“Tell me about yourself” how to prepare your elevator pitch


“Tell me about yourself” is a common interview question.  Many interviews lead with this question for several reasons; 1. Some hiring managers consider it a good way to get the interview started and conversation going. 2. It tells you (the candidate) that you are now being ‘formally’ assessed and that anything you say (from that point) can and will be used to evaluate your suitability for the role. 3. It is also used to help the candidate calm their nerves – I mean what could be easier than talking about yourself, right?

Well, for many the prospect of answering this question can be overwhelming but it does not need be!  However, it does require you to prepare for the question ahead of your interview if you want to impress the interviewer.  It’s this preparation that often separates the successful from unsuccessful candidates.

What if, instead of thinking of this question as a hurdle to be overcome you start thinking of it as an opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ and by selling your strengths, skills, experience, and mindset you can influence the interviewer into thinking of you as the best candidate for the role!

If you prepare for this question it can stop being something you ‘stumble through’ and instead becomes an opportunity to make a great first impression or more accurately ‘cement’ that great first impression you will have been working hard to create.

So how do you go about preparing?

To start with try creating a generic elevator pitch.  This is a pitch which is not for any particular job but something that sells you – remember elevator pitches can be used not only at interview but also if you attend a jobs fair where you might see a job you hadn’t even considered. So, what makes a great elevator pitch: –

  1. Aim for an elevator pitch to last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Length is not as critical as content but if less than 30 seconds you are potentially underselling yourself and over 2 minutes you risk losing the interviewer’s interest.
  2. It should sell your skills (including transferrable skills), strengths, experiences achievements and positive growth mindset.
  3. You will want your elevator pitch to be structured and concise and make you sound confident and assured without sounding big headed.

A few tips to creating your very own elevator pitch: –

1. Start now, today!

  • Even if you do not have an interview lined up. The more time you give yourself the better your elevator pitch is likely to be – start now!

2. Start with bullet points

  • List out things you are good at doing, your strengths, your achievements, your successes! It doesn’t need to be in any order – just get it down on paper remember ‘there’s nothing more difficult than editing a blank page’!
  • Once you have written your strengths, achievements, successes down, step away and give yourself some time and space to clear your thoughts, this will help when you return to it later.
  • If you get stuck, try asking friends and family to help you identify things they know you can do well or have achieved (for which you should be proud) or skills that you have demonstrated.
  • Once you have cleared your mind, revisit and review your bullet points – did you miss anything or have you found additional things to add?

3. Ordering your bullet points

  • Using the bullet points you have noted now link them together in an order that you feel comfortable with. Remember you are ‘selling yourself’ to the employer – you want them to see you have not only the right skills but importantly the right mindset.
  • Once your points are in order, ask somebody to review it with you. At Konnect we have experience of helping people to create impactful elevator pitches.  Remember the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ well practice certainly makes permanent so make sure whatever you are practicing is right!

4. Practicing will help you feel more confident

  • Your aim should be to sound confident without sounding robotic. Practicing improves the likelihood that when you come to deliver your elevator pitch it will include most, if not all, of the key elements you want to get across.  If you try and make it up on the spot, under the pressure of an interview, you are likely to miss out something important.
  • Once you have practiced your elevator pitch and feel comfortable with it you should video record yourself using your smart phone and review how you come across. Using your smart phone to record your elevator pitch has the following benefits, you;
    • Get a third person perspective on how you ‘come across’
    • Can check the time (length) and pace (do you speak too quickly)
    • Can check if you fidget, constantly shift about in your seat, and maintain eye contact
    • Can check for the overuse of ‘filler’ words i.e. ‘em’, ‘erm’, ‘like’, ‘right, ‘so’, ‘okay’ and ‘you know’ – these can underline how confident and credible you sound!
    • Can refine your delivery so you reinforce your great first impression

Once you have basic elevator pitch, the next step should be to tailor it to specific jobs you are applying for.

  • Key to tailoring is to read the job advert which covers all the essential and important information you will need. Don’t forget the company has listed out what they are looking for in the job advert and listed it under a heading such as ‘person spec’, ‘essential/desirable criteria’, ‘about you’, or some variation of this.
  • You should aim to demonstrate how you meet the requirements listed in the job description. Ideally you will have example of how you have demonstrated these attributes in a pervious role or your personal life. I think of the job advert as a wish list, the more points you hit the more desirable you will be.

If having read all of the above you still want direct 1:1 support feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to discuss further how we can help.