“So tell me a little about yourself.”
“Well, I’m from New York and I graduated from-“
And that’s a wrap.
If employers wanted to know where you graduated from, what your GPA was, and where you last worked, they wouldn’t need an interview. They would probably just stalk your social media and LinkedIn accounts or look through your resume. These are ideal facts when you meet someone at a networking event or a cocktail party, but not for an interview. Employers wouldn’t want to conduct interviews if they didn’t think there was more to a candidate than a 8 x 11 piece of stark white paper.
Think of your resume as a profile you’d create on a dating website: Sure, you might exaggerate a little (or a lot), as is natural because you want them to be captivated and intrigued once they see they see your profile, enough to actually reach out to you and set up a meeting. Once you meet, however, you have to show them why you’re the perfect partner or, in this case, candidate for a position.
Keep it relevant. Always tailor your mini spiel about yourself to the kind of conversation you’re having. If you’re on a first date, don’t talk about why your job is terrible or how the hot water in your small yet overpriced New York apartment was not working in the morning. Same goes for an interview.
People unconsciously tend to ramble when they’re nervous or trying to impress someone. You may have a lot to say about yourself, but employers can only listen to so much. If they start checking their phones and typing, chances are that they aren’t taking notes, but either checking the time, their email or playing Candy Crush.
Think of an elevator pitch to sell your credentials to someone. It should be your go-to pitch for when you’re mingling at a party or sitting nervously in an office chair. What can you say about yourself that is interesting and under a minute? Speed talking isn’t an option either.
Start by introducing yourself and your place of residence or hometown. Then, tell them something unique about yourself that’s also relevant to the position to you’re applying to. If you’re applying to a publishing house, talk about your favorite books that are both current and ones that the publishing house may also be printing. I once bonded with an interviewer over our shared passion for “The Hunger Games.”
Maybe your interesting fact is really irrelevant, like you went sky diving in Nepal and you’re applying to a job in the fashion industry. While the two are poles apart, you can always twist the experience to suggest that you’re a risk taker and fashion, to a certain extent, is all about taking risks by creating new trends. Something like that would cause the employer’s ears to perk up because it’s an unusual fact that would keep them thinking later, once they’re done interviewing a dozen or so people.
Oftentimes, it’s not so much your credentials that matter. Telling an employer about yourself is the only way to bring your personality to the surface and show them that you’re more than a 2-D paper. It helps shift the interview into a more conversational and less formal category and if you can get them to ask you more about yourself, that means they’re not only interested in you as a person but as a professional as well.
Do you have any questions or awesome pitching experiences of your own? Share them in the comments!