January 7, 2014 3 Comments
The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.
It’s also because they haven’t given thought to how to construct a persuasive elevator pitch. Have you? One of the most important tools in your job search toolbox is an elevator pitch. It can be used in a number of ways: as part of your networking repertoire and certainly at an interview.
Here are three tidbits of advice delivering a powerful elevator pitch.
1. Keep it relevant. You must be aware of what the employer wants from her employees, which requires from you not only researching the job but also the company.
Let’s say, as a trainer, you’re aware of the employer’s need for satisfying people of cultural differences. You’ll begin your elevator speech by addressing this need.
You’ll begin your elevator pitch with something on the lines of, Along with my highly rated presentation skills, I’ve had particular success with designing presentations that meet the needs of a diverse population. Then you’ll follow it with an accomplishment, as accomplishments are memorable.
For example, the company for which I last worked employed Khmer- and Spanish-speaking people. I translated our presentations into both languages so that my colleagues could deliver their presentations with ease and effectiveness. This was work I did on my own time, but I realized how important it was to the company. I received accolades from the CEO of the company; and I enjoyed the process very much.
Finally, you’ll close your elevator pitch with some of the strong personality skills for which you’ve been acknowledge. In this case, your innovation, assertiveness, and commitment to the company would be appropriate to mention.
2. Be on your toes. Being prepared is essential to jobseekers who need to say the right thing at the right time to a prospective employer. This is where your research on the company comes into play—the more you know about said company, the better you can recite your elevator pitch.
One way to answer, “Why should we hire you?” is by using your elevator pitch. Throughout the interview, you’ve paid careful attention to what the employer has been saying regarding the challenges the company is facing. They need a manager who can develop excellent rapport with a younger staff, while also enforcing rules that have been broken. Based on your new-found knowledge, you realize you’ll have to answer this question with a variation on your rehearsed pitch. You’ll open instead with:
I am a manager who understands the need to maintain an easy-going, professional approach as well as to discipline my employees when necessary. As this is one of your concerns, I can assure you that I will deliver on my promise, as well as exceed other expectations you have for this position. Then you’ll follow with an example of what you asserted.
If I may give you a specific example of my claim, on many occasions I had to apply the right amount of discipline in various ways. There was one employee who was always late for work and would often return from break or lunch late, as well.
I realized that she required a gentler touch than the others, so I called her to my office and explained the effect she had on the rest of the team when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I then explained to her the consequences her tardiness would have on her. (Slight smile.) I don’t think she had been spoken to in such a straightforward manner by her other managers. I treated her with respect.
From that day forward, she was never late. In fact, she earned a dependability award. There are other examples. Would you like to hear them?
Again, end your elevator pitch with some of the skills that make you special. It isn’t enough to claim you possess them; tell about what your former employers have said about you.
3. The purpose of your elevator speech. When employers listen to your elevator pitch, they should recognize skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the rest of the candidates. Tell your elevator pitch in a concise manner that illustrates these skills; don’t simply provide a list of skills you think are required for the position. Remember that accomplishments are memorable and show your value added, especially if they’re relevant to your audience, e.g., an employer.
Whether you use your elevator pitch to answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself,” or the question, “Why should I hire you?” there are enough reasons to develop one that is relevant and shows you can think on your feet.