Five elevator pitch tips for interviews

By Tom Evans

‘Tell me about yourself?’ This phrase has thrown even the most confident of candidates, yet it is one of the staple job interview questions.

Being prepared, especially knowing how you would respond to common interview questions, is a surefire way to help you through any meeting with a potential employer, so developing your ‘elevator pitch’ is a must.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is simply a quick soundbite about yourself (or your company) that can be reeled off at a moment’s notice. It is designed to be short and concise, getting across some compelling details that will grab the attention of whoever you’re speaking to.

As you can guess from the name, an elevator pitch is meant to be quick to deliver, around 20 to 30 seconds at most. Therefore, as you may not have a lot of time to intrigue, it has to be prepared. Even a few moments of hesitation can lose the interest of the listener, whether it is an old colleague, a potential client or a possible employer. Elevator pitches are also great for explaining your job to friends and family too!

With this in mind, here are five elevator pitch tips for interviews:

1. Stick to the point

When it comes to your elevator pitch, what is it that you’re actually trying to say? If you are fielding interview questions, you’ll likely want to get across why you are right for the job. So, as simple as it sounds, be sure to do this. Pick out between five and ten talking points that you want to use, and then work around them.

All too often, a candidate will waffle on in an interview and forget that they’re there to sell themselves. As such, be sure to highlight your relevant experience for the role, as well as why you believe you’re the right fit for the company.

2. Recognise your audience

If your interviewer will also be your immediate manager or supervisor, you can safely assume that they will understand the latest industry terms. However, if you’re meeting with someone from HR or a professional that doesn’t deal with the day-to-day running of the department you’ll be joining, it might be best to use jargon sparingly. Having a couple of prepared elevator pitches to draw upon can help with this.

3. What do you hope to achieve?

As well as your work history, you want to get across what you hope to gain from your meeting. Obviously, when it comes to answering interview questions, you’ll want to get the job! However, you can also mention any career aspirations that you may have, and how you believe the role you’re interviewing for will get you there.

Mentioning career ambitions or goals early on will show the interviewer that you’re focussed and driven, which is always a plus.

4. Rehearse, but don’t sound like it

An elevator pitch has to become an automatic response, something that can be reeled off in job interviews, chance meetings at a coffee shop, and yes, even actual lifts. Yet, you don’t want to sound robotic in your delivery, which can become off putting.

Try to come across as positive, smile, and modulate your voice to avoid sounding monotone. With the actual meaning behind our words so reliant on our body language, you can get across your enthusiasm for the role and your personal ambitions in one quick burst.

5. It’s not a race

Yes, you don’t have long with an elevator pitch, but it is primarily an introduction that is meant to intrigue, so using broad, yet strong topics or themes will be enough for now. Don’t try to cram everything into one stream-of-consciousness style ramble! You’ll likely be asked a number of competency-based interview questions later on, where you can get more in depth with your answers.

You should also aim to speak clearly at a steady pace, which means that you shouldn’t be afraid to edit your elevator pitch down to its bare bones. In fact, it’ll likely be stronger for it.

We hope that these interview tips will help you to prepare for career success. Remember to come along with your own questions to ask in an interview. You may even get to hear the interviewer’s own elevator pitch, if you ask the right ones.

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