GUEST COMMENT: What to say when an interviewer says, 'Tell me about yourself...'
To tackle this question effectively, you must describe yourself in terms of the skills and competencies your prospective employer is looking for in candidates, and illustrate how and when you have demonstrated these skills and competencies during previous work experience or education or in your personal life.
You need to consider the core skills and key competencies that all investment bankers need to possess. It will always help to be analytical. If you're a junior analyst, it will help if you know how to build financial models. It helps to be a strong team player. Deal teams consist of analysts, associates, managing directors etc - you need to be able to communicate effectively with people at all levels.
Be specific in your answers and use examples to support your claim. The goal is not to summarize your CV because the interviewer already has a copy of that in front of them. Keep your answer to 1-3 minutes and don't ramble.
Remember that your interviewer wants to find out about your personality (and if you will be a personality "fit" within the company) as much as your skills, and experience.
I suggest you learn to answer this question with a three-part, pre-planned marketing statement that can more or less be reused from interview to interview.
Part one: career history of that three-part marketing statement is always a one or two-sentence summary of the candidate's career history e.g. "I am a Financial Analyst with 2 years of experience gained in financial services industry and MSc in Banking & Finance".
Part two: recent key accomplishment Provide a career summary of your most recent work history. Your career summary is the "meat" of your response, so it must support your job objective and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your most recent experience.
If you can, mention a single accomplishment that you are proud of that will also capture the potential employer's attention. It immediately follows your initial career summary sentence from above. This accomplishment should be one that the employer will be interested in hearing, one that is easily explained or illustrated, and one that clearly highlights a bottom line impact.
Part three: aspirations the final piece of the marketing statement, is probably the most fluid one. It needs to be a one-sentence summary of specifically what you want to do next in your career or why you are interested in working for this particular employer. The reason this third part is difficult is that it needs to specifically address what you want to do next, AND it needs to change from interview to interview to make sure it matches exactly what the INDIVIDUAL employers will be interviewing you for.
When answering this question, qualify your skill-set by using pertinent examples from your educational, life and work experiences. For example to illustrate your analytical skills you could mention a consultation project you were working on during your summer work experience at an investment bank.
To conclude your answer, explain that you think with all your skills and competencies you think you would make a great hire for the firm.
Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach and a senior recruiter, with experience of recruiting for leading organizations in the technology & financial services sectors across Europe.
If you're interested in 1-to-1 interview coaching or if you'd like to download a FREE "How to Win at Job Interviews" E-course, please visit https://interview-coach.co.uk