How to tell me about yourself > Post > Blog

How to tell me about yourself

Interviews, Career Development / Career Growth.   Friday, Feb 4, 2022

Avisha P


Everyone thinks this question is easy until they are blanking out, in front of a panel of interviewers. I mean it’s just about yourself right, and who knows us better than, well, ourselves!

However, there is a reason that many people call the answer to the question, ‘Tell me about yourself’ – Your Elevator Pitch.

Although the exact history behind the term, ‘Elevator pitch’ is not very clear, a famous version of the story says that Senior Editor, Michael Caruso was always trying to pitch his ideas to the Editor in Chief at the Vanity Fair, but he was never able to because she was always busy and on the move. So, he would try to join her on her short free periods of time, such as an elevator ride. Thus, the term ‘elevator pitch’ was born.

Why is the answer to ‘Tell me about Yourself’, your elevator pitch?

Well, your job interview panel has been sitting in interviews for days trying to hire for the role you are going in for. There may have been 10 people before you and 10 candidates after you. Your interviewer may have a lot of work going on and his mind constantly switches back to these whilst on these interviews. He or she is only human, and might be going through different situations, different moods, and may have different expectations from this interaction.

Did you know most interviewers and hiring managers make their first impression about you within the first 7 seconds of interaction?

That is why your answer to the very first question asked from you, is your elevator pitch. You have just about 10 seconds to truly grasp their attention with whatever you do and say.

Okay so now what? How do I get my winning pitch for the question, “Tell me about yourself”?

Here are some tips for you:

  • Understand why they ask this question

An interviewer isn’t looking for your life story or personal details. This question usually serves as a filler to get things started and get to know you briefly. How you answer this question is also going to determine, what their next question will be as well.

So, there’s your opportunity to leave a good first impression! If you give a good answer, the interviewer will be excited and ask you more questions. If you don’t answer so well, they will lose interest.

Pro tip: If you can see that the interviewer is getting distracted, take it as a sign to wrap up your answer.

  • Customize your response

Share information about experience that is useful or relevant for the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an accounting job , your experience as a call-center agent may not be very relevant .

Understand your audience. For example, if you are being interviewed by the HR manager, for a software engineering position, you might want to tone down on all the technicalities and focus on just giving a general idea,

  • The proof is in the details

Your elevator pitch should be specific and backed with specific information, for example,share details of your area of specialization. Ex. “I’m Senaka, and I’ve always loved selling. I’ve got around 6 + years of sales, in my last company I worked as Assistant Manager – B 2 B business. “

  • Structure your answer

Follow a simple formula for your pitch: “Past – Present - Future”

The past - what is your background and relevant work experience?

The present - what is your current job role? What are your responsibilities and top accomplishments?

The future - what is next? Why are you interested in the position?

Here’s an example of a good pitch structure:

“Sure, so, my name is Rovina. For the past 5 years, I’ve been working as a data analyst at Company X.

I am specialized in data analysis and mathematics, with a degree from University XY. I’ve always noticed that I’ve always been good with numbers and handling data, which is why I chose this field as a school leaver.

For example, when I was working at Company X, I led a data migration project to cut down on costs. The new solution was a much better fit for our business, which eventually led to savings of up to LKR 1.5 million annually.

Moving forward, I hope to shift industries and get exposure and expand my experience across different industries. Particularly software, which is why I’m interested in this role and your company..”

  • Don’t ever memorize!

You might be tempted to do this as a safe option, but if you end up forgetting, or freezing, you are going to end up blurting a lot of very uncomfortable things and mess up pretty badly. Come up with a general idea of what you will share, memorize the structure and wing the rest!

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