Non-Academic Interview Questions Series: The “Walk Me Through Your Resume” Question
This the second post in a series of blog posts dealing with some of the most popular non-academic interview questions and the answers that will get you hired. In this post, we will address the infamous “walk me through your resume” question.
This question is one of the most popular non-academic interview questions you’ll get to hear in the beginning stages of the conversation. Mainly, because it is an easy way for the interviewer to dive into your background and assess your ability to summarize your accomplishments succinctly while gaining insight into the motivations behind some of your career decisions. Because the interviewer has had the chance to look at your resume, the question is less meant for you to engage into a play-by-play of everything you’ve ever done than to reveal the thought process behind some of the choices you have made in the past.
How to prepare:
The best way to prepare for this question is to apply what you have already learned in graduate school when it comes to talking about your research. Apply the rules of the dissertation pitch to your resume. Your answer to this question should be 2–3 minutes long. Once you have chosen which elements you would like to highlight, it is important to practice your answers several times to make sure you do not ramble on and stay within the appropriate time-frame. The main goal is not to get lost into details, but to briefly discuss what you’ve accomplished and to talk about the big “why” behind all of it. The logical starting point is to talk about your degree. Your goal is not to talk about the content of your studies (i.e. getting knee-deep into your research topic), but to talk about what you have done in graduate school. Focus on actions. Have you taught any classes? In one-two sentences, how would you discuss your time in that role? What were your responsibilities? And most importantly, what is the motivation factor to move from your previous role to the next one? How has the work you have done in graduate school prepared you for the next role you want to take? Remember: the goal is not to say everything about you, but to pique the interviewer’s interest and get him to want to know more about your goals and motivations. Highlight certain elements of your resume, and move on.
Another variation of this question is the “Tell me about yourself” question. If you interviewer takes this slightly different route to learn more about you, add some personal details to the summary of your professional achievements. Things you could talk about: your upbringing, why you chose to study this particular subject or chose to attend this specific school, relevant interests and extracurricular activities, etc. By using this particular variation of the question, the interviewer is prompting you to show-off your EQ rather than relying mainly on your high IQ. So, go ahead! Make it all about you! And don’t hesitate to show your interviewer what you’re made of!
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