Category Archives: The Interview

How to Write an Elevator Speech

Elevator pitches are used in many situations, thus it is important to know how to write an elevator speech. Whether you are trying to raise capital, promote your business, or market yourself, it is essential to have an elevator pitch.

You essentially have one minute to describe yourself, your business, your goals, and your passions to a complete stranger.  Not only do you have to communicate your message quickly, but you will have to do it clearly and effectively in order to entice your audience to want to know more!

6 Easy Steps to Writing an Elevator Pitch

Step 1: Know your audience – Your elevator speech will be more effective if it is clearly targeted to the individuals are you speaking to. Customize your elevator pitch so that it is appropriate to your audience. Having a generic elevator pitch will not always be effective.

Step 2: Know yourself – You need to fully know and be able to define precisely what your proposition is before you can convince anyone of it. Describe what you are offering, the problems you can solve, and the benefits you can bring to a prospective employer or client.

For example, if you are trying to promote yourself to an employer, answer the following questions:

1)      What are your key strengths and skills?
2)      What are your key achievements and accomplishments?
3)      Why are you interested in the company or industry?
4)      What can you bring to the company? How can you be of a benefit to the employer?

Step 3: Outline your talk – Start making an outline of what you want an employer or client to know. At this stage, do not worry about going into details right away. Keep in mind the questions discussed in step 2 and simply bullet point your answers. Keep your outline to a few key bullet points. Your goal is to capture the listener’s attention and interest so that they want to learn more. You do not want to give them your whole life story! Any extraneous details will distract the listener from your core message.

Step 4: Write your elevator speech – Now that you have an outline of the key things you want to say, you can start writing your speech. Expand on the bullet points that you made in step 3 and structure them into complete sentences. Make good transitions so that your sentences flow smoothly.

Step 5: Edit your speech – The way we write and the way we speak tend to be very different. With that in mind, go through your written speech and change any long words or uncommon vocabulary into everyday language. Then, time yourself saying the speech aloud to get an idea of how long your speech is at this point. Cut out any unnecessary words and sentences and adjust your speech to about thirty to sixty seconds.

Step 6: Finalize and practice your elevator pitch – Practice your elevator pitch until you memorize it! You never know who you will bump into, so you want to have your speech ready for any chance meetings. Of course, just like any other speech, make sure your pitch sounds natural and not rehearsed. Ask your friends and family to listen to your speech and see if they have any suggestions or feedback.

Now that you know how to write an elevator speech, here are 3 essential elevator pitch tips to keep in mind.

What Are Your Strengths? Interview Question

Unlike the “What are your weaknesses” question, the “What are your strengths?” interview question is one of the easiest questions you’ll be asked during your interview. This strength interview question gives you the perfect opportunity to modestly bring out your key traits and impress the interviewer in just the first few minutes of the interview.

The key to answering this question is being able to support your strengths with examples! You cannot only say, “I am hardworking, organized, patient, and a quick learner” because anyone can just list a bunch of generic strengths. That will not make the interviewer remember you. Instead, use this opportunity to prove to the interviewer that those are, in fact, your actual strengths by giving concrete examples. You need to show the interviewer how you stand out from the crowd, what it is that makes you different from the next candidate, and essentially persuade the interviewer with reasons why they should hire you.

You should describe the skills that you have that directly relate to the job that you are applying for. If you are unsure of what those skills may be, a helpful hint is that usually in the job posting, there is a description of the position itself, along with the skills a qualified candidate should have. You basically want to repeat some of those skills back to them, but support them with examples that prove to the interviewers that you do, indeed, possess them.

Some specific examples: Skills you may want to emphasize if you’re applying to these positions:

– Sales – Communication skills, persuasive, self-confident, persistence, sociable
– Accountant – Attentive to details, analytical, problem solver, good with math/numbers
– Lawyer – Persuasive, negotiator, problem solver, active listener, communication skills
– Teacher – Patient, communication skills, leadership skills, problem solver

Again, for any position, make sure you do your research and find out what skills are needed for the specific role that you are applying to. Emphasize those skills in your interview. You can also observe the skills and attitudes of the people who already have the job to give you a better idea of what employers are looking for.

