How to prepare to talk about yourself during an interview

Posted by Diana DeClemente

August 09, 2012 @ 10:54 AM

You’ve sent your resume, received a call to set up an interview, and you’re feeling great! Until you realize you hate talking about yourself! Whether it is on the phone or in-person, interviews are nerve-wracking. In the back of your mind, you may be thinking, “If I blow this interview, I am back to square one, so get it together!”elevator pitch resized 600

Many job seekers don’t realize that you can prepare for your interview answers without knowing the interview questions. When people ask me how best to prepare, I tell them to study their resume. What about their career history and transferrable skills are they happy to talk about? Was there a certain project, decision, or tactic that you came up with that made a difference? Whatever that is, practice talking about that with friends or family.  The idea is to get across your passion, your skill, and add value to the next role.

In the beginning of most interviews there is a version of this question asked “Tell me about yourself?” Most people aren’t prepared to answer which is something we can all practice! So let’s talk about how to successfully answer this.

Factors to consider:

When interviewing you have already sent your cover letter and resume which prompted a response from the company.

The company knows where your last job was, what college you may have graduated from, your name, and where you live.

Interviewing is about learning more about a potential candidate so know what is on your resume and expand.

It’s your time to shine:

Who are you? What skills throughout your career have you always been positively noticed for and what are you proud of in your career? None of those answers clearly appear on your resume…so develop a 15-45 second statement about WHO you are because remember they know WHAT you do!

How to develop your pitch:

Key descriptive words include, leader, savvy, established, professional, skillful, specialist, etc…

Think of your pitch as a way to start a conversation. At the end you want someone to feel compelled to ask a question about you.

Fake it until you make it- nervous about talking about yourself? Try to find a way to be confident and you sent the tone for the rest of the interview!

Practice makes perfect! Friends and family are there to help! Also, the mirror! If you are nervous or not sure if you’re talking too fast, too slow, using filler works (“um”, “ya know”, “like”) practice your elevator pitch in front of a mirror. This helps you focus on your words rather than being nervous.

Regional, National, or International Accent? Speak slowly! On a normal basis people may be able to understand you but you don’t want to risk someone misinterpreting what you have said. Slow it down and you can avoid this.

Ready to use:

Don’t just wait until an interview to use your newly polished answers! Attend a networking event, email a recruiter or a former colleague and tell them about yourself!

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Diana DeClemente is a Certified Professional Career Coach, CPCC, for TheLadders. She uses her savvy people skills to help job seekers set realistic goals and achieve them and loves motivating job seekers to find their next role. Outside work, Diana enjoys sitting on the beach and watching International House Hunters (separately, of course)!