“Tell me about yourself” is a common question asked in consulting interviews. This question usually is asked right before diving into the case interview portion of the interview.
You should take the time to prepare for this question, as it is an easy way to make a positive and memorable impression on your interviewers.
If you are struggling with the best way to summarize and present your background and achievements to deliver a concise, compelling, and memorable answer, we have you covered.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Why interviewers ask the “Tell me about yourself” question
- How to structure your answer
- What to include in your answer
- Common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid
- Examples of “Tell me about yourself” answers
If you want to learn how to answer 98% of consulting behavioral and fit interview questions in just a few hours, enroll in our consulting behavioral & fit interview course.
Why Interviewers Ask “Tell Me About Yourself”
In consulting interviews, the "Tell Me About Yourself" question serves as an important icebreaker and a strategic starting point for both the interviewer and the interviewee.
While the question might appear to be a simple request for an introduction, it's a carefully designed question that serves multiple purposes:
Communication Skills Assessment: How you answer this question provides the interviewer with an immediate impression of your communication abilities. Consultants need to convey complex ideas concisely and clearly to clients, so your response to this question offers a glimpse into your proficiency in articulating your thoughts.
Contextualizing Your Resume: Your resume provides a snapshot of your experiences, but the "Tell Me About Yourself" question allows you to provide context to those experiences. It's a chance to go beyond the bullet points and convey the story behind your journey, shedding light on how you've grown and developed professionally.
Cultural Fit Assessment: Consulting firms often value a certain set of traits and values that align with their culture. Your response can give insight into whether you possess qualities like analytical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, and a proactive attitude—attributes that consulting firms typically seek.
Discussion Starter: Your response to this question can provide conversation points for the rest of the interview. Interviewers might pick up on specific experiences or skills you mention and delve deeper into them with subsequent questions.
Differentiating Factor: In competitive interviews, where candidates often have similar educational backgrounds and experiences, how you present your unique narrative can set you apart from other applicants.
How to Structure Your "Tell Me About Yourself" Answer
Follow this four step strategy to answer the “tell me about yourself” consulting interview question.
For a step-by-step guide on how to best answer other types of consulting behavioral and fit interview questions, check out our complete guide on consulting behavioral interview questions.
1. Start with a strong opening statement that summarizes your areas of expertise and number of years of experience
Begin your response with a concise yet impactful opening statement that encapsulates your professional identity. This statement should succinctly highlight your areas of expertise and provide a glimpse into your years of experience.
By immediately setting the stage with this introductory sentence, you capture the interviewer's attention and provide them with a clear framework for the insights you're about to share.
Crafting an opening statement that resonates with the consulting role you're pursuing demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively and sets the tone for a well-structured response.
2. Highlight your most relevant and impressive experiences and accomplishments
Once you've established your professional identity, transition seamlessly into showcasing your most pertinent experiences and notable achievements.
Begin with your most recent accomplishments and work your way backward, chronologically.
You could also start at the beginning and work your way forward, but since your most recent accomplishments are likely the most impressive, we’d recommend starting with recent accomplishments and moving backward.
Emphasize achievements that align directly with the skills and qualities sought after in consulting roles, such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, and impactful teamwork.
Utilize quantifiable results and data wherever possible to lend weight to your achievements.
This chronological progression not only provides a logical narrative but also showcases your growth and the value you bring to the consulting table.
3. Connect your experiences to why you’re interested in consulting and why you would be a good fit for the firm
As you navigate through your experiences and accomplishments, it's crucial to weave in a narrative that underscores your interest in consulting and the specific firm you're interviewing with.
Clearly articulate why the consulting industry appeals to you and how your past experiences have prepared you for the challenges it presents.
Delve into what intrigues you about the consulting firm's approach, values, and areas of expertise.
By effectively connecting your journey to the firm's mission, you demonstrate your proactive research and genuine enthusiasm for the organization.
Moreover, explain how your unique experiences align with the firm's needs, underlining why you're an ideal fit for their consulting team.
4. Ask the interviewer if there’s any area they’d like to discuss further
To signal that your answer to the “tell me about yourself” question is over, it can be helpful to ask the interviewer if there is any area they’d like to discuss further.
This helps keep your answer concise, while also giving the opportunity for further discussion of specific details if your interviewer has the appetite.
This also helps demonstrate confidence since you are showing that you are willing to discuss any of the points you mentioned in more detail.
There are many more consulting behavioral and fit interview questions besides "tell me about yourself." For a step-by-step guide on how to best answer all of these questions and more, check out our consulting behavioral & fit interview course.
What to Include in Your "Tell Me About Yourself" Answer
1. Provide a brief overview of your background
Start by introducing yourself with your name and a brief statement about your academic and professional background. Mention your educational achievements and relevant degrees, along with any standout experiences that led you to pursue a career in consulting.
