You know the question is coming in a job interview.
So… tell me about yourself. It’s critical that you have prepared your tell me about yourself answers.
But are you prepared to deliver a memorable introduction on the fly when you are introduced to the right contact at say a restaurant?
It, in fact ,happened to me the other day, and I’ll confess I didn’t have my A game on.
I was having lunch with a recruiter and he realized one of the persons at the table across from us was an officer from SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management).
“Hey, Brent. You need to connect with the woman over there about your event. I know her.”
“Uh, that would be great” (as I quickly started to script an introduction in my mind).
The introduction was made as the other party started to leave.
My clumsy elevator pitch went something like this…
“Hi, my name is Brent Peterson. My company is organizing a statewide networking event that’s going to be really cool. It’s not a job fair or anything like that. It’s speed networking. You know like speed dating but with job seekers. To drive out unemployment in our region. Oh, and we’re raising money for a great charity.”
Thankfully, she seemed very interested in spite of my lack of focus. We exchanged business cards and later on several emails. Thankfully, we gained SHRM’s support and promotion for our event to HR professionals in the area.
So the infamous “Tell Me About Yourself” or in my case “Tell Me What You Need” question should be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Here are 4 P’s to keep you (and me) focused:
People like to hear passion in your voice. So ask yourself what are you passionate about? If you don’t believe it, neither will the hiring manager. If you’re passionate about project management, for example, be upfront about it.
2. PROFESSIONAL VALUE
What value do you bring to the employer? Or to the community? Remember, it’s not about you. It’s always about what problems can you solve.
3. PERSONAL INTERESTS
If you want to be memorable, you have to go beyond the accolades on your resume. List one or two activities or interests (non-controversial) that make you more human and interesting.
Whatever you say, keep it succinct. If you talk for over a minute, you have spoken too long. If you meet someone at a restaurant or a reception, your brevity will speak volumes about how well you communicate in a professional setting. For reference, at the Virginia Career Speed Networking Event, each person will have one minute to deliver his pitch. And yes, there will be a one-minute “hour” glass at each table.
So here is the pitch I have now prepared (I wrote it down), practiced (it is exactly one minute), and delivered since that lunch encounter:
(Note: This is my full business speed networking pitch when breaking the ice with someone new and there is no introduction from a colleague. In circumstances like the encounter above, my elevator pitch/need is more direct and less light-hearted.)
“Hi, my name is Brent Peterson. Like Brent Musburger. Hold the Musburger. JMU and UVA Alum. By day, I serve and protect project managers for the Federal Reserve Bank. By night, I help Americans get hired.
I am the founder of a company called Interview Angel, Inc. based in Ashland, VA, the Center of the Universe. We deliver our product nationwide and have helped customers as close as the University of Richmond and as far away as Honolulu.
We are organizing a statewide professional speed networking event called Get Hired! Virginia on Tues, Oct 27th at 4 pm at the new state fairgrounds pavilion next to Kings Dominion. The purpose of the event is to drive out local unemployment, grow the regional economy, and raise proceeds for the Dress for Success charity. It would be wonderful to see all of you there making the connections you need to be successful.
Here is my business card. My contact information is on both sides. Please let me know how I can help you. I look forward to staying in touch and helping you achieve your goals. If nothing else, I enjoy meeting good folks at Starbucks to discuss football and the latest episode of Lost.”
Here is another example more for the actual interview setting (it covers all 4 P’s in less than 30 seconds):
Q: So tell me about yourself.
A: I am a senior project manager with 10 years of experience in corporate marketing. I am passionate about project management. I have a strong record of rallying team members together to meet the needs of the customer and to deliver results on time and within budget. I bring valuable experience from the retail, real estate, and final services industries.
In my free time, I enjoy swimming at the YMCA and volunteering at the community arts center in town.
So whether you are in a formal interview or in a chance encounter, always be prepared with your elevator pitch and tell me about yourself answers. Other people would be honored to meet you.
Brent Peterson, PMP, MS, MBA, is the founder of Interview Angel Inc, a company that offers a comprehensive guide and toolkit to executing near flawless job interviews. Discover customer testimonials, blog posts, upcoming events, and media interviews at www.interviewangel.com.
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