Interview introductions: how to perfect your personal pitch

Being able to succinctly explain your achievements and career goals is crucial to making a good first impression, whether you are talking to recruiters at careers fairs, doing the 'small talk' at assessment days or answering the interview question 'tell us something about yourself'.

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A personal pitch is basically a succinct introduction to yourself and your background. Having an outline pitch ready is a great confidence-booster for graduate interviews (whether in-person, over the phone or over video), networking events and careers fairs. The process of creating one also helps you to focus on what employers want and helps you specifically demonstrate how you meet their requirements.

60 seconds to make an impact

An elevator pitch is the typical example: imagine getting into an elevator and bumping into an influential person who could change your fortunes drastically. How would you sell yourself to them in the 60 seconds it takes for the lift to reach the ground floor and make sure they want to hear more?

In fact, this sort of exercise could crop up at an assessment centre, but here we're talking basics: being ready when an interviewer kicks-off proceedings by asking you to 'tell them a little bit about yourself'.

How to sum yourself up

Introducing yourself might sound simple, but it is easy to get flustered when you're under pressure. Set aside some time to prepare your pitch in advance.

First: 'tell us about yourself' doesn't mean you should share every detail of your life from your earliest childhood memory to your recent obsession with the new series of Game of Thrones . This question is generally aimed at relaxing you into the interview and gaining a brief overview of your academic and work background and why you want to work for them .

Think about your top three or five experiences, at work, university or in your personal life. Consider the themes, personality traits and skills that come across through these experiences and which are the most important to get across to recruiters. Pick one or two experiences and themes that match the selection criteria for the job and focus on them throughout.

As a general rule, spend 75% of the pitch giving a brief run through of your academic and work history, making sure to highlight those top experiences, themes and skills. Round up your pitch by explaining why you want to work for the employer and give some career goals that you could achieve through the position.

Practice your pitch

Find a willing volunteer and practice pitching yourself to them. It often helps to get a second opinion on the way you present as a friend will be able to point out any nervous habits, odd phrases, or achievements that you've missed out.

Strike a balance between ensuring you're well-practised but keeping it sounding natural. You don't want to recite it like a parrot, and being flexible means you can ad lib, should the occasion demand it.

Top tips for pitching:

  • Keep it short and snappy.
  • Keep it natural: breathe, smile and be yourself.
  • Avoid gimmicks: your pitch should reflect your professionalism.
  • Rehearse: practice makes perfect.
  • Maintain eye contact: we are not talking a scary stare here, but remember that this is the opening to a conversation and eye contact engages the other person. If you are on a video platform, make sure that you know where the web camera is and that you are talking into it!
  • Adapt it for different audiences and occasions: tailor it for maximum impact.

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