| By Cristina Scalzo |
“Tell me a little about yourself!” Whenever somebody asks me this question, my mind seems to always go blank and I suddenly become the most boring human being to ever walk on the face of the earth. I know I have accomplished things, I know I have work experience, but none of it comes to mind in that moment. This has happened to too many of us whether it is in a meeting, interview, or simply in an introduction.
How can we avoid this awkward silence when put on the spot?
Really, the only way to do this is to expect this type of question and be prepared. Your 60-90 second answer is called your “positioning statement” or “elevator pitch”. The purpose is to highlight what makes you unique from other candidates.
When preparing a positioning statement, here are some pieces of information that are essential to include:
• Who you are
If you haven’t already introduced yourself, include your name (first and last). If you are a student, include your field of study. If you are currently employed, include your professional label.
Student: “(Hi, my name is Sally Smith.) I am a junior education major with a focus on special education.”
Employed: “(Hi, my name is Sally Smith.) I am a sales representative for XYZ company and have been there for four years.”
• What your skills and strengths are
Think about what you are really gifted at and can bring to the table. Some examples include specific skills such as knowledge of certain functions or personal skills such as leadership ability.
“My strengths are focused in team building and problem-solving. I also have experience planning and teaching a unique curriculum to students.”
• Where you have gotten your experience
This section is fairly self-explanatory. Include the employer, company, program, etc. you have received your experience from.
“I have worked with students in two different elementary schools in the area. One was Astor school and my current placement is at Portland Village School”
• Your current goal/purpose
This piece of the statement lets the person you are meeting with clearly understand your purpose and how it relates to the position you are interviewing for.
There are two ways to go about this section. The first is to state what you are looking for:
Example: “Now, I am looking for a full time location for student teaching”.
Or, if you already know what specific position you are interviewing for, you might consider simply saying why you are interested in this position.
Example: “I am interested in this position because it fits my skill set and is in an area in which I am passionate about and desire to develop”.
Lastly, practice, practice, practice. Work as hard as you can to memorize the key points of your statement – but remember the importance of sounding “natural” rather than “over-rehearsed.” Adapt your positioning statement to the situation.
The Career Center offers private conference rooms which you can reserve if you would like to practice out loud in a more professional setting, or if you have a phone interview. Being prepared is the key to avoiding an awkward beginning to an interview. So get going! Write your short and simple positioning statement.