“Tell me about yourself” is the universal opening for a job-fair screening or a full-blown interview. While the interviewer glances at your resume, you have about thirty seconds to capture and hold his attention. This elevator speech has to convince the interviewer that you are the candidate he needs to invite back. Whether you are a fresh graduate, just out of the military or have been in the workplace, you can create a compelling presentation to make yourself memorable.
Composing Your Pitch
You can tell a lot about yourself in thirty seconds. The key is to make your presentation relevant to the job you seek. The interviewer does not care to hear about your personal life or anything negative about your previous work experience. If you are a new grad, share your school, degree, major and any honors you may have received. If you've been in the labor force for a while, you can skip that. Discuss relevant employment – who you have worked for, your role and accomplishments. Be sure to include military service. The most important part of your pitch is how you can benefit the company. Include an anecdote about your experience; this shows you are not repeating a script you read in a book.
No Significant Experience
Whether you are a graduating senior or a recent grad, your pitch will be about the same. “I'm a senior at XYZ University where I majored in business administration with a minor in French. I'm a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon honor society and a Dean's list student. I have spent the past two summers working for an import-export company processing orders and checking invoices. While doing this, I have spotted billing omissions which would have cost the company several thousand dollars. I believe my attention to detail and language skills would make me a valuable asset to your firm.”
Many employers view military service as evidence of a strong work ethic. “I have just processed out of the Army where I had three tours overseas. I am a communications specialist and have experience with installation, maintenance and trouble-shooting various types of communications devices. I was given two commendations – one for the quality of my work and the other for leadership skills. While in the service, I completed an associate degree in electronics and am eager to apply what I know. I believe my knowledge and field service background will make me productive from my first day on the job.”
In the Workforce
If you have relevant work experience, share it. “I've spent the last six years as a hospital maintenance worker. When you're dealing with sick people, you cannot afford any downtime and I’m the guy that they call to fix things when they crash. Last winter during an ice storm, we lost regular power when the lines went down. I spent thirty-six straight hours nursing the emergency generators until the regular power was restored. I know that my experience and demonstrated leadership ability will serve you well in the manager's position you are seeking to fill. Do you agree?”