After agonizing over a resume and then sending it out like releasing doves into the world, you finally receive a call that a hiring manager would like to meet with you. Congratulations! You’ve overcome a major hurdle in the job search process! While some celebration is in order, quickly regather yourself because a new daunting task is still ahead — the job interview. While many choose to immediately focus on how to best answer questions they feel that a hiring manager may ask them, they may find themselves blindsided by six little words: “Tell me a little about yourself.” Not having a solid “elevator pitch” out of the gate in a job interview can create a disastrous first impression and potentially derail the entire experience. In this piece, we’re going to dissect the idea of a job interview elevator pitch using five frequently asked questions.
1. “What is a job interview elevator pitch?”
A job interview elevator pitch is a thorough-yet-concise breakdown of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what makes you a tremendously qualified candidate for a specific position. The reason why this concise autobiography of your career is deemed an “elevator” pitch is due to it’s similarity to a pitch you would make if you only had the time span of one elevator ride with a coveted lead in order to make a first impression worthy of a follow-up. A job interview elevator pitch is usually delivered immediately after a hiring manager begins an interview with the request that you tell them a bit about yourself.
2. “What do hiring managers want to hear when they say, ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself’?”
When a hiring manager gives you the job interview elevator pitch trigger of, “So, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself” right out of the gate, it’s important to remember the context of the situation. If you were on a first date and asked this question, you would discuss concepts you hold dear or about your personal life — if you have children, pets, where you were raised, how you enjoy spending your leisure time, etc. However, this is a job interview with someone who may determine the fate of your career, so the answer they anticipate should be relevant to why you are there. You are in the job interview to express your qualifications as well as interest in the position all while the hiring manager gauges if you’re the best all-around fit for this role. Heidi Winterberg, a Senior Recruiter with OakTree Staffing, regularly coaches applicants before meeting with hiring managers of various companies and has extensive experience with this elevator pitch. “I always recommend telling them where you have been, where you are currently and where you want to go — in a professional manner. I also would recommend keeping it in between 1-2 minutes.” — which leads to our next question.
3. “Why must a job interview elevator pitch be so short?”
One of the self-made traps many job interviewees frequently fall into is not respecting the “elevator” aspect of a job interview elevator pitch. There is a temptation to the ride on the momentum you’ve generated for yourself in answering the question. There are a few reasons why you should resist this urge to ramble rather than keep your answers short.
a. “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Even if you feel that this job description reads almost like your resume, your hiring manager probably has a lot on their plate, would prefer that you get to the point, or may even grow weary of what they may begin to perceive as rambling. As Joe Friday would tell a witness on the classic cop-show, Dragnet, when a witness was rambling — “Just the facts.”
b. Small bites are more easily digestible.
If you put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager, you’ll quickly realize that concise pieces of information are more easy to internalize and follow. In the same way that hiring managers prefer a boiled-down resume with bullet points instead of paragraph stories about every position, most also prefer bullet-pointed answers for better comprehension and note-taking.
c. “Leave them wanting more and you know they’ll call you back.”
This quote by the late R&B singer Bobby Womack is just as true for show business as it is for any business. When you keep your job interview introduction concise and succinct, as well as the rest of your answers, this helps to evoke and maintain the curiosity of the hiring manager throughout the interview — and even beyond.
4. “What is the formula for creating an effective job interview elevator pitch?”
While there is no magic formula for constructing a winning job interview elevator pitch, many career specialists and sales professionals have their own recipe that is familiar to many hiring managers and effective to coveted leads.
According to Rhett Power, the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing US Companies, there are three questions one needs to answer in their elevator sales pitch that we can apply to a job interview elevator pitch.
Question 1: “What business are you really in?“
In your case, this question more closely aligns with the extent and nature of your qualifications. What is your background? From where did you come?
Question 2: “How do you benefit your customers?”
If you were to think of yourself as an independent contractor, your employer is actually your customer. How do you provide value for your employer? Why are you worth your paycheck?
Question 3: “Why are the benefits you provide exceptional or even unique?“
The answer to this question needs to satisfy their question of why you’re the individual for the position rather than the other applicants. What makes you special?
5. “What are some examples of effective job interview elevator pitches?”
According to the above-mention OakTree Staffing career professional, Heidi Winterberg, an effective job interview elevator pitch can look much like the following:
“After college, I started my career as a project planner and did that for about 2 years. I have been in my current position as a project manager for about 5 years and I manage around 25 projects simultaneously, with budgets between $500K-$1million. While I have really enjoyed being a PM, I know I am ready for the next step and would love the opportunity to work as a Program Manager.”
Heidi’s sample job interview elevator pitch coincidentally answers Rhett Power’s questions in a concise and succinct manner. It gives a look at the past, present, and future all while expressing the unique benefit to the hiring manager that this person can deliver if hired.
Whichever industry your expertise lies and wherever you seek a position, answering the request of “Tell me a little about yourself” with a well-constructed job interview elevator pitch can inspire confidence in your abilities. Putting together a well-worded pitch is something anyone can do — even just brainstorming some ideas into a mirror or jotting them down on a notepad is all that may be required. While this pitch does not need to be a word-for-word script, a basic outline and bullet points should be more than enough to help you come across as a fine candidate in any job interview.
For additional assistance with all of your job hunting needs, feel free to reach out to the career professionals at OakTree Staffing & Training in Tulsa, OK. Our staff of career professionals can help you put your best foot forward with resume assistance, job interview preparation, and job placement with some of the most prestigious companies in the country. For help finding your next job today, visit OakTree Staffing’s Job Board.