The vast majority of MBA programs that require an interview will ask applicants to introduce themselves in the interview. That is almost a certainty in live interviews with someone from admissions opposite you (either face to face or via Skype/Zoom/etc).
Even asynchronous interviews - sometimes called video essays, video interview or video questions, where the applicant has to record their answers and for later viewing by admissions - will usually have a question that requires the applicant to introduce themselves.
Therefore, it pays to prepare for this very important question since it will set the scene for the interview. Both for the interviewer who will have a better understanding of who you are after listening to the response and for you! A great response will certainly make you more at ease for the rest of the interview and boost your confidence - improving your chances of getting accepted.
Make sure you practice for this question and a great place for that is Voomer, where you'll get AI-powered feedback on your answers.
What admissions is looking for
What admissions is looking for depends on whether the interview is blind or not blind.
In a blind interview, the interviewer will not have access to your application materials. They might have access to your CV but that's about it. So in the question "please introduce yourself", admissions wants to quickly get a run down of who you are since they are probably learning about you for the first time in that very interview. This question helps them quickly sketch out who you are and sets the stage for follow up questions.
In a non-blind, or traditional interview, the interviewer will have access to your entire application package - so on top of your CV they will be able to read your essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation and any other materials you submitted. In this case, admissions is checking for consistency with the rest of your application package.
Something to keep in mind is that in both cases, admissions asks you that question as part of an ice breaking exercise. "Please introduce yourself" is a pretty standard introductory question that warms you up for the inevitable harder questions.
How to answer "please introduce yourself"
There is no set formula for answering this question - it obviously depends a lot on who you are, what you've done and most importantly, what is important to you.
However, there is a structure that works very well which can be used by anyone answering this question in an MBA interview:
- Have a concise and engaging opening sentence that summarizes who you are. If you've held several wildly different jobs you could open with "I'm a jack of all trades". If your volunteer work is tremendously important to you, a potential opener is "I believe in taking direct, personal action to change the world". A lot of nuance is lost in those sentences but it doesn't matter, you want to deliver a one liner that helps your interviewer quickly understand the broad strokes of who you are. Despite our best efforts, humans are lazy - a well thought out opening sentence helps your interviewer quickly understand who you are.
- Based on the above point, briefly describe your career's narrative arc so far. Do not get bogged down in promotions, titles, specific tasks you had to accomplish and the like - focus on what motivated the major changes in your life. Your interviewer will be on the look out for those anyway, so it makes sense to serve those upfront.
- Close with a forward looking statement. Similar to my first point, keep this as a short one liner that captures what you want to do next - preferably as the logical next step in your career (if you set up a compelling career narrative arc!). You don't have to also answer in detail how the MBA fits into that - your interviewer will almost definitively ask that as a separate question.
Keep in mind the "please introduce yourself" question can take on many different forms.
When I did my first MBA interview, a trap I fell into was hearing the question "walk me through your resume" and taking it literally instead of correctly interpreting it as a "please introduce yourself" question.
The consequence of that was that I walked my interviewer in chronological order through my resume - completely losing her since my resume is pretty convoluted! She did not approve my application into that program. However, after I noticed the trap I fell into, at all subsequent programs I interviewed at, I was very well prepared for the "please introduce yourself" question, nailing them. Ultimately, I got accepted into all other programs I applied to.
Make sure you see the question for what it is and answer in a way that is helpful to the interviewer.
Nailing this question in your MBA interview is absolutely key. It will help your interviewer quickly understand what you are about as well as calming your nerves and setting you up for success with the rest of the interview.
Make sure you do lots of practice runs so you are comfortable answering "please introduce yourself".
Voomer is a great way to get that practice since it was built from the ground up with this scenario in mind.
Questions on Voomer match what you’ll get on the interview of your dream school. After going through a set of questions, you’ll get an artificial intelligence-powered report on your results with specific, actionable steps you can take to improve your performance.
Your response is broken down into multiple components and analyzed individually and then as a whole. From delivery to content to body language and camera position, multiple data points are analyzed to ensure you have the best MBA video interview prep available.