Take a Ride in an Elevator for Interview Success

“Tell me about yourself.”

On the surface, that doesn’t seem like a difficult question to answer. In fact, you probably have lots to say about who you are, your interests and your dreams for the future. The challenge for an interview, however, is to tell the recruiter about yourself in one minute or less. We call this your “elevator speech”–a short, concise synopsis that could be delivered, say, in an elevator between floors.

Having an elevator speech prepared ahead of any interview can set a positive tone at the beginning of the interview and create a great first impression. You can provide a brief summary of your skills, experience and interests while leaving the door open for the recruiter to ask more detailed questions later on. And, your elevator speech should position you as the best candidate for the job.

Here are a few tips for developing your elevator speech:

• Introduce yourself. State your name (if not already established), current title or profession, and the industry/industries where you’ve gained your experience.

• Name something unique about yourself that will make you stand out from other candidates. Perhaps you have a unique skill, you held a coveted/prestigious internship position or you held an officer position in a campus organization.

• Make yourself memorable. Try to make your speech interesting, show your personality, or provide a quick story that will help the recruiter remember you.

• Practice, practice, practice. Practice your speech until you have it memorized. This quick synopsis about you should be something you can recall at a moment’s notice.

Once you’ve mastered your elevator speech, you’ll need to be ready to provide detailed examples about your work experience and skills. So, take some time to prepare for your interview–especially for questions that begin with “Tell me about a time” or “Describe a situation or challenge …” These questions are commonly known as behavioral questions.

Behavioral questions are designed to gain insight into how you apply yourself. It’s critical to give the recruiter detailed information about the scenario, what you did, and the results. In other words Situation, Behavior, Outcome. If you remember S-B-O, you will be able to navigate the road of behavioral interviewing.

Interview questions aren’t meant to be difficult. You just need to be prepared–for the interview and the entire hiring process. Make a list of the questions you anticipate and practice answering them. And, don’t forget to make a list of your own questions for the interviewer. All of this prep work will translate into a better interview and, hopefully for you, more of a chance of getting that job.


Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

Related posts:

  1. The Elevator Pitch: Promote and Position Your Personal Brand
  2. Ask Questions During a Job Interview
  3. Career Fairs 101

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