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Behavioral Interview Guidebook

Tips for Making a Strong First Impression in your Self Introduction

How to frame your interview self introduction effectively in different interview contexts, for front end / web developers / software engineers. Refer to examples of good self introductions.

The self introduction is one of the things you can always expect to encounter in an interview, regardless of interview format. Hence the return on investment of preparing for it is rather high. Most of the time, your self introduction should be short and sweet, delivering a good impression in the fewest amount of words.

In this article you will find:

  1. Recommended preparation for different interview settings
  2. The 1-min pitch formula
  3. Portfolio or case study showcase
  4. Examples of good self introductions
  5. Tips and stories from hiring managers

In essence, you should always prepare a self introduction that is under 1 min in almost all cases.

Prior to the interview, it is best to understand more about the evaluation criteria for the round from a recruiter or hiring manager — specifically if you will be evaluated on behavioral/fit aspects or purely on technical criteria. In big tech companies, coding rounds may totally exclude behavioral related criteria, hence your self introduction will most likely just serve as a "warm-up" to the main interview.

However, in behavioral interviews or technical interviews in a startup or a company which prioritizes practical experience over LeetCode-style interviews, you may want to extend your self introduction to a quick portfolio showcase, or allude to the fact that you have a portfolio of your projects that they could view after the interview or allocate around 5 min at the end of the interview to run through.

However, do note that in whichever case, if you are doing coding interviews with fixed format in the round, you should keep your self introduction short to ensure that you have more time on the actual coding test. Any extra time you take on your self introduction will be taken away from the time you have to answer technical questions.

Interview FormatCompany TypeDurationContent
Coding or technical interviewsBig tech with fixed evaluation criteria< 1 min1 min pitch
Others which may emphasize less on standard LeetCode-style coding tests~1 min1 min pitch + allude to portfolio showcase
Behavioral or culture fit interviewsAny~1 min1 min pitch + allude to portfolio showcase

To tackle all the possible cases, you should prepare a 1-min pitch and a project portfolio (recommended but optional).

The 1-min Pitch

The Big Picture

Most of the time, pitches will cover these 4 items:

  1. Breadth and depth of job experience
  2. Top achievements
  3. If less than 5 years of working experience, educational background
  4. Motivation for applying for role

When developing your pitch, keep the objective in mind — you want to leave a good first impression as a potential ideal candidate for the role. To do this, you should come off as confident, likable, on top of demonstrating key requirements of the role. Think about what you would look out for if you were to hire a candidate for this role?

Do not attempt to go too deep — focus on covering the main points and enunciating them confidently and smoothly. As software engineers, we prove our mettle through projects and code. Talking too much too early may come off as over-eager and words alone don't hold much value.

In essence, to hiring managers, the self introduction serves to answer these questions about the candidate for them:

  1. Is this candidate passionate about front end / software engineering?
  2. Can they describe things in a clear and concise way?
  3. What kind of person are they? Confident or arrogant?
  4. Would I want to work with this person? Do they seem coachable?

Example pitch points for front end / web developers

On top of role-specific requirements such as team-specific frameworks and technologies, front end hiring managers typically focus on the following 4 criteria:

Understanding of front end fundamentals: HTML, CSS, JavaScript and related areas"I have been building front end applications for a few years now and also contributed to popular open source projects like Lodash and jQuery."

"I was a Teaching Assistant for my college's web development course and mentored students working on projects which involved building full stack web applications."
Breadth and depth of front end technologies the candidate knows"I used React, Tailwind, Next.js, Prisma and MySQL to build a Twitter clone as part of my software engineering team project."
Initiative to keep up with modern front end technologies"I learnt Astro and rebuilt my personal blog using that because Astro is great for building content-driven websites."
Relevant front end projects that the candidate has worked on, complexity of those projects"In my spare time I built a crypto price tracking app in React to learn how to build data visualization-heavy client apps and also solve a personal pain point of tracking my portfolio."

Refer to below for examples of good self introductions.

Portfolio showcase

If you were to extend into a showcase of your portfolio, you would want to ensure that your portfolio is minimal and easy to run through during the interview

The description for each project should encompass:

  • Purpose of project: What it does for users
  • Frameworks/technologies used
  • Technical complexity involved

Refer to this article for a more detailed understanding on how to conduct a portfolio showcase (coming soon).

Examples of Good Self Introductions

For Experienced Engineers

I worked at Airbnb as a Front End Engineer for 6 years and was the lead developer on the project to redesign Airbnb's booking experience. As part of my work, I contributed to Airbnb's main design system by building several UI components like the carousel, ratings widget, and refactoring existing components. I also had experience contributing to Airbnb's open source front end projects like Enzyme and react-dates.

In my spare time, I enjoy learning new front end technologies and catching up with the ever-evolving front end ecosystem. Most recently I've been exploring new JavaScript frameworks like Astro and SolidJS to expose myself to new ways of building user interfaces and improve my skills as a Front End Engineer.

For Fresh Graduates / College Students

I graduated from Northeastern University in 2020 with a degree in Computer Science. My interests are in Front End development and I enjoy building delightful products on the web because of the freedom to develop whatever comes to mind and the fast feedback loop.

I took a web development course while in school which taught me the fundamentals of full stack development. With these skills, I managed to secure software engineering internships at companies like Uber and Palantir. At Uber, I built an internal tool to help developers manage their test rider and driver accounts using React, Redux, and GraphQL.

I'm interested in the Front End Engineer role at Google because I use Google products on a daily basis and am very impressed by their well thought out product experience. It'd be a dream come true to work on such products that impact the lives of billions.

Hear it from the Hiring Managers

Typically I use the self introduction as an easy warm up to kick start the interview. No technical skills required, but it tests communication and ability to describe things in a clear and concise way.

— Engineering Manager, LinkedIn.

Candidates shouldn't ramble on too deeply when introducing themselves as it was never meant to be a deep-dive, just a quick overview.

— Talent Acquisition, Coinbase.

Could be a good idea to finish with what tech stacks or projects you've worked with, and what you hope to work on in the future/where you want to take your career.

— Engineering Manager, Indeed.

Your interviewer is also a person. The foremost thing on an interviewer's mind is whether they want this person to join their team — it's not just about the skills. We want to know who you are, then what you are capable of. Of course, adding personal flavor with relevance to the job is best.

— Senior Engineer, Dropbox.