“So tell me about yourself…”

Get ready for this common question by responding with your 45-60 second commercial (aka your “elevator speech”).  Your commercial is a summary of your experience and skills and acts as a useful tool to introduce yourself when networking. This speech should informally summarize your qualifications and should be tailored to fit every situation. Your commercial should include what you’re bringing to the table, why you’re interested in this field/position and what brought you to it. In order to convince the interviewer, you need to really believe in what you do and be confident in your skill set. Practice your speech, remember the important information to recall without sounding like you memorized it, and have three strong reasons why the interviewer should be interested in you.


Types and Purposes of Interviews

Interview types include: Screening, Telephone/Skype, and Panel/Group Interviews.

  • The purpose of your first interview is Competency, the employer wants to know that you have the skills and requirements to fit the position.
  • The second interview has two purposes, to see that you are Compatible with the company and to see if there is Chemistry (meaning that they like you and believe that your personality is a good fit).


Before, During, and After an Interview

Before your interview: obtain the name and title of your interviewer, review the job description for your position, ask questions about the interview process, research the organization, prepare answers to questions and practice responses, create a list of questions to ask, and pack documents (resumes, references) that you have been asked to bring to the interview.

During your interview: arrive 15-30 minutes early, greet any staff you encounter with respect, show your passion and enthusiasm for the company and how you can help them solve problems they are facing, avoid salary discussion too early in the process, give specific examples of your previous experiences (SCAR stories), and don’t point out weaknesses that would disqualify you for the job. At the end of your interview when asked what questions you have, begin by recapping what you now know about the position as well as the skills and experiences that you believe make this a good fit, then ask prepared questions that you have for them.

After your interview: send a thank you letter within 24 hours that offers gratitude for their time, and follow up with a phone call to check on the status of the position and an update to when a decision will be made.


SCAR Stories

Interviewers want to hear examples of how you have solved problems in the past in order to see how you may solve issues in this position. SCAR stories are examples of your accomplishments that begin with:

  • a Situation: a brief overview of what you were asked to do
  • a Challenge: what was the issue that made this challenging?
  • Actions: brief description of the steps you took to complete the assignment
  • Results: what happened because of what you did, can you quantify the results?

Interviewees should have 11-15 SCAR stories prepared in order to demonstrate their skills and talents.


Questions to Ask

  • Ask “What is the #1 issue that you would like to resolve with this position?”
  • After you have recapped the interview, ask them “How well do you feel my skills fit this position?”
  • Ask when they are making a decision, when it would be convenient to call back and who to contact
  • Additionally, interviewees can ask more specific questions about job responsibilities, resources for the job, level of authority, performance evaluation criteria, and corporate culture to gain further understanding about the position and the company.


How Can I Learn More?

Come to the “Interviewing: Beyond the Basics” workshop at RochesterWorks! Aside from this overview, the facilitator provided a 6 page list of interview questions to practice your responses, and taught participants tactful responses to the most difficult interview questions. Attending this workshop followed by “Mock Interviews” will better prepare you for your next interview. (For additional information visit the Workshop Calendar and Descriptions on the RochesterWorks! Website)

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