Keep this portion concise and focused on the most pertinent details.
2. Concisely summarize your professional journey
Outline your career trajectory in a succinct manner. Highlight the key roles and industries you've been a part of, focusing on positions that are directly relevant to consulting or have equipped you with skills applicable to the field.
Emphasize the progression in your roles and responsibilities, showcasing your adaptability and growth.
3. Share your accomplishments, not your job responsibilities
Rather than listing routine job duties, spotlight specific accomplishments that demonstrate your value and impact.
Discuss projects you've successfully led, initiatives you've contributed to, or challenges you've overcome.
Quantify your achievements whenever possible to provide tangible evidence of your contributions.
4. Pick only the most impressive, impactful, or unique accomplishments
While you may have numerous accomplishments to choose from, select those that are most closely aligned with the consulting role and highlight your ability to drive change, solve complex problems, or generate innovative solutions.
Choose accomplishments that set you apart and showcase your potential as a consultant.
5. Emphasize transferable skills to consulting
Identify the skills you possess that are directly applicable to the consulting domain.
These might include analytical prowess, critical thinking, communication, teamwork, project management, and client interaction.
Share instances where you've utilized these skills effectively to achieve results and make a positive impact.
6. Discuss company fit
Demonstrate your knowledge of the consulting firm's values, culture, and expertise. Explain how your background and aspirations align with the firm's mission and goals.
By showcasing your understanding of the company's unique attributes, you convey your genuine interest and commitment to being a valuable addition to their team.
7. Briefly mention future aspirations
Conclude your response by briefly discussing your future aspirations in the context of consulting.
Articulate your enthusiasm for the industry and your desire to continue growing, learning, and contributing within a consulting role.
This demonstrates your long-term commitment and ambition.
Common Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not preparing for this question beforehand
One of the most common blunders candidates make when confronted with the "Tell Me About Yourself" question is failing to prepare adequately. It might seem like a simple request, but an unprepared response can quickly spiral into a disjointed or irrelevant monologue.
To avoid this mistake, take the time to draft a well-structured and thoughtful answer that aligns with the specific consulting role you're interviewing for. By preparing in advance, you'll be better equipped to provide a concise yet comprehensive introduction that showcases your suitability for the position.
2. Restating your resume
One pitfall to steer clear of is merely rehashing the content of your resume. Your interviewer is already familiar with your work history; this question provides an opportunity to delve deeper and provide insights beyond what's listed on your resume.
Instead of offering a chronological rundown of your job titles, focus on sharing key experiences, achievements, and skills that directly relate to the consulting role. Use this chance to display your ability to articulate your journey in a more engaging and strategic manner.
3. Giving an answer that is too long or too short
Strike a balance when it comes to the length of your response. Offering an answer that's excessively lengthy can cause your interviewer to lose interest, while a response that's too brief might not adequately convey your value.
Aim for a concise yet comprehensive reply that covers your professional trajectory, highlights your relevant experiences, and demonstrates your enthusiasm for the consulting industry. By practicing your response, you can refine the timing and ensure that you communicate the right amount of information.
4. Being too detailed or too vague
Precision is key when crafting your response. Avoid the trap of being overly detailed about irrelevant aspects of your background.
On the flip side, vagueness can make your response lack impact and memorability.
Tailor your answer to emphasize the experiences and skills that directly align with the consulting role's requirements. Provide enough detail to showcase your expertise without overwhelming your interviewer with unnecessary particulars.
5. Not connecting your experiences to the consulting role
A crucial mistake candidates often make is failing to connect their experiences to the specific consulting role they're interviewing for. Your response should not only highlight your past achievements but also explicitly demonstrate how those achievements make you an ideal fit for the consulting position.
Incorporate keywords and phrases from the job description and emphasize the transferable skills and qualities that consulting firms value, such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, teamwork, and communication.
This strategic alignment reinforces your candidacy and positions you as a candidate who understands the demands of the role.
6. Being unenthusiastic
Enthusiasm is crucial when responding to the "Tell me about yourself" question in a consulting interview. It establishes a positive first impression, signals genuine interest in the role and firm, and demonstrates effective communication and interpersonal skills essential for consultants.
Enthusiasm also reflects problem-solving abilities, team collaboration potential, and cultural alignment, all of which are highly valued in the consulting field.
It sets you apart from other candidates, showcases confidence, and indicates a positive attitude, factors that contribute to a successful and lasting career in consulting.
7. Being too humble
Being overly humble when responding to the "Tell me about yourself" question in consulting interviews can be a mistake.
While humility is a commendable trait, an interview is a platform to showcase your skills, experiences, and unique qualities. Failing to confidently articulate your strengths and achievements might undersell your potential value to the consulting firm.
Consulting requires individuals who can assert their abilities and contributions effectively, and being excessively humble might inadvertently downplay your suitability for the role.
