When interviewers ask you to talk them through your CV, they’re looking to quickly learn about your work history as well as your ability to communicate your individual story as it relates to the job you’re interviewing for. Your CV should be chock full of stand-out accomplishments and impressive skills, but how you talk about those things in an interview reveals a lot about you. In essence, this question brings your CV and your professional journey to life by giving you the chance to summarise all the experiences, skills and qualifications you have that make you the perfect candidate for this role. Undoubtedly, though, it can seem like a rather daunting question, especially as it typically comes early on in the interview when you’re still getting into your stride. But with a bit of preparation and forethought, it could be the answer that secures you the role. Here’s how we think you could best attack the question.
1. Tackle the question chronologically
Start with your educational background. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail here unless you’re a recent graduate; you could simply cover any relevant coursework or experience from college or university (if it feels appropriate) and segue into how that led you to your professional career path. If you’ve been in the workplace for over a decade, you could skip the summary of your education altogether unless it’s particularly relevant. Then you’ll want to explain your professional history. This is the meat and potatoes of your answer. Quickly describe how you entered the field or role, then talk chronologically through your career, focusing on the more exciting stuff: mention impressive accomplishments, key qualifications and skills, and relevant projects you’ve worked on. But don’t just stop when you reach the end of your CV – finish with your career goals. Interviewers are equally interested in what your future holds and hiring managers want to make sure that the job you’re applying for fits into your broader ambitions because then you’re more likely to be invested in the position. Emphasize how you’re excited to learn new things and develop professionally as you wrap up your response.
2. Be succinct and concise
Communicating your showreel succinctly is part of the skill in answering this question. When you trim your response down to the essentials (your qualifications, accomplishments, strengths and career goals), you’ll impress your interviewer not only with your professional know-how, but also with your communication and presentation skills. You want to make sure your answer is concise, giving your interviewer the foundation they need to continue the conversation without taking up too much of your allotted time. They have the details on your CV, they’re interested in the highlights and specific examples that show you’ve done your homework on the role you’re applying for. We’d suggest avoid spending longer than five minutes answering this question.
3. Tailor your answer to the role and company
The question can really be interpreted as ‘Why should I hire you?’. It’s not requesting a literal retelling of your CV so it’s important that you answer the implicit question of why you’re the right person for this job. Before any interview, take some time to carefully read the job description. Ask yourself which of the experiences and skills that you bring to the table are most important for this position and this company, but also think about how you can emphasize your enthusiasm and excitement for the company or role during your CV walkthrough. For example, if you’re interviewing for a front-end software engineering role for a fintech company that makes budgeting software, you should definitely highlight any programming work you’ve done using the same coding methods or project management frameworks this team uses. You also want to show you fit the culture of the workplace – this not only shows you’ve done your research on them, but also that you can practically demonstrate how their ethos and culture are attractive and applicable to you based on your professional experience to date.
4. Practice your answer!
Practicing your answers will help you feel more comfortable talking about yourself. Not all of us are naturally gifted when speaking at length about our career accomplishments. As you practice, you will start to sound – and feel – more comfortable. This is one of the few times in life when you’re expected to brag, and practicing your answers ahead of time can make it feel less awkward. Practicing out loud also helps you decide which words to use. If you’re going back-and-forth about how to describe something, practice it by saying the words out loud. After hearing the words spoken, rather than reading them on a notepad or a screen, you might decide to go in a different direction. Using words that are a natural part of your everyday language will help you sound more confident and authentic.
How can we help?
If you’re looking for your next office role in Surrey or the surrounding areas, Amber is here to help. You can give us a call on 01932 355000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your next career move.