How to introduce yourself in a job interview?

“Tell me about yourself”: the million-dollar question! Whilst it might seem straightforward (you know all about yourself, after all), this is often one that stumps job seekers at the first hurdle. The first 2-3 minutes are key in order to make a great first impression and ignite the curiosity and interest of your recruiters.

So, what is the best way to introduce yourself in an interview? With a bit of preparation and practice, you will master the art of presenting. Here are 5 pieces of advice to help you secure your dream role.

1. Be natural

“Note just what it is about your work that critics don't like — then cultivate it. That's the only part of you that's individual and worth keeping.” Jean Cocteau
Underneath its provocative tone, this quote has an important message: let your personality shine through. Don’t learn a speech by heart, but show spontaneity, be confident, honest and comfortable with your recruiter – this is how you will evoke genuine interest in them. By adopting a smoother and personality for an interview, you risk sacrificing your natural charisma.

However, (and if you have read all our advice kits, you’ll know now that this is our favourite word), you must prepare well! Train yourself to memorise key succinct phrases, aimed at communicating key elements of your application. Present your professional experiences and your skills using precise examples which you have thought about in advance. Preparing all these elements is the number one way to put yourself at ease, seem confident and natural, and give a concise and structured “tell me about yourself” answer… or instead to improvise assuredly, as you have a solid foundation to go off!

2. Back up your answers with examples

In order to be persuasive, it’s important to have a few concrete examples in the bank ahead of the interview. Do you claim to like decision-making? Why? When have you demonstrated proof of leadership skills?

Think to back up your answers with relevant examples which will testify to your skills and make sure the recruiter remembers you. Were you a seller in a magazine kiosk over summer? Then you know how to observe customers, categorise them and anticipate their expectations: you have a great awareness for marketing!

3. Structure your thoughts

You absolutely don’t need to tell your life story, but rather summarise your experiences, professional or otherwise, and demonstrate their relevance to the scope of the post advertised.
If you’re wondering what to say to introduce yourself in an interview, you can structure your presentation in three parts:

1st part: Who are you? (First name, last name, age, professional situation, a brief summary of your education and your most recent experiences) Here’s a sample answer: you could say, “if I had to describe myself in three words, I would say…” – take initiative!

2nd part: What motivates you? (Your most significant professional experiences, your professional goals) Why not begin with ‘my goals’?

3rd part: Why does this job and this company interest you specifically? (Why did you respond to this job advertisement rather than another, your keenness for the sector, your particularly relevant qualities). You must have a good grasp on the characteristics, the image and the reputation of the company you are applying for and highlight the elements which justify your interest in them– and then do the same for the post itself.

4. Get the timing right

What trap do many job seekers fall into? Talking too much! Blah blah blah… If you want to know how to introduce yourself in an interview, clearly and succinctly, you must remain direct and concise. To retain your recruiter’s attention throughout the entirety of your speech, time yourself beforehand and try and keep to a maximum of 3-5 minutes.

1st part: 25% (lay the groundwork)
2nd part: 35% (explain your motivations)
3rd part: 40% (explain why the post and company appeals to you specifically)

5. Keep in mind the classic errors to avoid in an interview

It’s also important to avoid blunders. Here are a few examples of what not to do:
  • Mistake no.1: having a ‘closed off’ face: smiling is not a sign of weakness! On the contrary, greeting your recruiter with a smile will trigger a smile in them too, and generate a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Mistake no.2: being ‘just in time’. It is good manners to be punctual, even early: aim to arrive 10-15 minutes in advance in order to get settled, ‘wash your hands’, breathe calmly, and also reduce the risk of being late if you have delays on public transport.
  • Mistake no.3: casual is not chic! Pay attention to your outfit.
  • Mistake no.4: saying “I am so stressed” shows you are unprepared (and also that you haven’t read our careers guides…)
  • Mistake no.5: talk down, or even worse incriminate, your previous employer
  • Mistake no.6: only think about yourself. Listen, watch and be interested.
  • Mistake no.7: let yourself be distracted by your phone. Put it on airplane mode. If you want to take notes, bring a notebook and a pen (which works…)
  • Mistake no.8: not paying attention to your body language. Sit up straight, don’t cross your arms, and gesticulate – this will make you seem open, confident and engage your recruiter.

Last but not least, don’t forget the recruiter primarily just wants to get to know you: they don’t want to meet a retouched version of you! So try and show your real personality and demonstrate honesty, likeability, and good manners. Of course, prepare the structure of your presentation in advance, but don’t learn it by heart. Be confident in yourself and make the most of the experience!

Happy preparation!