Interview introductions: how to perfect your personal pitch
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, networking events and careers fairs. The process of creating one also helps you to focus on what employers want and helps you to filter information such that you demonstrate how specifically you meet their requirements.
60 seconds to change your fortunes
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 go right back to your earliest childhood memory and regale graduate recruiters with tales of your first love, your favourite band and your obsession with Wolverhampton Wanderers. 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 company 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.
- Adapt it for different audiences and occasions: tailor it for maximum impact.