Thursday, March 21, 2013

The #1 Interview Question

The #1 Interview Question:  Tell me about yourself!
The interview is beginning.  The interviewer looks across her desk and asks the interview "ice breaker" question to start the conversation. . .
    "Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”  
The interviewee stammers a little, hems and haws, clears his throat, and begins a monologue that goes on
way, way too long! 
    “Uhm, well I grew up in Florida , lived there most of my life, went to Florida State University, majored in philosophy, and then I took a year off to help my Dad out in his construction business.  My first job was in 1972 when I was hired as a  . . . .”
The interviewer listens patiently, acts interested, but is secretly thinking: “What does this have to do with the job he's applying for?  Get to the point.”

Sound familiar?  If you have ever sat in the interviewee's seat and experienced the situation just described, you are not alone.  In fact, many, if not most job seekers, have had a similar experience. We know what we want to say about ourselves and our experience; we just can’t seem to say it!

In an interview, any job seeker wants to make a good first impression.  You want to convey that you are the candidate who can get the job done!  You want to appear motivated and capable. You want to show that you are qualified to perform the duties of the job and then some.  You just can’t seem to say it, or to say it as well as you would like.

Why not?  What goes wrong?  What’s missing?
Generally when a job seeker stammers, and hems and haws at the beginning of an interview, or is just too wordy, what is missing is a prepared and practiced short presentation that "tells the interviewer about yourself."  This short, precise presentation, highlighting relevant experience, qualifications, and skills, is -- by another name  -- an 'L'vator speech!

What is an 'L'vator speech?
An 'L'vator speech is a professional self-description that can be said in 30 seconds or less.. Theoretically, it can be said in the time you travel in an elevator from the 1st to the 14th floor. . . .hence, the term 'L'vator speech!  AND, when you're done, your listener has a pretty good  idea of what you do and do well.

In other words, your 'L'vator speech is a short, concise, prepared in advance, and well-practiced description of your expertise, abilities, skills, and accomplishments that are relevant to the job you are interviewing for.

How do you do it? . . .  With this 5-Step Model
It can be a bit mystifying to try to figure out how to describe the essence of your experience in less than 30 seconds.  So, here's a method to do just that.  Below is a 5-Step Model for preparing your 'L'vator speech.  The model allows you to tell the listener, in 30 seconds or less, what you do and what you are expert at.  It helps you showcase your skills, and highlight relevant accomplishments.  It provides you a way to ask for your desired outcome from the discussion.  So, . . . take out a pencil and paper and begin to craft your 'L'vator speech --  your answer to the #1 interview question:  "So why don't you tell me a little about yourself?"

5-Step Model to craft your 'L'vator speech
Step 1. Start with your profession.  State what you do in a couple of words?
    I am a ________________________________    
    I’m an electronics engineer.   I’m a manager.  I’m an administrative assistant.

Step 2.  Identify your area(s) of expertise. What makes you stand out from the crowd?
    I'm a ____________,with in-depth experience or expertise in ________________
    I’m an electronics engineer, with extensive experience in designing systems that . . . 
    I’m a manager who consistently runs departments that function like clockwork.
    I’m an administrative assistant who never misses a deadline.

Step 3.  Identify your areas of skill that are relevant to the job your are seeking.
    I’m particularly skilled in______________,  or I’m adept at _____________________
    I am skilled in helping the customer implement new systems with no downtime.
    I’m really effective at planning and budgeting so that the programs I manage come in on time and within budget.
    I’m current in the latest office computer software so I’ll be productive right off the bat!

Step 4.  Identify knowledge, strengths, and unique attributes that are relevant to the position.
    I am certified in__________, or, I am trained in__________, or I was awarded the__________
    I hold a Master's degree in advanced electronics engineering.
    I am a certified Program Manager.
    I was recognized as the “Employee of the Year” by my previous employer and earned a cash award.

Step 5. Ask for what you want.  What are you trying to achieve?
    I am looking to__________, or, I am seeking __________, or I hope to__________
    I am looking for a Systems Engineering position that uses_____________
    I am hoping you can refer me to a person in your network who is familiar with ___________________
    I am seeking an  opportunity to _________________

Using the 5-Step Model will help you craft an 'L'vator speech that gets to the point and accomplishes your objective of “telling the listener about you." 

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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