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Interviewing

Seize the opportunity to show that you are skilled, well spoken, and a good fit for a company

Whether you’re having informal chats at a career fair or a formal, one-on-one interview, you need to prepare to represent yourself well.

Career Networking Night Elevator Pitch Competition

What is an elevator pitch?

The elevator pitch is commonly used at networking events such as professional associations, conferences, and career fairs where you will introduce yourself to potential employers. Think of the elevator speech as a Tweet.  Keep it short and focused.

Why is it important?

If you’re on the job market, you should have an elevator pitch—a very brief summary of your key skills and abilities that you can use to successfully “pitch” yourself in 30 seconds or less. 

Still need more information on elevator pitches? Here is a good example of a pitch under 60 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL5C_-v18Cc

How can I take part in the Elevator Pitch Competition for Career Networking Night?

In order to win one of three scholarship prizes and optimum visibility of having your pitch played in front of the CNN employers you will need to do the following:

  1. Film yourself using your phone or laptop to record a 30 second or less elevator pitch.
  2. Upload your recorded video to YouTube.
  3. Submit the URL of your video to Ana Maria Sears, at cottons@wsu.edu (Please include in your submission your First and Last Name, Major, Student ID# and YouTube URL link. Please include the subject as: Elevator Pitch Competition)

Once you have emailed your submission you will be notified via email response that your submission has been received. All participants must submit their videos by February 1st to qualify.

Before an interview or career fair

Research companies of interest

For each company that interests you, know the basics:

  • Products, services, customers, markets, etc.
  • Organizational structure and size
  • Mission, goals, and values
  • Positions offered/career paths and types of jobs
  • Locations of offices, headquarters, etc.
  • Marketing campaigns and competitors
  • CEO and other upper-level management

Look for background information in the following places:

  • Company websites
  • Company’s annual report and press releases
  • Professional journals, magazines, and other publications

Determine how you could fit

  • If you are applying for a specific job, learn as much as you can about it.
  • Be able to articulate why you are interested in a specific company.
  • Match your qualifications to the company.

Get ready to introduce yourself

Prepare a 30-second introduction for yourself. Include:

  • Your name
  • Your year in school and major/minor
  • Career goals or interests
  • What makes you unique (club involvement, leadership, work experiences, etc.)
  • End on a question specific to whom you are speaking with

Example for Creating a Winning 30 Second Elevator Pitch

  1. (Who are you?) Hello, my name is ______ (offer handshake)
  2. (Mention a link if you have one) ________ suggested I contact you.
  3. (Connect yourself to them by mentioning some personal information) I am a ______ studying _________. OR I am interested in ___________.
  4. (Schmooze a little – acknowledge that you know a bit about them or have a mutual interest) I see/understand that you ______. I admire what you have done with ____. The _____ with _______ is very interesting.
  5. (Ask a leading question) What can you tell me about ________? I would like to hear more about _________.
  6. Thank you for your time. (Get contact info!) Do you have a business card?  Here is my card.  (Offer your info) I would love to talk with you more about this.  This is great information.  May I contact you later?

Anticipate questions

  • Practice answering questions with a mock interviewer and/or yourself in the mirror
  • Prepare three or four stories/experiences that illustrate your past performance using the STAR approach:
    • Situation: Describe the specific situation that you were in. This can be from a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
    • Task: Describe the task you needed to accomplish. What was the goal?
    • Action: Describe the action you took and keep the focus on what you did.
    • Results: Explain the results you achieved. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
  • Have two or three questions prepared to ask each representative individually.

Questions that interviewers may ask you

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is your most important accomplishment to date?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • What major problem have you had to deal with recently?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • If I were to ask one of your professors or a boss to describe you, what would they say?

Questions that you might ask your interviewers

  • What do you like best about your job?
  • What do you like best about this company?
  • What is the most important quality you are looking for in a candidate for this position?
  • What are your expectations for the person you hire?
  • What do you see as the main priorities of this position?
  • What do you see as the main challenges for this position?
  • Do you offer a training program? If so, can you explain it?
  • What are the advancement opportunities for this position and the typical time frame for advancement?
  • What makes this company/organization different from others?
  • What would a typical day be like in this position?
  • Where do you see the company headed in the next 3–5 years?
  • Can you explain your organizational structure?
  • How would you describe your corporate culture?
  • I’m excited about this position. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
  • What is your timeline for making this hiring decision?

At a career fair

  • Establish your top 5 employers and seek them first
  • Have a list of questions prepared for each recruiter
  • Use your knowledge of the company to your advantage when talking to them
  • Take notes
  • Be prepared to discuss why you are looking at one company over another
  • Express your interest
  • Ask about the interview process or timeline
  • Ask for an interview
  • Collect business cards and company brochures
  • Have a firm handshake and use it
  • Say “Thank you”
  • Ask questions
    • What qualities are you looking for in a potential employee?
    • What can I do to ensure I will be hired in the future?

At an interview

  • Dress professionally
  • Choose a dark-colored suit
  • Try on your outfit a week prior to the event to ensure it fits properly
  • Do NOT over-do it on the cologne or perfume
  • Hair should be conservative, combed, and not covering your eyes
  • Never chew gum
  • Cover up tattoos and take out piercings if possible
  • Carry breath mints and a comb just in case!
  • Make a good first impression
  • Arrive 10 minutes early
  • Introduce yourself
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Smile
  • Be confident and enthusiastic
  • Take copies of your resume and references in a professional portfolio.
  • Have questions prepared that you did not ask during your initial conversation
  • Concentrate on your qualifications and what you can bring to the company

Follow up and Thank You Cards

Send the interviewer an email or handwritten thank-you card within 48 hours. Doing so solidifies your interest in the position, demonstrates your professionalism, and distinguishes you from other candidates.

  • Use an appropriate “business-style” card
  • Send the card so the employer receives it within two or three days
  • Thank the recruiter for their time and prompt consideration
  • Don’t talk about yourself (except to briefly mention something important you forgot to say in person)
  • Write in a professional and formal manner—no slang or abbreviations
  • Keep it simple and brief
  • Address the card to the specific individual you talked to using Mr. or Ms.
  • If you met multiple people, write to each of them an individual card
  • Have someone proofread your cards to avoid errors
 
Washington State University