Sell Yourself at Job Interviews

Sell yourself at job interviews is perhaps one of the most difficult things one can do – as you do not want to brag but you do want to make sure the employer or recruiter FULLY understands the value that you bring to the table, and not to focus so much on just your age or whether you “fit” a certain profile.

It is useful to know how to sell yourself effectively to catch the attention of hiring managers and stand out from the competition in chance meetings and situations.

Similar to a company’s services or products, you need to know how to promote and sell your skills to hiring managers and recruiters. A short personal speech (the elevator pitch) can help you engage the employer and make a strong impression that they will likely remember throughout the hiring process.

In turn, it will help you stand out from the crowd, and keep you front of mind – which is important throughout the hiring process.

What Is a Personal Speech (or Elevator Pitch)?

elevator pitch

A personal speech — also known as an elevator pitch — is a quick summary of your background, experience, and career achievements.

Why is it called an elevator pitch?

It’s called an elevator pitch because it should be short enough to be presented during a brief elevator ride (approximately 45 to 60 sec in length).

This speech is all about you: who you are, what you do in your career, and what your goals are.

What elements make a great elevator/ personal speech?

  • It should inform the listener who you are, what your credentials have, and maybe a recent problem you solved
  • It MUST clearly state your personal value proposition, highlighting your personal brand
  • It NEEDS to create a curiosity in the listener to ask questions – much like a book cover draws your attention and piques your interest in the book.
  • Give yourself the chance to ask additional questions, in order to create a connection – adding what you want to do, or what opportunities you are looking for (if you are job hunting).

A good and effective speech is important because it is a great way to demonstrate your professional aptitude, your strengths, and your skills. Elevator pitches are quick conversations however, it is important NOT to speak too fast.

Keep the speech to around 50 words, which should help you deliver prime information about yourself in a clear, digestible, and professional manner.

Create An Effective Personal Speech, 4 Tips

An effective personal pitch should contain the following:

  1. The Problem: Show the hiring manager that you understand the needs of the company by stating a problem
  2. The Solution: Tell the hiring manager why hiring you solves their staffing or other organizational problems
  3. Showcase Your Unique Personal Value Proposition: Briefly explain why you are the best choice
  4. The Hook: End with a memorable value proposition or another hook that will interest the hiring manager in learning more about you – think of that book cover and how it draws you into wanting to know more about the story.
upward career path

A personal speech (or elevator pitch) will present itself in many places in many situations, and NOT just in an elevator!

Whether you are at a networking event, interviewing for your dream job, just meeting a potential new colleague, or at your son or daughter’s school event you can be sure the following question will come up in a conversation:

“So, tell me about yourself.”

These words can turn a simple conversation into a meaningful moment in your career, that is if you are prepared, and also shows why you need to know your elevator pitch and craft a personal speech that will wow and captivate potential employers and business associates and make them want to know more about you.

A Formula for Success

As your work on your speech, keep these bits of advice in mind:

Communicate Slowly and Clearly

You might feel pressured to speak quickly in order to fit a ton of relevant information into your pitch. It is important to resist the urge to rush and speak too fast. It does not matter if you have an excellent elevator pitch if your audience does not understand, cannot follow, or cannot retain what you are saying!

Keep It Simple

Less is more – you should always assume that the person you are talking to is not acquainted with any industry or professional terms, abbreviations, or acronyms that might be second nature to you. You certainly do NOT want your message to get lost in the conversion.

Ooze Passion and Eagerness

Do not be so worried about reciting your elevator speech so perfectly that you seem to be reading from a script. You need to keep the pitch to a flowing conversation. Watch your tone, pause for emphasis, and remain upbeat and positive.

Practice And More Practice Makes Perfect

It is well-known that Michael Jordan (and other greats) were not perfect at the start – so the best way to guarantee your elevator pitch is up to standards and achieves your objective is by practicing.

practice makes perfect

Rehearse it in front of a mirror, also speaking into a recorder is great as you can play it back later and listen to your speech patterns and tone, practice in front of friends or trusted advisers, and tell these folks to provide you honest and candid feedback.

In short, if done right, these speeches will help introduce you to a new career, business connection, or other industry contacts in a compelling way.

It can help you build your network or help you to connect with new colleagues on your first day of work.

Important Takeaways

  • Keep your speech short simple and sweet, aiming to deliver your message in 60 seconds or less
  • Say who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve
  • Be positive and persuasive with your limited time, stay on task to what you want to do, and not what you don’t want to do
  • Deliver your speech with strong confidence and conviction
  • The more you practice, the better your speech

If you are job searching, you can use your elevator pitch at job fairs and career expos and online in your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page can be a good place as well as your Twitter bio. An elevator speech is a great way to gain confidence in introducing yourself to hiring managers and company representatives.

You can also use your elevator pitch to introduce yourself at networking events and mixers. If you are attending professional association programs, seminars, and other business activities, charity events, or any other type of gathering, have your pitch ready to share with those you meet.

Get comfortable with it, practice it until it flows as natural as your regular conversation – it should NEVER come across as rehearsed or scripted. The words should flow in your normal tone, style of talking, and speech patterns.

Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!


In conclusion, the art of selling yourself may be perhaps one of the most difficult and uncomfortable things one can do – but as you practice it will become more and more comfortable for you. Again, you do NOT want to brag but you DO want to make sure employers and recruiters FULLY understand the value that you bring, and NOT focus on your age.

Knowing how to sell yourself effectively to catch the attention of hiring managers, and your superiors and stand out from the competition is a key strategy in your career toolbox helping you to find new opportunities or to advance your career.

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4 thoughts on “Sell Yourself at Job Interviews”

  1. Thank you so much for this article about selling oneself in an interview.  I love what I read that you put on good speeches.  I remember my public speaking classes in college and we learned all this.  One thing I might add, is that you should add a hook at the beginning of the speech to to try and get the person hooked into the speech, and to be careful how long you make the speech.

    • Thank you, Jessie, for that advice.  You’re right, a catchy hook at the beginning of your pitch is perfect and can also be a great ice breaker!


  2. Hello Mike, This is a great article that is full of useful advice about how to sell yourself at job interviews. It is so important for employers to understand what they will be getting if they employ you. I’ve used “elevator pitches” in other ways, but never as a self-promoting brand. It is inspired advice that would put any applicant at the front of the line. Thanks and best wishes, Jenni.

    • Thank you for your feedback and comments Jenni and for your validations of the need to practice an elevator speech as it can be used in many situations for both career and other professional matters.

      Thank you again!



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