You’ve got a job interview and you’re feeling pretty confident. Your resume looks professional and your cover letter is perfect. You’ve researched the company and memorised all the details – you even learned the name of the CEO’s pet beagle.
You’re prepared but suddenly, sitting there across from the interviewer, your mind goes blank at the first question: “So, tell me about yourself?”
It’s widely understood that having a professional, relevant-to-the-job, well-written resume and cover letter will help you get to the interview stage – but there’s still more to getting a job than what’s written on paper.
Believe it or not – a good elevator pitch could mean the difference between you nailing that interview or fizzling out. Like a verbal cover letter, an elevator pitch is just one more tool to help you land that job.
So what is an elevator pitch?
The term elevator pitch may seem confusing – interviews usually don’t take place in an elevator – and besides, this is Australia and the term ‘lift’ is far more commonly used than elevator. Confusing American terminology aside however, an elevator pitch is a pretty simple concept – a quick summary of yourself that takes approximately the same amount of time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom to the top of a building. It’s a common networking tool but one that can easily be expanded to fit the dreaded “Tell me…” interview question.
Traditionally an elevator pitch should be around 30 seconds long and give your audience a concise summary of who you are, what you do, and what you want. During an interview however, when asked about yourself you should be able to speak about yourself comfortably for at least two to three minutes.
Find your unique selling point
You should also only be including relevant and interesting information about yourself. That hotdog eating contest you won last year may be impressive – but is it really relevant to this job? Start simple by introducing yourself and what you do. From there it’s important to think about your current abilities, passions, and career goals. This involves a fair bit of meditating and looking inwards at yourself – if you’re struggling then it’s a good idea to write down a list of your skills, goals, and accomplishments.
Showcase your career passions and what you have to offer
From there you should be able to refine your list down to a few key focus points that you can use during interviews and networking events that will help you make a good impression and take control of the conversation. And while it may be intimidating, it’s important to end with action – asking for what you want will give them a clear idea of your goals and motives, and show them that you are a bold and confident person.
It’s all in the delivery – so speak with purpose
An elevator pitch writer’s work is never done – it’s important to keep updating and refining your pitch. Ask for others’ opinions and practice, practice, practice. A well-written speech is worthless if you can’t get the presentation right.
Plus, don’t forget to memorise what you want to say – no one’s going to stand there waiting while you dig out palm cards. Try including some of the more ‘professional’ interests your passionate about – it might help you relax – which, will in turn, will make your audience more relaxed and receptive to what you’re saying.
Overall, it’s important to know what you want to say, remain calm, and speak with confidence.
And hey, don’t forget to smile.