“What Are Your Strengths?” Examples

NO: Bad Interview Answers: Listing out generic strengths without specific examples
–    ­“My greatest strength is that I have strong people skills. I’m always interacting with people in my previous jobs and helping them solve any problems that they may have. I love working with people and it really shows. I have also received a lot of positive feedback on my skills from my customers.” 

Remember, anyone can easily say this. Simply saying that you help people solve problems is too general. Giving a personal example of how you solved a problem may make this answer stronger.

YES: Good Interview Answer: Support your strengths with personal examples
–    “I am very organized and great with time management. This is mainly because I always keep a planner, where I write down all the important dates and deadlines. I set my priorities and goals so I know what I need to get done. Setting goals and staying organized are useful because I am able to get things done without procrastinating. For example, when I am given an assignment and I know it’s not due for another month, I get started on it right away because I feel more comfortable if I am able to get it out of my way and just be ready for any upcoming assignments that may have more strict deadlines. I guess that’s why I am always able to finish projects a few days before the given deadlines…” 

You should definitely share a personal story of how your organization skills or your effectiveness with time management has helped you with your work. Sharing personal stories will give the interviewer a sense of honesty. However, remember to keep your story concise, relate to the point that you’re trying to make, and not deviate from the question.

–    Other strengths you can use for the interview include: Attentive to detail, patient, self-confident, quick learner, problem solver, team player, initiator, any technical skills etc. – All these are great qualities, but again, make sure you are able to support these strengths with examples!

This question allows you to have the absolute right to brag about yourself because you are essentially trying to sell yourself to the company! If you don’t feel comfortable “bragging” about yourself, just think of it like this: If you don’t brag about yourself right now, no one else is going to! But you want to make sure you do it humbly and avoid over exaggerating your skills. You don’t want to come off as egoistic. Nevertheless, the “What Are Your Strengths?” interview question gives you a great opportunity for you to shine and amaze your interviewer.

“Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

After you walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer, sit down, many interviewers will then begin by asking you the “Tell me about yourself” interview question. Many candidates find this to be one of the most challenging questions to answer, as they wonder what the interviewer really wants to know and what information they should share. Since it’s such a common interview question, you would think that candidates would spend more time preparing a strong answer. Surprisingly though, many candidates mess up this question, thus creating a negative first impression and setting an awkward tone for the remainder of the interview.

“Tell me about yourself” Examples

NO: Bad Interview Answer: Rambling
–    “Well what do you want to know?” As innocent as this question may sound, never ask this question back to the interviewer. This will only show that you have not prepared properly for the interview. You should have already prepared an answer for this question, especially since this is such a popular interview question.

–    “Well I was born in California and I’m happily married with two kids…” The fact that this question is so open-ended does not mean you can spend the next 5 minutes rambling on how you grew up. No matter how interesting your personal life may be, resist the temptation to ramble. This question is often a test of how you handle yourself in an unstructured situation and what you think is important.

YES: Good Interview Answer:  Bringing out your strengths and interest
–  “I’ve been in this industry for 5 years. My most recent experience has been _____. The reason why I am interested in this position and particularly this company is ______.” Give the interviewer a little background on your prior accomplishments and experiences. Show them your genuine interest in the position. Provide as many examples as possible.

– “My real strengths are that I am very organized and great with time management. This is mainly because ______. These strengths have always helped me with my job. For example, back at my last job, ______.” After giving a little background on why you are interested in the position, mention your greatest strengths and skills. The interviewer wants to know what you can do for the company.

Since this is one of the first interview questions to be asked, it really sets the tone for the rest of the interview. This is the time to bring in your personal pitch that you have worked on for so long. This is your chance to make a good first impression and come off as a strong candidate. Practice your answer to this question out loud to yourself, your friends, or your family until you feel confident of your answer. You also do not want to sound like you memorized your answer. Regardless of how many times you have rehearsed, your answer should sound natural and conversational.

Even if you are not asked this question at the beginning of the interview, preparing your answer for this question will keep you focused on what you have to offer. You will find answering, “Why are you interested in working for this company?” or “What are your strengths?” will be similar to how you answered the “Tell me about yourself” interview question.