Broadly speaking, an elevator pitch is a short introductory statement intended to spark interest in an idea, a business plan, or you and your background! For the college student or recent grad, the elevator pitch is most often used during an interview, but it’s also extremely helpful for career networking events, informational interviews, or anyplace else where you find yourself needing to provide someone with a brief overview of your experience and skills.
Interviews often kick off with the interviewer asking you to “tell us about yourself and your background.” This is an invitation to give your elevator pitch. Your goals is to give your interlocutor a quick and compelling introduction to who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you’re an appealing candidate. A well-honed and practiced elevator pitch can help you out tremendously. It will become your ‘go-to’ intro speech and the more you practice, the better you will get at it!
It’s important to recognize that you might not always get this explicit cue. If the interviewer doesn’t start out with this question, don’t be deterred. You can usually jump in at the beginning of the interview and ask: “Would it be helpful if I gave you a bit of information about my background?” This not only shows that you are confident in yourself but also sets the stage for you to give your elevator pitch.
Other times, an interview may start with preliminary questions such as: “why are you interested in this role?” This too can be taken as a cue to start your elevator pitch (or at least the relevant parts of it).
Your elevator pitch is also useful during informational interviews and networking conversations. It plays the critical function of providing a crisp and memorable picture of you to the person you’re speaking with. First impressions matter and the elevator pitch enables you to take control of shaping how you are perceived.
As you learned when creating your cover letters, resume, and LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch needs to be adjusted to your audience. Accordingly, you’ll want to think carefully about the specific skills and experiences you’ll want to foreground depending on the specific job, interview setting, or networking event.