Creating a Killer First Impression in an Interview: Why The “Walk Me Through Your Resume” Response Matters
As a former MBA Recruiter and experienced career coach who has helped hundreds of candidates prepare for interviews, I know “Walk me through your resume” or its sister question, “Tell me about yourself” is one of the most critical questions to prepare for in an interview. Yet most candidates, even ones with great work experience, are delivering underwhelming answers.
Why is that?
Because most candidates are plagued by one or more of these common pitfalls:
- Prioritizing making the answer as concise as possible and therefore revealing nothing memorable
- Sharing every school and job experience vs. delivering a clear value proposition of what key strengths you bring as a candidate
- Focusing only on the facts of what they’ve done in the past vs. insights about how their choices/experiences have made them realize why they want this job. This is especially critical if you’re a career switcher or going to work at a startup for the first time
- Missing the opportunity to proactively tell the employer why they want to work at this company/start-up vs. waiting for the interviewer to ask
What are employers really trying to learn about you with this opening question?
From reading your resume they can already see where you went to school, what companies you’ve worked for, and what job titles you’ve held, so don’t waste precious time telling them facts they can read for themselves. So, what should your content focus on? Three critical things that convince them you are a compelling candidate for the role:
- Your value proposition – i.e., what are the top 3 strengths/passions/personality traits that make you a standout candidate to work at a startup? Focus on relevant functional work, work contexts and personality traits that show why you’d thrive in a start-up environment
- Why you believe you’re a great fit for the role and why you are excited to be in the role – demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful in the role by connecting your value proposition to why you want the job
- Why you want to work at THIS organization in particular – explain your personal connection to the mission, culture, people, and/or products/services of the start-up in order to reassure them that there’s a good chance you’ll accept the offer if you receive it. Remember that startups aren’t running massive recruiting programs. They’ve got limited time and resources to recruit you, and they want candidates who believe in the company and are excited to be a part of its origin story
Next, you want to frame your response with a clear structure that is built around your value proposition (#1 above). This means framing your response with language like:
- “As I look back on my career, the 3 things that have really shaped my career success to date are…”
- “As I look back on my career choices, the 3 things that have defined my most rewarding roles are….
- “Reflecting on my proudest accomplishments throughout my career, the 3 things that they all have in common are…”
This type of framing immediately focuses the interviewer on the 3 key elements that make you a standout candidate and makes it easy to segue into why you are interested in the type of role you’re interviewing for as well as why you want to do that role in their start-up in particular.
By creating a strong narrative in your first response in the interview, you will achieve two important objectives:
- Excite the interviewer about your candidacy right out of the gate (which primes them to want to see you succeed in the rest of the interview)
- Make it easy for the interviewer to see reinforcing evidence of your value proposition throughout your interview. This makes it easier for them to remember you and what makes you a standout candidate
Remember your interviewer is the one who has to advocate for you in the debrief discussion with the other interviewers and the hiring manager, so make it as easy as possible for them to do so by delivering a killer Walk Me Through Your Resume response!
About The Author:
Michelle Antonio, Professional Career Coach
Michelle Antonio is a professional career coach with 20+ years of experience in recruiting, consulting and MBA career management leadership roles. As a former consultant at Bain & Company, and MBA Recruiting Director at Deloitte Consulting, and Career Advisor and the Director of MBA Career Management at The Wharton School, Michelle is passionate about sharing her expertise in best practices in the job search process. She works with private clients and collaborates with a number of MBA programs including Harvard Business School, The Wharton School and the University of Tennessee to deliver 1 on 1 coaching services and career development programs to their MBA students and alumni. More on Michelle here.