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How to Create an Elevator Pitch for Your Next Job Interview

Bonny Calfy | March 24, 2023

If you had to convince someone you had just met of the quality of your professional credentials, what would you say? Could you do it in less than 30 seconds?

It’s not impossible — it’s an elevator pitch!

The idea of an elevator pitch is simple.

It’s a 20- to 30-second speech that sells the listener on anything from a new project to a business opportunity — even yourself! For this post, we’ll discuss promoting something we can all relate to: our own professional development.

Maybe you’re looking to get your foot in the door at an organization with a vibrant culture and great perks, or maybe you want to develop your career or move into leadership. Eventually, you’ll need to make your case, and a well-honed 30-second elevator pitch for a job interview may be the key to unlocking that door.

Let’s start by looking at an elevator pitch example that’s less than successful. Imagine you’re conducting an interview. You ask a candidate to tell you about themselves and they launch into this:

“I’ve been revamping our TPS reports, and we’ve got a 27% reduction in AVP, and that’s with only 8.5% MBVs after the Class 3 verification. That’s almost double! I’ve also been helping Dave, the VP of engineering, with their reports, and he thinks I could really help you out preparing for Q3. I’m Susan, by the way. I work on the second floor.”

Ouch. What just happened?

This pitch has some issues, including:

  • Susan doesn’t introduce herself until the end, leaving out valuable context.
  • The infodump of stats is likely to confuse her audience if they aren’t a subject matter expert.
  • Susan is obviously good at something, but it’s hard to tell what that might be.
  • The benefit to the organization is unclear, which makes it hard to judge the usefulness of Susan’s efforts.
  • Nobody likes name-dropping, Susan.

Let’s send Susan back down to the lobby to start this ride over. This time, we’ll give her a few simple guidelines for crafting an effective job interview elevator pitch that makes the most of the 30-second timeframe.

Establish your identity

“I’m Susan. I’m a lead data analyst in the product development department.” That’s a solid opening. We meet Susan and we learn what she does. It also flows smoothly into the next line of her pitch.

Introduce the solution

“By implementing Procedure X, I’ve helped our team cut the time spent on documentation in half, and that’s freed us up to focus on modernizing some of our most basic processes.”

Now we have an idea of how Susan has succeeded in her work and benefited the company. But there may be other people just as competent as Susan, so now she needs to set herself apart.

Differentiate yourself

“We’ve experimented with applying the same process in the engineering department, and they’re on track to see similar results.”

Susan stands out by not only stating her success, but also demonstrating her unique efforts are broadly applicable across departments. And because her audience is part of the company, they likely know vice president Dave in engineering, so there’s no need for name-dropping.

Now that you know how to build a great elevator pitch, here are a few tips for refining your pitch and your presentation.

Keep it short

This is the cardinal rule, so keep it under 30 seconds.

Be confident

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so we recommend the “show, don’t tell” rule. Let your achievements speak for themselves, and don’t stretch the truth. Did you increase sales by 10%? Great! That stat speaks for itself. But if that becomes, “I was single-handedly responsible for our 10% sales increase,” you risk making your ego the star of the show.

Be general

Save the granular details for later. For now, provide a clear, high-level view of your skills and successes. If your pitch is successful, you’ll have time to discuss the nuts and bolts of your work later.

Don’t forget to practice

Having a well-crafted pitch is just the beginning. Practice your delivery so you can speak clearly and with conviction. This level of confidence will help you relax, making it easier to speak with a natural, comfortable cadence.

When you’ve mastered your personal elevator pitch, you can create simple, effective pitches for almost anything! You can present a new initiative to leadership, pitch a new process to your boss or get your co-workers on board with a new project.

Are you looking for an organization where you can give your career a lift? Apply to Paycom today.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.