In most interviews, the first thing you will be asked is “Tell me about yourself,” or “Walk me through your resume.” Put the question to work for you by hitting the interviewer upfront, when attention is greatest, with your best stuff. The interviewer is only going to remember 1-2 things about you. Make sure they are the things that make you stand out.
1. Start with the most recent experience first, and work backwards.
Good: “Since I left college, I’ve been temping and coaching high school lacrosse.”
Bad: “I grew up in Rhode Island and started playing lacrosse in 4th grade.”
2. Touch briefly on each key element of your resume.
Good: “I was a Government major, had my own college radio show interviewing campus athletes, and during the summers I worked in a garden store.”
Bad: “I started out as a History major because I really like history and reading, but then realized the administration made us take a lot of ancient history for the major and ….” (You lost the interviewer at ‘administration.’)
3. Link each key element to your enthusiasm for the available position whenever possible.
Good: “The temp job is paying the bills, and in my free time I am reading all I can about the (insert relevant industry) business.”
Bad: “The temp job is at a law firm where my neighbor works. I’m mostly just filing.”
4. Link each key element to the transferrable skills you learned from it.
Good: “My experience in lacrosse has made me a great team player and I am focusing on getting a role where I can use my team skills. My experience in the garden store taught me a lot about customer service, and how to handle it when five different customers wanted me to do something different at the same time.”
Bad: “I like coaching lacrosse because I still get to stay in shape with the exercise. The garden store was kind of fun because I learned a lot about plants and I got good tips. “
5. Be prepared for the next question to go into more depth about what you’ve just said.
Good: “Why do I think the team skills I got through lacrosse will help me with this role? Well, I learned how to work well with a lot of different personalities. I know how important it is to stay calm under pressure. I learned how to ask for help when I needed it, and when I had to figure things out on my own. Based on what I know about how your company adds value to clients, I’m confident that those skills would help me here too.
Bad: “Did I learn anything from lacrosse that could help me here? I guess I know a lot about winning!”