“So, tell me about yourself?”. While this seems like an obvious question with an obvious answer, preparing for your self-introduction during your developer interview is your chance to make an excellent first impression. Here’s how to prepare for it.
Why is a self-introduction important?
Recruiters usually manage a lot of resumes at any given time, and the first few minutes of the interview are when they focus on you and your particular background and history.
Interviewers are looking for:
- A brief history of your professional background and experience
- How your background and experience align with the company and role
- A human element, like your favourite hobby
What you focus on in your self-introduction is a chance for you to turn the facts on your resume into an engaging story.
For example, I have an item in my job history where I stayed at a company for less than six months. I make sure to include it in my elevator pitch and explain it: “I was at a company in the travel industry highly impacted by Covid, so I was laid off along with about 100 others in March 2020”.
A self-introduction is an elevator pitch about your professional self that lets the company know you’d be the right fit for the role and organisation. The key is briefly giving them an idea of your knowledge, skills and experience.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
The “elevator pitch” summarises a particular topic that lasts as long as an elevator ride, about 30 seconds or less. Preparing an elevator pitch about yourself and practising it a couple of times makes you look well-prepared for the interview.
How to structure your Elevator Pitch
It’s important to keep your self-introduction between one and two minutes. Be direct and get to the point while also presenting your most exciting ideas, projects or experience to grab the interviewer’s attention.
Introduce yourself in the first 20-30 seconds
Start with your current title and give a bit of background on where you’re from. If you’re an immigrant or have a work permit, this is usually the time to mention it. All this should take 20 to 30 seconds. Here’s what this section could look like:
“My name is Jane Smith. I’m a software engineer, currently based in Berlin but originally from Tokyo”.
Next, focus on your work history
The next part of your elevator pitch should be the top two or three milestones in your career. Say a few lines about each milestone in chronological order. Take care to mention the duration of work and the major technologies used. The time you spend on this part would differ based on the amount of experience you have.
For example, this could look like, “Previously, I worked for three years at X corp with a backend focus where I worked primarily with Java. Presently, I work as a Backend Engineer at Y corp in Berlin using Kotlin and Dart for testing”.
Take care to pick the right milestones to highlight in this part. For example, if you’ve only worked at one place before, highlight how you brought value to your team.
If you’re still an entry-level or junior developer and are struggling to identify career milestones, here are some questions to guide how you should be thinking about highlighting the value you brought to your team:
- Did you champion an initiative that measurably improved code quality?
- Did you start as a back-end engineer and slowly branch out to learn and pick more front-end and mobile tickets?
- Did you introduce a new tool or library to improve the workflow?
This part is super important because it emphasises the value you can add to your new potential employers!
Add a human touch to round it off
It’s always nice to end your pitch on a fun, personal note that helps the interviewer see the human behind it all, especially for competitive slots. Showing your personality gives them a sense that you’ll be a good team player and makes you more memorable.
Drop a line about your hobbies or interests like, "In my free time, I practice to become a barbecue master” or “I’m a big fan of the MCU”.
End off with your future aspirations
This is your chance to give the interviewer an idea of what you’re looking for and show how it aligns with the role or company. For example, “I’m looking for my next Java opportunity in Berlin” would be a great way to show a Berlin-based company hiring Java developers that you’re a great fit.
Practise your delivery
You can have the best pitch in the biz, but it wouldn’t do you well if you can’t remember it. In the heat of the moment, you could fumble words or misremember, undercutting all the effort you put in to build the perfect self-introduction.
The solution is to practice a few times. Of course, you could say it to a mirror, but I recommend trying it with a few close friends and acquaintances to see how it flows. Practising it with people gives you a more realistic sense of how people react, and you can then make micro-adjustments to perfect it!
Example of an elevator pitch
After putting together all the elements of your self-introduction, you should end up with a pithy, focused elevator pitch that showcases your technical skills, work history, personality and the value you’d bring to the company.
Here’s a template of what the full self-introduction would look like:
“My name is Jane Smith. I’m a software engineer currently based in Berlin but originally from Tokyo. I have six years of experience with Java and Kotlin, and I hold a Blue Card to work across the EU. Previously, I worked for three years at X corp with a backend focus where I worked primarily with Java. Presently, I work as a Backend Engineer at Y corp in Berlin with Kotlin and Dart for testing. I’m a big fan of the MCU, and I’m looking for my next Java opportunity in Berlin.”
All the best for your next interview! I hope this helps with your preparations!
If you’re prepping for an interview, you can use our editable template to come up with a smashing self-introduction!
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Keerthana K is a software engineer based in Munich, Germany. She has 4+ years of experience, mainly as a front-end web developer. She’s also an experienced technical speaker who has previously presented at events like JS Conf Asia.
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