How to nail the “Tell us about yourself” video

What would you say if you had 20 seconds to tell someone who you are and what you do? An “elevator pitch” is how the business world refers to a brief introduction, the kind that you would be able to do during an elevator ride. The goal is to make it short, of course, but also effective. What could you say that would make the listener interested in you and your product / company / or project? Van Hackers are required to record a “tell me about yourself video” when completing the profile on our platform. We talked to Maria Alfaro, CEO and founder of English for Canada, and she has terrific tips to help you create a great elevator pitch for your profile.

Some candidates dread recording the introduction video. We get it. The task can be hard especially if English is not your first language. We want to help you through it and tell you to think of the “tell me about yourself” presentation as a marketing tool for your talent. The video is the first thing our hiring partners will see about you, so you want to make a good first impression.


The basic structure of a great elevator pitch

The good news is that your elevator pitch doesn’t have to be so short. Our platform will give you more than 20 seconds to tell us about you. We want to hear you out and understand your experience and potential. Maria Alfaro has great advice on how to fill that time wisely. 

“I want you to introduce your profession. So, for me, it would be ‘Hi. I’m Maria. And I am a certified Canadian English teacher.”The next thing you want to say is what you do, how you help people. You help them achieve an outcome by doing an action. For example, I help hopeful immigrants to become Canadians by helping them pass their English proficiency exams.”

Then you may add what makes you unique. “In my case, I can say that my school is a certified Canadian School, meaning that all of our teachers are certified Canadian English teachers, and all of our lessons include 100% Canadian English”

The next step is to back up your claim by providing some numbers. “Mention some problems you have solved. This is where you can talk about the proof you have, maybe awards you have, or results or statistics you can mention. For example, I can say that since starting my school we have helped over 5,000 students”. 

And then you can wrap things up by talking about why you like what you do, so the basic structure of a great elevator pitch would look like this:

  • Introduce yourself: Hello, my name is…
  • Say what you do: I am a software engineer with 10 years of experience programming with Java.
  • Talk about how your work helps others: I have worked for 3 years developing software that helps companies save money with better management tools.
  • Use some numbers to drive the message home: The company I work for helped 100 clients in the past years.
  • Talk about why you love what you do: I like programming because it allows me to solve problems using my skills.


Before you start

In our platform, you will find the questions we would like you to answer in your “tell me about yourself” video. Before you start recording, we suggest you think about the information you want to include in your pitch. If you are anxious about talking in English, practice before hitting the record button. Still not sure? You can always go over your pitch with a friend or even in the shower or in front of a mirror. “That way when you’re in the moment, you don’t feel stuck, you don’t feel frozen, you’re ready to go and you have something to say right away”, Maria says.

So, let’s see how to craft a great elevator pitch step by step. 


First step: Say what you do and how

So, who am I? 

The first step is a bit obvious. Tell us your name and what you do. Maria offers her introduction as an example

“Hi, I’m Maria Alfaro. I’m a certified Canadian English teacher and I help hopeful immigrants become Canadian by helping them gain confidence with their English so that they can land their dream job.”


Second step: Say why you love what you do

“Why are you passionate? This is something I don’t think we talk about enough.” In addition to your experience, our hiring partners would also like to know why you are excited about the job and what kind of opportunities interest you. So the second step is to talk a bit about what makes you happy in your career. 

“I guarantee that when you start talking about why you love what you do that will show in your body language and whoever you’re talking to will notice”. 

Maria’s example:

“I’ve been teaching for over a decade and I absolutely love what I do because I help people from all over the world, finally, get over their test anxiety, so they can become Canadian.”


Third step: Talk about the numbers that showcase your accomplishments

Maria wants you to know it’s ok to talk about your skills and successes. “Do you have any statistics or results you could share? What if you’ve coached a team? What if you’ve taken your team to have profits? Or if your project has shown increased sales for an e-commerce company?”, she suggests. “Whatever it might be, show it off, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be shy. This is when you want to show off your skills and your unique selling points.”


Delivery: the right tone and attitude

You know what to say and you have practiced enough to record the video on our platform or deliver your pitch in a real-life conversation. Awesome! Let’s now talk about looking natural and relaxed when you tell people about yourself. You don’t want your pitch to sound too rehearsed and tense.

“You definitely don’t want to sound like a robot”, Maria says. Knowing what you want to say helps you not freeze when asked to speak, but you don’t need to repeat a memorized speech. Keep it professional, but don’t make it boring. “If you want to introduce yourself and impress somebody, you want to sound excited, passionate. Especially if you’re talking about your career and you want to make a good first impression.”

Body language is also important, even more so in remote interviews. “When you are watching a video on the internet, you find it more engaging when you’re watching somebody who’s moving more with their hands and showing more movement with their body. You don’t want to move like a clown in a job interview but showing your hands is good especially on a zoom call. Don’t keep them in your pockets”


Ready to tell us about yourself?

Completing your profile on our platform is crucial to your job search with us. Be sure to check all the resources we have available to help you perform your best on the video presentation and interviews. You can also see more of Maria Alfaro’s tips here:

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