Skip to main content

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

Most people dread the question “tell me about yourself.” It can be difficult to articulate who you are in less than a minute. Preparing an elevator pitch can take the awkwardness out of the equation. 

If you are in the market for a new job, you should be prepared to hear the question “tell me about yourself.” The question may come in a slightly different format, but the intent will be the same. The best way to answer this question is by being prepared and practicing in advance.

First, what is an elevator pitch? Simply put, it is a very brief narrative describing who you are, what you do, and in the case of an interview, either why you are a good fit for the job or the company. An elevator pitch is called that because it should be a response you can provide in less time than you would normally spend with a stranger on an elevator, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Second, how can you prepare an elevator pitch? The easiest way is to break it down into three parts:

Who are you?

This is probably the hardest part of the elevator pitch for people to create. Why? Because there are so many aspects of your life that make you who you are over the years. Keep in mind this pitch is designed for an interview. Provide your name, general job title or industry of expertise, degree or education attainment (depending on relevance), and one or two additional sentences about you professionally. The key here is to stay focused on your professional life, not your personal life. 

What do you do?

Since you may have given your industry or job title already (in “who you are”), this might seem redundant. IT IS NOT. This is a critical part of your pitch where you have the opportunity to set yourself apart and be perceived as an expert in your industry. This part of your response should clearly demonstrate value to an employer. Be creative. When preparing this section of your pitch, think about what you do that makes you good at your profession. 

Why are you a good fit for this job or company? What are you looking for in your career?

The last part of your elevator pitch may vary depending on your circumstances and how much you already know about the company and job for which you are interviewing. This is your opportunity to plug yourself into the specific job or company culture or set yourself up to solve a problem you know the company is facing. Think of this as the closing statement of a sales pitch! Prepare a response that is concise yet targeted. Yes, this means you may need to customize this part of your elevator pitch for every interview!

So, now you know how to build an elevator pitch. Let’s look at an example:

I am Betty Smith, a marketing professional with a strong record of helping non-profits increase their brand awareness and fundraiser contributions. During my MBA program, I interned at a non-profit and loved the impact I made for the community and organization. That is what kickstarted my passion for specializing in non-profit marketing. I write creative and engaging content that resonates with my audience and encourages them to follow and interact in our content, instead of deleting or unsubscribing. I am excited about helping (Company) grow your donations and sponsor base and learning more about the marketing initiatives on your agenda. Can you elaborate on some of your marketing goals and challenges?

Consider the example above. The “who you are” is a very short snippet of your name with a reference to your profession, education, and quick note on how you got into the industry/profession. The “what do you do” is a very short explanation that does not just indicate you are marketing professional, but tells the manager what you are good at- that you can engage your audience for continued support and interaction. This demonstrates value, not just tasks. The “what are you looking for” quickly references your goals- to help this company grow their donation and sponsor base. Now, for this last part to be effective, you needed to know that growing their donation and sponsor base was a goal (either through research on their website, blogs, job ads, etc.). If you had not known that, you would have plugged yourself into the specific job or company culture, depending on what information was available to you. Wrap it all up with a call to action or engaging question.

Looking for more examples? Check out this post from Indeed.

So, you get the point on how to develop your elevator pitch. Below are a few important tips to effectively execute your elevator pitch:

  1. Write it down
  2. Read it aloud multiple times and time yourself
  3. Tweak until your response is smooth and under 60 seconds
  4. Recite it for family, friends, or peers and encourage honest feedback
  5. Tweak again and again as needed
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice so that the verbiage flows smoothly, is relevant for your audience, and sounds authentic (and it should be authentic and relevant)
  7. Have two or three iterations so you are prepared to deliver your elevator pitch to more than one person at the same company (without sounding like a robot) and can customize your response for the audience (such as a version prepared for HR and another for the CEO)
  8. Tweak as needed until you have it mastered

Now that you know how to prepare your elevator pitch, get your pen out and get started. 

For more job search tips, check out our other blog or social media posts (LinkedIn,FacebookTwitter). There is also a great article from Forbes that can provide additional information.