Striking a balance between humility and self-assurance is important, as it allows you to confidently present your capabilities while still showing respect for the interview process and the company's values.
Examples of “Tell Me About Yourself” Answers
Example #1: Undergraduate candidate answer
I am a senior at Duke University, majoring in electrical and computer engineering with a passion for technology.
Last summer, I worked at IBM as a business development intern. I collaborated with over ten sales members to generate over $700K in potential sales leads.
Before that, I worked in a biology research lab that focuses on using machine learning to identify potential tumors from ultrasound images. I worked on a project to improve tumor identification algorithm accuracy by over 50% for select use cases.
I want to continue building out my skills and know that Bain would be the best career option for me to learn a lot, take on increased responsibilities, and make a meaningful impact on the world.
Example #2: MBA candidate answer
I'm an MBA student at Wharton with over five years of experience in the technology and healthcare industries.
My journey began as a financial analyst at Pfizer, where I navigated intricate market trends to drive revenue growth by 15% in just two quarters. From there, I transitioned to a project management role at Cisco, leading cross-functional teams in the successful launch of two innovative software solutions, which reduced client costs by $20M on average.
My most recent accomplishment was spearheading a market expansion initiative at Stryker, where I identified untapped segments and devised a comprehensive strategy that led to a 20% increase in market share within a year.
What truly excites me about consulting, particularly at your firm, is the prospect of leveraging my analytical skills to provide data-backed insights that empower clients to make informed decisions and achieve remarkable growth.
I've been following your firm's impactful work closely, especially your expertise in driving transformation in healthcare and technology sectors, which align perfectly with my background.
With my strategic mindset, proven track record, and dedication to continuous learning, I believe I can seamlessly integrate into your dynamic consulting team and contribute to driving innovative solutions that redefine industry standards.
Example #3: PhD candidate answer
I am a PhD candidate with over six years of experience in research and analysis in computational biology.
My academic journey began with a focus on computational biology, where I designed algorithms to analyze large-scale genomic data, leading to the publication of two research papers in renowned scientific journals. Subsequently, I diversified my experience by collaborating on interdisciplinary projects that applied advanced statistical techniques to solve real-world challenges. One of these projects helped improve pancreatic cancer detection accuracy by over 65%.
My recent achievement was leading a cross-functional team in a groundbreaking collaboration between academia and industry, where we developed an AI-driven predictive model for disease outbreaks. It improves the accuracy of modeling disease growth over time by 30%. This model has since been adopted by two public health agencies.
Consulting appeals to me because it presents an exciting opportunity to apply my analytical skills in a broader context and collaborate with clients to tackle diverse challenges.
The ability to approach intricate problems, similar to those I've encountered in my research, in a collaborative and dynamic environment is immensely appealing.
I believe my ability to distill complex concepts into actionable insights, combined with my passion for continuous learning, makes me a strong fit for your team. I am eager to contribute my analytical rigor and strategic thinking to develop innovative solutions that create lasting impact for your clients.
Example #4: Working professional answer
I am a marketing and strategy professional with over five years of experience in media and e-commerce.
I spent the last two years working at Activision Blizzard, where I led social media marketing. I planned and executed marketing campaigns that led to over $1 million in sales. I also developed a marketing strategy that lowered customer acquisition costs by 15%.
Before that, I spent three years working at LinkedIn in their ads team. I ran customer surveys and focus groups to identify key customer pain points for ad purchasers. From this, I launched over fifty tailored email campaigns that had a 25% higher conversion rate than previous campaigns.
Given my experience in data-driven marketing and strategy, I believe I would be an excellent fit for McKinsey’s Marketing and Sales practice.
For detailed strategies on exactly how to answer every single consulting behavioral and fit interview question, check out our comprehensive consulting behavioral and fit interview course.
Recommended Case Interview Resources
Here are the resources we recommend to learn the most robust, effective case interview strategies in the least time-consuming way:
- Comprehensive Case Interview Course (our #1 recommendation): The only resource you need. Whether you have no business background, rusty math skills, or are short on time, this step-by-step course will transform you into a top 1% caser that lands multiple consulting offers.
- Hacking the Case Interview Book (available on Amazon): Perfect for beginners that are short on time. Transform yourself from a stressed-out case interview newbie to a confident intermediate in under a week. Some readers finish this book in a day and can already tackle tough cases.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook (available on Amazon): Perfect for intermediates struggling with frameworks, case math, or generating business insights. No need to find a case partner – these drills, practice problems, and full-length cases can all be done by yourself.
- Case Interview Coaching: Personalized, one-on-one coaching with former consulting interviewers
- Behavioral & Fit Interview Course: Be prepared for 98% of behavioral and fit questions in just a few hours. We'll teach you exactly how to draft answers that will impress your interviewer
- Resume Review & Editing: Transform your resume into one that will get you multiple interviews