[Example Included] How to Pitch Yourself

[Example Included] How to Pitch Yourself

October 23, 2016 Interviewing

Last week, I shared that the most effective strategy for answering this typical “conversation starter” interview question relies on your understanding of your interviewer(s).

  • What are his interests?
  • What are his priorities?

I went further to help give you ideas on how to go about understanding an interviewer before you meet with him.

Now, let’s imagine that you did your homework before the interview.

Here’s an example of what you may have uncovered via LinkedIn about your interviewer, *Denis:

A former direct report said this about Denis:

“It is my honor to recommend Denis. I reported to him my first couple of years at Company X. He is an outstanding manager with a respectful and caring attitude for others. He is a dedicated, diligent and proactive person who demonstrates an excellent ability to achieve success in challenging business climates. It was a pleasure to work with Denis – he is a delightful person to be around. I learned a great deal from his leadership.”

Meanwhile, a former peer said this about Denis:

“It has been my pleasure to know and work with Denis over the past several years. Denis is a true sourcing professional in every sense of the word. Denis’s dedication to the successful completion of all projects and initiatives is a rare quality admired by those who have been fortunate enough to work with him. But the quality I admire most in Denis is his uncompromised ethics. Denis has set the standard in how to engage with suppliers and conduct the business relationship. Denis has always demonstrated a strong desire to advance in his knowledge base and grow through continuing education. The qualities that Denis demonstrates in his professional life are evident in his personal life and it is my greatest pleasure to call Denis my friend.”

*Names have been changed.

While looking at this information, it makes sense to think about the following points in your “Tell me about yourself” answer to strike a chord with Denis.

  • You could mention your people leadership and style especially if you too are caring
  • You should think about moments when you were proactive in challenging business climates
  • You can highlight the ways that you’ve appreciated the successful completion of projects
  • You can talk to your ethics and integrity
  • You can point to your thirst for knowledge

This is how your story could unfold while leveraging these interview prework findings to your benefit.

For example, your answer to that “tell me about yourself” interview question could sound like this:

From day one of my 20-year career at American Tire Distributors, I was expected to play a leadership role both in my job within the company, as well as externally in the industries I was involved in.  My brand of leadership has been steady despite challenging business climates, includes a sense of curiosity and eagerness to continue to learn, and along the way during these past two decades I’ve earned a reputation for holding myself to a high ethical standard professionally as well as personally.

Now I’d like to share with you in more specific terms how my leadership brand has translated to my purchases work in four relevant ways to this role, for example:

  • By envisioning sourcing strategies for every area I have been in. Ranging from a specific material or service, for one region, to large spend pools of hundreds of millions of dollars. Applicable to this role, I was responsible for X, Y, and Z and have led sourcing interventions for all of them.
  • In IT Sourcing, I led a team of 21 buyers across 3 continents, with defined areas of expertise, but also high degree of “flow to work” to ensure everyone was working on key company initiatives. And beyond our effectiveness as a team, I’m most proud of my track record as a mentor to my team – ten of whom are now leaders across the company – it is this commitment to my team that I’d most enjoy establishing here.
  • Through my dedication to the successful completion of projects and strong relationship with my cross-functional partners who didn’t have a reporting line into purchasing, but whose support and actions were needed for the execution of each assignment. During sourcing processes, I was responsible for “connecting the dots” across the shared services organization globally, partner with functions such as IT, Legal, HR, Supply Chain, Marketing, Finance and R&D. This ensured that strategies properly addressed business needs.
  • By encouraging and empowering suppliers to innovate both in materials and services, as well as unique commercial models. For example, in the area of software sourcing, I established co-commercialization models with our suppliers, where American Tire Distributors received improved software deals, while the suppliers commercialized innovative ways ATD used their software.

The execution of these strategies have yielded savings that have always met or exceeded company goals, and in the case of services and IT sourcing they also produced improvements in service and user experience for ATD employees. I’m now ready to start a new chapter in my life given my long-term success with one employer and have no doubt in my mind that my learnings would be applicable and timely given the recent tire market changes, etc.

The insight here is that you can uncover rich and useful information about an interviewer before meeting him and you should authentically use your findings to resonate with an interviewer.

In conclusion, my example is simply scratching the surface on the type of due diligence that can be done in preparation of a job interview. This example relies on you knowing your interviewer’s name and also knowing who is the decision-maker given that it would be too time-consuming to change your interview answer for every interviewer. Now for when you don’t have this information, here is your next best bet. There are other ways to approach your interview preparation and I encourage you to learn more about the Problem SWOTer in order to see how by analyzing a company’s situation rather than your interviewers you too can craft and deliver a highly effective answer to the tell me about yourself question.

In the meantime, are you ready to pitch yourself?

How confident are you about your current answer to the “tell me about yourself question”?

How does it compare with this sample?

As an experienced coach to interviewees and interviewers, it is a wise investment of your time to refine your answer to this question if you’d like to leave a favorable impression.

You’ll need to be ready with your pitch – why not ground it in what matters to your employer?

You now have proven tools and resources available to you to craft a highly effective pitch that will sell you even if you don’t know much about your interviewers.

About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.