What does is really mean when a candidate is asked to walk someone through their resume? Is it simply an ice-breaking conversation starter, or something more? My colleague at TMAC-Direct Michael Pietrack wrote the following Blog about how best to handle this request during an interview:
Walk Me Through Your Resume
There are a few interview questions that every interviewee knows is coming. Even though these questions are routinely asked, it doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. In fact some interviews fall apart at the very beginning, when the interviewer asks, “Walk me through your resume.”
Sometimes the “walk me through your resume” request is simply an icebreaker. This is especially true in phone interviews, where the interviewer might be asking as they are still getting settled. The interview can be lost if the interviewer was using this question as a icebreaker and the interviewee took the liberty to give a thorough run-down of their experience. Imagine asking someone as an icebreaker, “How have you been?”, and the person tells you details about every semi-significant event over the last year.
Commercial vs. Infomercial
Think about the differences when you compare a commercial to an infomercial. Both are informative and impactful on our decision making, but different in length and detail. When you get the “walk me through your resume” request, assume the interviewer wants a bite-sized yet informative commercial about your experience. I see interviews fall apart when candidates subject their audience to an infomercial when a commercial was expected.
Prepare for Efficiency
Since this particular question opens the way for a long-winded response, my advice is for candidates to have a prepared but not too scripted response ready so that the answer is succinct. I recommend that candidates stress top-line details like their educational background, years of functional experience, and specialty areas. For field-based candidates it would be good to also include something about territories they’ve covered or key centers where they have inroads. In case where the interviewer actually wants an infomercial, I’d recommend the interviewee to close their commercial with, “Was that enough information?” or “Would you like me to go into more depth?”.
I hope this is helpful information as you prepare for your next interview. Remember that “walk me through your resume” is often an icebreaker, so prepare an efficient yet informative commercial about your experience. If you do this successfully, it’s likely your next interview will start off smoothly.
About the Author: Michael Pietrack is a leading executive recruiter in a the Pharmaceutical Industry and arguably the top recruiter in the Medical Affairs space. His specific expertise is recruiting in Field Medical Affairs placing Medical Science Liaisons, and therefore, he has been dubbed “The MSL Recruiter” ().