Strategies for Executive Job Seekers: Developing an Effective Elevator Pitch

Many structured executive job interviews, particularly those at large companies, start with a question like "tell me about yourself." The interviewer doesn't really want you to go back to grade school and talk about your childhood. This is, of course, a specific question with a specific answer. In two minutes or so, the interviewer wants to get you to relax so he or she can understand your background, your accomplishments, why you want an executive job at the company in question, and what your future goals are. Here's how to narrow your life down into a brief but relevant and professional answer.

Could you effectively sell/describe yourself in 1-2 minutes?

Key steps

  1. Spend about 1-2 hours writing down your top five executive job or personal experiences. These experiences should follow the format: situation/task, action, and result (STAR). What was the situation, what did you do, and what happened?
  2. Narrow each down to a paragraph. Think about the STAR format as a 100-point pie chart. Only about 15-20 points should go to the situation, with about 40 points going to your actions and 30-35 points to the results.
  3. Think about the themes that come across. Are you all about growth, customer focus, sales excellence, product innovation? How do these themes come through? How do your job experiences reflect a recurring theme?
  4. Pick your top themes. What are the top two things you want the interviewer to remember about you? When you have finished answering the question, the interviewer should know clearly what these top two things are.
  5. Put it together. A good way to finalize this is to use the word-count feature on your word processor. At 150 words per minute, you should not use much more than 350 words for your pitch. You'll generally want to start with your education, unless that was a very long time ago. Quickly move past undergrad and launch into your job history, keeping in mind that you want to highlight your top 3-5 experiences and not every last thing you did in each job. Keep your education and job history to 75% of your time. Save the last moments for why this company will benefit from your expertise in this executive position, and what your future goals are. These goals should match the new opportunity at this company.

A few extra tips

  • Once you have your personal elevator pitch, practice it in front of the mirror. If possible, try to video or audio tape yourself, and watch yourself in fast forward. This is a great way to pin down your nervous job interview habits!
  • Even though you've prepared and practiced, keep it natural. Remember to breathe and smile.
  • Rehearse for your executive job interview, but make sure it doesn't LOOK rehearsed


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