You’re all excited for your interview and then you get the dreaded question. “Walk me through your resume,” the interviewer says. “Walk through it yourself!” you think. “Can’t you read?” We kid—of course, you can only think this. (Please, only think it!)
It may seem like a ridiculous question, but think of it instead as an opportunity. You have a captive audience here to really fill in any holes or gaps on your resume and talk your interviewer through the bullet points while fleshing them out with the details they deserve! Take care, however, that you don’t let your own overconfidence trip you up. Be prepared to give a succinct, non-rambling answer. Also be prepared to have a smooth way of glossing over positions you put on for necessary padding in the hopes that the recruiter wouldn’t read those sections too carefully.
Here are a few good tips for preparing to answer this common question.
1. Be brief and articulate.
Concision is your friend. Don’t just wing this answer—practice it with all your other interview prep answers. Remember, you’re probably also being evaluated here on your communication skills. Cut out the “um”s and set your resume in the context/tone you want without droning on too long about yourself. And whatever you do, don’t let yourself get bogged down with irrelevant extra details that have nothing to do with why your past will make you an ideal candidate for the job you want.
2. Keep your eye on the prize.
Your job in this answer is to put everything in your resume in the context of the job you’re applying for. Stick to the script! When you’re talking about your background, mine it for little gems that will show just how perfect your history makes you for this position. Explain your career so far in such a way that your interviewer will see how it perfect it makes you for the open job.
3. Explain yourself.
Some questions undoubtedly come up with any resume, no matter how bulletproof. Try to anticipate any questions or concerns your interviewer might have and have answers prepared. Explain your motivations and what went into the various decisions you've made along the way. Try to frame every negative or challenge into a positive. Show yourself to be scrappy and problem-solving when you go over any gaps and potential red flags, as well.
4. Anticipate what they want to hear.
As much as you want to practice a perfect answer, make sure to also think on the fly. Try to suss out what your interviewer is actually after and incorporate that into your answer. Tailor or fix what you’re about to say what you know they’re after.
5. Stay classy.
Paint yourself as the best person for the job, but don’t just shine yourself in best, brightest light and trash everyone else. Stay honest. Don’t throw anyone under any buses. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions, and don’t exaggerate your successes while sweeping all weaknesses under the rug (even though you shouldn’t dwell too long on those)—you just won't seem believable.
6. Think big.
When in doubt, frame your answer to be about how this job is the perfect next step on your career path and how everything in the past has led up to this position. Don’t forget to show the big picture and highlight your passion and enthusiasm for the position, in addition to your expertise. Back everything you say up with actual bullet points on your resume. Stick to the script, show off without being too braggy, and the job should be yours!
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