Before you ever talk with a recruiter or interviewer, it is important to prepare for the questions you know you will be asked. One of those questions comes at the beginning of every conversation, whether it is a phone screen, technical session, or behavioral interview: “tell me about yourself.”
If you do not prepare your elevator pitch, which is the response to that question, in advance, you will likely fall into the trap of rambling and trailing off at the end. We have worked with hundreds of job-seekers on mastering their elevator pitch so that they start the interview with confidence and continue that way.
Before you even begin writing your elevator pitch, you should research the company to understand their mission, values, and culture.
Their About page will give you valuable information about their mission and company “Why.” You should always tie your responses, especially to a “why this company” question, back to their mission. Look at their product pages and understand what they do and how your past experience or studies relates. Read their company values and ensure you fit into their culture. The company’s values are the closest thing they have for a rubric to test if you are a cultural fit for the team, which is important to getting the job.
Once you have a sense of their mission, values, culture, and products, you can start to craft your elevator pitch. A strong pitch for an interview should be 2-5 minutes about your education, experience, projects, and a conclusion with a summary of yourself as a candidate and a preview of “why this company.”
When crafting a response to “why this company,” keep this structure in mind: Mission or product first, approach or values second (ex: “Nobody else approaches it like you. You are being more scientific than ever before”). Avoid perks, salary, and everything else.
An elevator pitch template:
Hi, I’m [name]. I graduated from [school] in [year], with a major in [concentration]. I’ve always been interested in working in [field]. [Talk about the reason why]
While I was at school, I spent summers as a [type of] intern at [company or companies]. While working at [specific company or position], I learned a lot about [connection to company you are interviewing with]. [Discuss the rest of your experience – include up to 1-2 other projects/extracurriculars if there is anything especially impressive in terms of leadership or accomplishments].
With my experience and studies, I know I would be a valuable addition to the team, helping make an impact doing [company mission]. [Very briefly explain why that mission is important to you – you will have more time to elaborate on this later so just give a preview]
Example of elevator pitch:
Hi, I’m Lizzie. I graduated from Northwestern in 2015, with a major in computer science. I’ve always been interested in working in software engineering because I love creating beautiful websites from scratch.
While I was at school, I spent summers as a software engineering intern at Twitter and Facebook. While working at Twitter, I was on the team responsible for ensuring community standards for their users. I learned a lot about how I could use machine learning to create a safe online community. Building a safer Internet is something that is really important to me and it’s exciting to see that Google feels the same way.
With my past experience, I know I would be a valuable addition to the team that is working to give their users the protection they need.
If you plan your elevator pitch in advance and practice it in front of a mirror or a friend, you will feel confident and comfortable introducing yourself with impact at the beginning of your interviews.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. If you want to work with a mentor 1-on-1 to get help with your elevator pitch or any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise.