Many structured interviews, particularly those at large companies, start with a question like “tell me about yourself.” The interviewer doesn’t really want you to go back to grade school and talk about your childhood. This is a specific question with a specific answer…in two minutes or so, the interviewer wants to get you to relax and loosen out your vocal cords, understand your background, your accomplishments, why you want to work at XYZ company and what your future goals are.
The term “Elevator Pitch” began as a term used to describe a planned and rehearsed 30 second pitch you could give in the short time you would have when you meet someone on the 20th story of a high-rise building elevator and you have until ground floor to tell them of your job hunt and get them to offer a key connection or referral (30-60 seconds). That conversation usually starts out something like this. “Oh, Hi Harry. What are you doing on the 20th story of the XYZ Building”? Or, “What brings you to the grocery store today?” By your answer, you will either waste the next 30-60 seconds or use it to give your “Elevator Pitch” and get another contact or referral to further your job search.
Here’s how to narrow your life down into a brief but relevant and professional answer.