Tag Archives: Tell Me about Yourself

Your elevator pitch: why years of experience doesn’t matter as much as what you’ve accomplished

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition to this, by stating your years of experience, you risk being exposed to ageism.

Besides, your most recent 10-15 years of experience is stated on your resume. There’s no need to bring it up in your elevator pitch.

If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch, you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of the elevator pitch will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.

Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.

Start strong

Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?

People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.

Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:

I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.

Back it up with relevant accomplishments

This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.

Telling your life story in your written and oral communications is not what employers want to read and hear.

(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Slight pause)

One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.

(Another slight pause)

I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.

Wrap it up with energy

You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.

I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.

You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.

Don’t swallow the honest pill with these 3 interview questions

Nevervous Interviewee

Malls drive me nuts. If Dante had another ring of hell to add, it would consist of shoppers aimlessly walking around looking for the nearest exit. I feel this way five minutes after being in one that my daughters drag me to.

I’m content waiting for them while they run off to shop. But all the soft seats outside the stores are usually taken by husbands and fathers who constantly check their watch to see how long they’ve been waiting for their wife and kids.

Malls drive me nuts for another reason. We fathers hear things we don’t want to. My girls love stores like Forever 21, Abercrombie and Fitch, The Gap, and Victoria Secret….

Hold on there, I look at my youngest daughter, Did I hear you right, dear? You went to Victoria Secret?  “Yeah,” my eldest daughter says, “she bought a lacy bra.” TMI

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with interviews. Not much, other than to say that some job candidates seem to, as I bring up in my interview workshops, swallow the honest pill and spill way too much information.

And why do candidates do this? Because they’re unprepared for the tough, yet predictable, questions like: Tell me about one of your greatest weaknesses. One answer I hear often from jobseekers is their claim of being a perfectionist.

Thinking this is an admirable trait, I tell them that employers imagine a scenario that plays out something like this:

The candidate has a two-page addendum that has to be completed by the end of the day. After struggling with the right verbiage the whole day, it’s still not completed. This is something that should have taken half an hour to complete. This answer is the perfect interview killer.

Tell me something about yourself. Here’s another one that provokes too much information from the candidate. This is a pretty straightforward directive, but one for which candidates are not prepared.

What’s required for this question is a 30-second commercial that describes your value to the prospective employer. It’s your value proposition that includes relevant accomplishments. Yet many candidates feel the pressure and say too much about silly stuff.

One candidate I interviewed answered this question by telling me she planned to be married in three years and have kids in five. For me, the interview was already over. This was definitely too much information and demonstrated how unprepared she was for the interview.

Tell me about a time when you failed to communicate effectively. Imagine a candidate answering this directive as such: “I guess it was a time when I had an argument with my boss,” the candidate says.

The interview is intrigued. “Tell us about that, John.”

“Well, I didn’t like the way she criticized my quarterly report. She said it was full of spelling errors, inaccuracies, and grammatical mistakes. Plus, she told me it was too short. So I sort of lost it and yelled at her.”

“What was the result of that argument, John?” says the interviewer.

“It wasn’t too good.”

It wasn’t too good? Wrong example and way too much information.

It’s all fine and well for me to poke fun at job candidates, imaginary and real; although, I’ve heard similar responses from some of my customers. So here’s my advice. BE READY FOR THESE QUESTIONS.

For example, my greatest weakness is how I struggle with spelling. I can string a sentence or two together, but I’d be lost without Spell Check. I’ve done much to improve it, including buying a calendar with the day’s word and definition.

Is this weakness true? Yes. Would it kill me to bring it up at an interview? Probably not, unless I were looking for a teaching job. Right or wrong, I’m ready for the weakness question.

Malls really drive me nuts, especially when I’m there with my anxious son and daughters who share too much TMI.. And it sucks when candidates arrive at interviews unprepared, thereby losing their wits and also give TMI.