How to Talk About Your Resume While on an Interview was originally published on Firsthand.
Job interviews can be pretty tough if you’re underprepared or don’t have a whole lot of experience. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of an interview is when you’re asked to “walk” the interviewer through your resume, as it’s often difficult to talk about ourselves. Today, we’re going to show you some strategies to help you get prepared and conduct a successful interview. Let’s begin.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before going on any interviews, take the time to practice talking about your resume. The best way to do this is to find a willing participant, typically a trusted friend or a family member, and have them run through some practice interviews with you. To do this effectively, have your practice partner come up with their own questions about your resume so that you can’t as easily anticipate what your answers should be.
Another great method for practicing is to incorporate information from real job listings into your mock interviews. By doing this, you’re learning how to connect your own experience to a position you’re applying for in a meaningful way. For example, your practice partner might ask you why you think you’re a good fit for “the company.” A real interviewer will undoubtedly ask you questions like this, so get as comfortable answering them as you possibly can.
…and more research. As you prepare for your interview, take a look at your resume as you research the company you’re applying to. What skills do you have that are relevant to the position? Given your experience, what about the company appeals to you the most? The more connections you can draw between your work experience and the job listing, the better off you’ll be.
If time permits and your practice partner is still available in the days leading up to your interview, try to get in some additional practice using the information you gathered from your research. This will help you to come off as relaxed and natural, and will demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re someone who does their homework.
Talking About Your Resume
Typically, educational background comes before work experience on a resume. So, when the interviewer asks you to walk them through your resume, this is where you should start. The best things to mention are courses and experiences that are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for. Let’s say for example that you’re interviewing for an entry-level position at a technology company. Here, you should absolutely mention your STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) internship.
There are a couple things to remember when it comes to talking about your education. If you’re a professional with many years of experience under your belt you can skip over your education entirely, unless there’s something of great value to mention. On the other hand, if you’re a recent graduate with limited work experience, your education can go a long way to demonstrating your value to a potential employer. Either way, do your best to keep it brief.
Next is your work experience. If you’ve been conducting practice interviews, then you’ve probably got your work history memorized in chronological order. Again, you want to be brief but informative. Here, mention any relevant or otherwise important accomplishments, along with skills and qualifications that are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for. It’s important to get used to talking about these things in such a way that you don’t come off as rehearsed or wooden, which is why we place such emphasis on practice.
This is also a good opportunity to share any stories that might relate to the position and company you’re applying to. For example, if the company you’re applying to prides itself on its collaborative work environment, you could talk about a time where you helped motivate your team to meet a deadline or surpass your boss’ expectations. Always remember, the best kinds of examples are ones that are quantifiable, so they should be your first priority.
To wrap things up, talk a bit about your professional goals. In certain cases, the interviewer will ask you something along the lines of “what would you like to achieve in the next five years?” By mentioning your career goals, you can head the interviewer off at the pass, which will show them that you’re motivated and excited about your career—this goes a long way during an interview.
Your trusty research should have given you some things to talk about when it comes to your career goals. For example, if the company you’re interviewing for is in the renewable energy industry, you could say that you’d like your work to contribute to positive changes in the environment, or that you’d like to develop more efficient and affordable energy sources. Goals that align with the company’s values will earn you bonus points, so keep that in mind.
Things to Avoid
Of course, there are a number of things you should watch out for when talking about your resume during an interview. It’s important to be brief; you don’t want to talk for more than two or three minutes about your resume. If you have gaps in your resume, don’t ignore them. It’s better to provide reasons for such gaps rather than to avoid them, as it might make you seem as though you’re hiding something. Lastly, omit any irrelevant experience and never speak negatively about past employers.
As with all things, you’ll improve at the art of interviewing over time, so don’t beat yourself up if you stutter or make any missteps—it’s all a learning process. Most importantly, do your best to be prepared regardless of your level of experience. Along with this, always smile and stay positive during a job interview. If you find that you’re having trouble or experiencing anxiety due to an upcoming interview, check out our advice here.