“Tell me about yourself” is a question you’re almost guaranteed to hear during your job hunt.
It’s a hard question to answer, and one that often causes nervous job interviewees to ramble. Do not succumb to the ramble. Instead, craft and practice a succinct elevator pitch. Being able to communicate who you are, what you’re interested in, and why you’d be good at it — all in 60 seconds or less — is a huge skill. Most people don’t have the guts to do it, let alone, do it well.
Start with the basics.
We want to know your name — what you go by or prefer to be called — what school you go to/graduated from, and what your major is. This should take no more than ten seconds.
Start by thinking of yourself as a category — what kind of person are you? Then, show how your category helps you in a business setting. This framework will help you answer that terrible “So, tell me about yourself?” question.
Example: “I’m an athlete, so I’m dedicated and disciplined. I know that if I can wake up every morning and be at the track by 6 am — even when I don’t want to — I have the mindset to stick with business challenges.”
Close with direction.
Be specific with what you’re doing and why. It’s way better to be intentional with your language. “I am x looking for y” instead of “I’m trying to become y.” Pick a direction and own it. If you believe in what you’re saying, others will as well.
Also, make sure you explain why you’re interested in that field or profession. Give us some color as to what motivates you.
Example: “I’m highly analytical — I’m a pro at crosswords. I love seeing connections and keeping track of multiple threads. I’m interested in project management because, like crosswords, I like both keeping track of the details but also finishing the puzzle.”
OK, so it sounds cheesy. And hopefully, you can come up with something a bit spicier than crosswords, but a good analogy can help you stand out. It tells a story and evades typical business jargon.
Keep your pitch sharp over time.
You’re hired? Congrats! While you may have job security for the foreseeable future, it’s important that — like your resume — you continue to keep your personal pitch fresh to reflect your new goals and your new skills. Revisit your pitch and the story that you tell every three to six months and try new ones out in different circumstances.
Once you get really comfortable, you may even find that you have a few different personal pitches and you can easily switch between them depending on the situation and your audience.
Remember, being personable and authentic trumps a perfected, robotic personal pitch every time.