Interview coaching entails role-playing the most commonly asked interview questions, but let’s be honest; it is speculation at best. In fact, most candidates feel as if they are a contestant on “What’s My Line?”
Although each interview experience is different, it is 99.9% certain that the interviewer will ask a candidate to “Tell me about yourself.”
Also called the “elevator pitch” or “one-minute commercial,” this request stumps even the most experienced candidates. Keep in mind that there is a deeper meaning behind the question. Your answer not only demonstrates how you will represent the company to a client, but it shows whether you can communicate with clarity and brevity.
This is not Shark Tank nor a TED talk, so it is best to deliver your pitch-not your life history-within one, but no longer than two minutes. This three-step, infomercial-busting blueprint is sure to conquer glossophobia and tame the blarney.
Step 1: Tell the interviewer who you are.
Many fall into the trap of saying “I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska …” This is not what the employer wants to know. Instead, write a couple sentences introducing yourself (your title) and describing the theme of your career (your brand).
A second option is to ask the interviewer a question and position yourself as the solution.
Example I: I am a product manager with more than 12 years evolving the consumer electronics industry with history-making solutions.
Example II: Know how people inundate a department with great ideas, yet you can only select one winner? Well, that is what I do. I have a flair for sifting through rocks and dirt clods to find the diamond and take it to market.
Step 2: Summarize your work history.
Write a few sentences summarizing your work history. Whether you begin with your present role or early work history is up to you. However, ending with your present (or most recent) role and best achievement leaves a nice impression.
Example: After wrapping up my early career as an engineer with Dell, I transitioned to a lead marketing role and subsequent product manager position with Intuit. In 2014, I transitioned to Apple as a Product Director where I led the $12M development process for XXX product.
Step 3: Tell them what you want to do–for them!
Describe what you are looking to do in only two to three sentences. Highlight your strengths, but tie your answer to the company’s needs.
Example: Making such a positive contribution to the organization and technical evolution is very important to me, which is why I am intrigued with the Senior Product Director role with Microsoft. Your company empowers product developers, so I would value the challenge of applying my skills and experience to deliver the results you expect.
Now, pull all your answers together and edit to simplify as much as possible. Study your pitch in the mirror or role-play with another who is willing to provide honest feedback.
Don’t forget to add pauses and your own personal style. These are infomercial-busting techniques that may lead to the employer saying, “But wait! There’s more!”