Before you Interview Learn to Make a Winning Pitch Like Those Who Raise Billions
As a job-seeker, there’s a lot learn from people who raise money from venture capitalists and/or have invested in companies. I set out to learn how those who raise billions do it and what investors look for in a pitch.
What I learned is that the formula for a winning pitch is pretty simple. Winning pitches reveal the big need, show what the problem is and present a solution. In job-seeker language, you are telling a story that:
- Demonstrates you have researched the company and industry and understand the challenges
- Lets interviewers know you understand what is expected of you
- Proves your value—what sets you apart from other candidates
But there’s more.
Know what is important
Job-seekers get tangled up in details. Eager to get the job offer, they lose sight of what’s important to share and what is not when answering questions. You want interviewers to ask follow-up questions; to engage in a conversation with you. Too much detail all an interviewer can do is move on to the next question. You’ve missed an opportunity.
Using the behavioral interview formula—what was the problem I was asked to solve, what action did I take to solve the problem and what was the result—puts structure to your answers. Now edit to deliver only the important information in each of those sections.
It’s value not smarts
You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to get a job offer. No one likes the person who thinks and acts as if they are smarter than everyone. You do need to show your value. When you talk like the smartest person you’re bragging and boasting. When you demonstrate your value, you’re creating a connection between your experience—those things you have done—to the needs the employer has.
Edit and then edit again
You can avoid the common interview pitfalls by getting your answers down to :30-:45 seconds. Think of it this way. In the 1950s and 1960s, the average TV ad length was one minute—seems endless by today’s standards, TV ads are now :10-:15 seconds. You can share a lot of information in a :30 second response.
Seems obvious. But how do you get practice? The more people you talk with during your job search the better you get at telling your story, talking in :30-:45 second increments. Informational interviews, networking events, family gatherings, recounting something that happened to you the night before to a friend all can become practice situations for you.
When you get the interview, you’ll be skilled at sharing what is important and talking succinctly.
One final thought. When honest with yourself, interviews will tell you what you are good at and not so good at. Did you notice that you rambled on when you talked about yourself, or used too many filler words (e.g. hmms, I know, like,) or perhaps you fidgeted when you talk? All of this can be fixed when you are aware of them. After each interview evaluate your performance. If helpful, create an evaluation form and while the interview is still clear in your mind check off each item/jot down notes. Interviewing is a skill you can master.