How to Nail Every Self Introduction, Ever.
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
All interviews and fairly all recruitment processes require you to introduce yourself in some way or another. So today I would like to show you a short and specific strategy of how to do that easily.
My personal belief is that if you nail the introduction part, the decision is already has made. This means if you're able to convince within the first 5 to 10 minutes of giving your self-presentation, there isn't a lot that can go wrong afterwards. This is why I always encourage my clients to prepare this part and practice it: In a lot of detail and with a lot of confidence because it is something that you can prepare and that will totally turn out in your favour if you do it well.
As a strategy, I would love to take one of my favourite concepts again, which is that starting with why by the wonderful Simon Sinek. It's so great that he came up with this golden circle some years ago because it can be applied to so many things and your self-introduction of an interview is one of them.
I'll drop the link to the famous video at the end of the post, feel free to check it out on YouTube.
Basically what he explains there is the marketing principle that companies should start with the core of what they stand for, what drives them, what motivates them to do what they do and say why they do it - rather than saying what they do and how they do, first. That is what attracts us to this company and makes us fascinated by it. He uses Apple as an example in his explanation.
So how can you apply the Golden Circle to your interview preparation?
First of all, you do have to know what your personal Why is. If you're not clear on your motivation for a certain job that you're applying for, I would suggest using the simple 5-Why method as a starting point.
Ask yourself: why do I want to be an embedded software developer?
Certainly, you will have some sort of answer. If this answer is still too vague and does not give away your inner driver, dropping software developer, ask yourself why again and again and again. Usually, five times is enough, to get to the core of what really motivates you and drives you to be a software developer.
This personal Why will be different for every single person in the world. And this is also what will set you apart from all the other applicants who will have a similar educational background or a similar experience. They will never have the exact experience plus the same motivation that you have.
I recently did that with a client of mine who was a simulation engineer; with questions like Why the optimizations that he does with every single simulations matter, or what his Why behind optimizing for weight, or for using less material.
What he came up with eventually, was that it will have an impact on our environment, save resources and make a good impact on our climate and our planet because he will make sure that the least material is needed for the parts that he develops and this is what drives him to optimize his simulations to the point where the least resources are used. That is just one example of a strong 'Why' that will drive you to be good in your specific field.
Starting with 'Why' in an interview will immediately connect to your motivation and to your passion for the topic that you're trying to work in or the field to trying to work in. And as I said, that is going to be the beginning of your self-presentation. After that, you begin to tell your personal story.
Go back in time to your first memory of when you remember you wanted to be an engineer, or whichever profession you're planning to have next. Tell them about your childhood experiences of how you always liked cars, how your bedroom was full of posters of cars or what your first time sitting on a motorbike felt like - whatever it is that personally connects you to your field. This is where we'll start.
This will be the thread that connects your story to the job you want to have. Try to think of the first connection within your personal experience that you had to this field. Go on with explaining how it leads to any next steps like moving abroad, how it let you choose the course at university that you chose and how you built your practical experience through internships or part-time work.
I know that this is not always easy and that everybody does not have such a clear thread. I am one of these persons, just so you know. After school, I had no idea what I wanted to study so I went to England and became an au pair for nearly a year. I did an internship in a hotel because I wanted to study tourism management. That was my first intention, but then eventually I decided to study English and Media Management - and while I was studying it, that was when I, first of all, realized that what I really want to do is work in the HR field.
So my personal story if I tell it like that, doesn't sound as if there is any connecting factor at all. It sounds as if I'm a person who had no idea what she wanted to do and then just ended up somehow in recruitment and now is a career coach.
BUT if I start my personal story with my Why, which is that it has always been my passion to help other people with their personal development and that it makes me personally happy to see other people grow and find a job that they love and enjoy. That Why actually helps me to create this thread in my own story.
So my thread would then be - even from when I was still at school, I loved to work with people. Being an au pair was a good example of when I helped two little children. Taking a year to grow and develop, and also during that time, I did a lot of personal development activities like visiting NLP seminars and lots of other things.
Thus, everything I did can be connected to people development. My job as a recruiter is essentially helping people to find the right job for them and hiring them.
For your story, since most of you are engineers or technical experts, of course, there need to be some facts in your stories. To start, you should clearly state why you chose your specific Bachelor's or Master's course. You should mention the most relevant practical experience of your studies. Present your internships, your thesis and when you mention them, summarize the most important tasks that you performed as well as the results you have achieved, and what you learned from them.
If your interviewer, later on, wants to know more about it, they will then be interested enough to ask further questions if they know these three facts about every step in your CV.
If you have some years of work experience already, add the same aspects about the jobs you have had. It's always interesting to include why you chose certain jobs or why you made a specific move. For every position mentioned, add one or two specific projects or tasks that you did and use the CARL technique to explain them. I actually prefer that over the STAR technique, because it adds the aspect of learning in the end.
So present the Context, the Actions you took, the Results and the Learning you had from it. BUT just in a very brief way and again, if your interviewer is interested in more detail, they will certainly ask.
Once you've gone briefly through all the positions of your CV related to your practical experience, I would then go on with some personal interests. Choose one or two highlights about your personal life - that can be that you have a family and children - you're always welcome to mention them - or it can be something about your cultural heritage, background or some exciting hobbies. Choose one or two very specific things about your personal life and tell them, to sum up your experience and your story.
You should always end the story with your current status. This will help them to understand if you are a job searcher right now or if you are still in a position and open to something new. If that is the case, briefly mention why you are currently looking for other opportunities.
The last step is to create the link to the company. After you said what you're currently doing, give a brief outlook of what you would like to do next - which has ideally something to do with the company and the job that you are currently applying for.
Let them know what you are expecting from the future, what you're looking forward to.
I always suggest making this presentation around 5 minutes.
I also always suggest having two versions of this introduction: A longer one for any face to face interview or a longer video interview and a shorter version for the first call by a recruiter. In this initial call, they are usually just checking for a basic fit. This is why a 2-3 minute version is enough.
Once you've prepared your two versions, you can then practice them with your friends, with your Coach, of course - or even with yourself in front of the mirror. Just keep telling the story over and over again, but make sure that it doesn't sound as if you've actually learned it by heart.
When you learn it by heart, it does sound as if you're reading it out and that sounds quite unnatural - so practice, but don't overdo it. Practice it to a point where you can tell it in an easy, fluent and confident way, especially if you're presenting in German.
I hope that with this strategy I was able to give you one good example of how to prepare your introduction. Of course, there are other examples out there, but this is just one I wanted to introduce to you because I personally find it very attractive.
As always, I'm happy to hear and find out how it worked for you, so feel free to give me your feedback on LinkedIn or create a comment here.
So bye for now!
P.S: Here's Start with Why, the ultra viral TEDx talk.