.
During an MBA, you’ll introduce yourself to hundreds of people — among others, classmates, alumni, employers, and professors. Will you make a good impression during those interactions?
2.1. Resume recap
Many candidates respond by launching into a recitation of their resume from the very beginning. That can turn into a very long monologue that starts with one’s oldest — and probably least relevant and impressive — experience. By the time you get to the good stuff, your interviewer has zoned out and is thinking about lunch.
2.2. Sound unprepared
This question is a core question that every MBA candidate should expect to answer. Sounding as if you are not ready for it may convey to the interviewer that you are either careless or are not taking this interview seriously. And thus, your chance of getting admitted gets shot.
2.3. Too long answer
Answering this question should only take you 2 – 3 minutes. If you give short, clear answers, your interviewer will be happy to dig for extra details by asking follow-up questions.
Never go too long because it may affect the whole interview agenda, and leaving some of your aspects unexplored.
2.4. Go back and forth too often
Going back and forth too often in time tends to drag the answer out. Carefully structure your main points and their order before talking, this will keep your answer clear and make sure that the interviewer could understand it.
The first step is to introspect and make sure you know yourself. The key is to have absolute clarity about yourself. Only when you have this clarity can you represent yourself with clarity.
Our lives are full of events and details and can be quite messy to look at. You should divide your life into 2 big areas: professional and personal. This way, you can scan through your life in a more systematic way and also allows your stories to be diversified enough to be applicable in all situations.
2. Create outstanding stories
Alright, so now you have got all the necessary information. It’s time you got down to creating stories that sell. This is so important as many candidates make this mistake of not presenting themselves in the best way impossible.
Follow the structure of PROBLEM – ACTION – RESULT – LESSONS when creating your stories. Sometimes depending on the question and the story, you can be a little more flexible. But if you don’t have any place to start, use this.
Remember that your answer must be conveyed in a way that, after listening, the interviewer can get an idea of your personality, major/ career objectives, strengths/ valuable qualities.
3. Prepare the draft
A thorough preparation is the key to your interview success.
Now gather your stories, and connect them together to build your interview script for this “Tell me about yourself” MBA interview question. Keep your language simple, and concise; you will only have around 2 – 3 minutes for this question, so make every second counts.
4. Possible follow-up questions
There are a number of follow-up questions that you can expect to the “Tell me about yourself” MBA Interview question and its variants. The interviewer is likely to ask you a question on the last point in your self-description or on any particularly unique aspect that you brought up. Your interviewer may also ask for elaboration upon your current roles and responsibilities.
I am a tech savvy entrepreneur and avid rock climber who aspire to reach higher in everything that I do.
This is why I chose to pursue my undergrad in CS while I was still in high-school. During undergrad I led CS conferences for international Ivy school students as the Conference Club VP. This made me a much more confident communicator.
Prior to graduation I wanted to gain some hands-on experience in a big tech company so I can learn from the best. I worked at Google as a Software engineer where I focused my time on improving the way the Google Maps classifies hiking and climbing routes. I learned how to work in a team efficiently, and how good working relationships add synergy to the output.
After graduating, I launched an augmented reality app providing climbers with optimal routes when directing the camera at a mountain. I built a prototype, established a team, and won a pitch competition, winning us a spot at XYZ accelerator.
Now, I want to take my technical knowledge, entrepreneurial drive, and passion for sports and supplement it with a business knowledge, a sports analytics toolset, and a network. I think that an MBA here is the best path to do so.
I am a professional with more than 6 years of experience in the finance industry, working with small banks as well as large investment firms. As a result, I have a variety of experiences that offer strong cross-field impact and allow me to see unique perspectives: from managers to CEOs, and down to the customer.
After graduation, I joined Ernst & Young working on data integrity around financial statements and got promoted to Team leader after 9 months for excellent performance and work ethics.
You can see that I have always been intrigued by the numbers and I hope to gain more in the field. I’ve started working toward my MBA, which I know will only further enhance my skill set.
To squeeze all the interesting traits of yours into a 2-3-minute pitch is not easy. It has to show enough sneak peek to trigger follow-up questions of the interviewer, but at the same time, has to be concise and provides a comprehensive picture. Keep in mind what the interview wants through asking this question, and draft your own winning script!