The most DREADED Interview Question...
Have you ever worked really hard on writing your resume, got it submitted, waited for weeks (or even longer) to hear any news, finally got the interview, and then did your homework and researched the company, picked out an outfit, printed out your resume, got to the interview just to sit down and have the interviewer say, “So, tell me about yourself”.... And then just fumble your way through the answer?
Well… you’re not alone. That question is a very common way to start an interview and it’s one that many people struggle with. Your answer to that question sets the tone for the rest of the interview, so it’s important to address it with confidence. Crafting an Elevator Pitch can help you tackle those preliminary interview questions. A good Elevator Pitch can also help you network more effectively. It can be used as a starting point for a good cover letter or for a LinkedIn bio. When done correctly, a good Elevator Pitch can be tailored to cover many needs in your job search and beyond.
WHAT is an Elevator Pitch?
So what exactly is an Elevator Pitch and why should you care? An Elevator Pitch is a one-minute (or less) sales pitch which is a concise introduction that articulates expertise, accomplishment, and passion. It is an opportunity to make an impactful first impression. An Elevator Pitch not only provides a value statement (explaining your value), it also ignites a two-sided conversation.
So, what’s the point of an Elevator Pitch? As stated early, it can help get an interview or meeting. It’s also a great intro at networking events. An elevator pitch can serve as a quick intro to an executive, recruiter or prospective employer. It can work as a sales pitch for a product or your introduction at a meeting.
The Elevator Pitch and The Interview
But we were specifically talking about interviews, right? Well, during an interview, an Elevator Pitch answers some basic initial questions such as: “Tell me about yourself” or “What about this role interests you?”. Elevator Pitches can also put you at ease during the interview. The more you practice your Elevator Pitch, the easier it will be for it to roll off the tongue, enabling you to ease into the interview itself and help calm interview jitters.
A good Elevator Pitch also allows you to set the tone of the interview with a succinct, well thought out answer. You won’t be fumbling around for a way to answer a slightly awkward question. It gives you some power and autonomy in the direction the interview will take. It’s also a great way to tell them how you want them to see you. You get to pick the highlights of your career past and talk about where you’re wanting your career path to go.
What are the components and formula for a compelling Elevator Pitch?
A good Elevator Pitch will do the following (ideally in this order)
Identify who you are - confident & compelling statement of who you are professionally
Give your why – why you are qualified
Explain why you are there- a chance to show enthusiasm for the role and company
Include a call to action- the goal is to get the other person to take some action – progress the interview, set a meeting, accept a LinkedIn connection or simply give/take a business card
Engage with a question – use open ended questions to strike a conversation
Once you have it all together practice outloud and time yourself. You don’t want it to be too short, but it should be no longer than 1 minute.
Here are some additional tips…
Use bullets for key speaking points – creates an outline of possible things you want to say and allows you to be flexible and deliver differently in every interview
Have different versions of your Elevator Pitch to tailor to companies, roles and interviewers – bullets make it easy to plug & play for different settings
Practice, practice, and practice some more… it should roll off your tongue without sounding like it is memorized
Let’s Look an Example
Look at the following example and see you if you can identify each of the 5 parts we went over above.
"I am an experienced HR leader who has managed all aspects of the HR function from recruiting to talent development to total rewards. My strength lies in learning & development strategy for employees and clients. Over the last 12 years, I have rolled out a global LMS to 5,000 employees, developed a corporate consultative selling workshop that changed our go-to-market strategy and drove revenue growth from $400M to $1B. While I have enjoyed everyday at my company, I am looking for the next challenge and I believe my 20 years in the industry could help another company experience the same level of employee satisfaction and growth. I would like to build a Talent Development strategy for a small to mid-size company. Let me ask you, how are your clients driving employee experience today?"
Some Final Tips for Success...
How you say it is as important as what you say… voice inflection, volume, tone all matter
Don’t talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch
Be aware of your body language – conveys as much as your words – smile
The mirror is your friend – spend time with it – facial expressions matter!
Tailor to different audiences – sales, HR, operations, technology, C-level
Be yourself – your best self, be authentic
Lead with your strengths
An Elevator Pitch is a powerful representation of who you are, and what value you and only you provide. So, take some time to create a variety of bullet points for your Elevator Pitch to prepare you for any role and any interview! Be authentic, practice and make the best first impression! You got this!