How to answer “Tell me about yourself” in a case interview

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When answering the question “Tell me about yourself” in a consulting interview for McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, it’s important to provide a brief overview of your professional background and qualifications. This is your opportunity to highlight your most relevant experiences and skills and to show how they make you a good fit for the job. You should also mention any notable achievements or accomplishments, and explain why you are interested in the position and the company. Keep your response concise and focused, and avoid going into too much detail about your personal life.

It is important to note that these types of questions are more common in BCG and Bain interviews compared to McKinsey interviews, as McKinsey follows its Personal Experience Interview standards.

Why are interviewers asking this question?

This introduction question is one of the most frequent fit interview questions you have to expect during your interviews. For interviewers, it’s a simple and flexible approach to start the conversation. It helps them to gather information about you (remember that their main objective is to learn enough about you to assess your suitability for the consulting career), while it helps you to ease into the interview before the more difficult questions around personal fit or the case interview starts. In that sense, it acts as an ice-breaker question.

Still, do not take this question lightly. Your response to this question will determine the interviewer’s initial assessment of you and establish the tone for the entire conversation that follows. Make the most of this opportunity and present your key selling points.

The 5 rules when answering fit questions

“Tell me about yourself” is a common question that is often asked in consulting case and fit interviews. Here are some tips for answering this question in a case interview:

  1. Keep it relevant: While it is important to provide some background information about yourself, try to keep your answer focused on the skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
  2. Use specific examples: Rather than simply listing your skills and experiences, use specific examples to illustrate your strengths and achievements. Storytelling is key!
  3. Focus on your consulting skills: In a case interview, it is especially important to highlight your analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as your ability to work effectively in teams.
  4. Keep it concise: While you want to provide enough information to give a sense of your background and experience, try to keep your answer concise and to the point.
  5. Practice: As with any job interview, it is important to practice your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question beforehand. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable when answering the question in the actual interview.

Overall, the goal when answering the “Tell me about yourself” question in a case interview is to provide a brief, relevant, and concise summary of your skills and experiences that showcases your fit for the consulting role.

Common variations of “Tell me about yourself”

It’s vital to listen for any variations on the “tell me about yourself” question that you could hear because you want to make sure to answer the right question without rambling.

If the interviewer doesn’t ask you to describe yourself right away, they might ask one of the following queries:

  • “Walk me through your resume”
  • “Tell me something that’s not on your resume”
  • “What is unique about you?”
  • “What experience of your resume are you most proud of?”
  • “What experiences made you apply to our firm?”

Tailor your answers to the individual question, either giving a broader overview or highlighting specific ideas. As with every personal fit answer, always keep it structured, top-down, and authentic.

Avoid the most common mistakes

Summarizing my experience as an interviewer, there are 4 key mistakes that people make when asked to introduce themselves:

You are underselling yourself and your achievements. Consulting interviews are not the time for understatement and modesty. Your interviewers want to see all your successes and achievements. Avoid leaving out important details of your story that make you shine in the best possible light. I regularly find that my clients do not like to brag about their experiences, e.g., having received an award because of their efforts and ingenuity, while these things are exactly what interviewers are looking for.

You are providing a detailed summary of your resume. Consulting interviewers want to hear stories, not just a recap of your resume. Introduce yourself based on the 3-4 key experiences of your resume and how they have led you down the path of consulting, highlighting relevant skills needed along the way, all nicely packed into a credible story arc.

You are focusing on the wrong things. Tell me about yourself is asked in a professional context, hence talk about professional experiences and not your hobbies and interests. Some interviewers might be interested in the latter but this would usually not be a top priority at the beginning of the interview and also be phrased differently, e.g., “What are you passionate about outside of work?”

You have no answers prepared. Once asked, you should not deliberate too much or ask too many clarification questions. Rather, present your prepared answer authentically in a structured and top-down manner. If you want, ask the interviewer at the end if you have answered their question or if they want to dig deeper into a particular element of your answer.

Learn more about consulting fit interviews

If you want to learn more about consulting fit interviews, check out our detailed article that covers all elements and fit questions you have to expect as well as our SCORE framework to prepare and answer them.

You can find the article here. Consulting Fit Interview: The Only Post You Need To Read

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