Once the initial social niceties and introductions are over, many job interviews start with a pretty general opening question. One of the most common such question is that old chestnut – “ So then…talk me through your CV…”
It should be a relatively easy question to answer – after all, you will have hopefully spent quite a bit of time in ensuring that you crafted the perfect CV, so speaking about it should be a doddle.
Here are some basic tips that should help you should you be asked just that.
Tell your story
Firstly, although you should know your CV inside and out, when it comes to this question, an interviewer does not want you to simply repeat verbatim what you have written on that 2 page document. They instead want you to tell them in narrative form what you’re about. This question in essence is an opportunity for you to let some of your personality shine through. It’s not about a robotic chronological summary of what you’ve been doing to date but rather an overview of your career, your choices, the path you’ve taken and the reasons why.
Whilst an interviewer would not expect you to go into detail about every subject you’ve ever studied and every exam you’ve ever sat, they would expect you to go through the basics of the most important stuff. Give them a brief summary of why you followed a certain course of study – and what you gained from it. Outline why you did a particular degree or diploma and how that led to the next step that you took. Don’t make the mistake of simply ignoring your education and speaking only about your life post school, college or uni. Those earlier years matter too after all!
Discuss your employment path to date
Your work history to date is of course what would interest a prospective employer most although again that does not mean that they need to or indeed would wish to know about every job you have ever undertaken. When discussing your career to date, you may do it in chronological order ending with your current or most recent job or indeed starting there and working your way backwards. Do what works for you. What the employer will want to know is an outline of the roles you have had, the types of company, the responsibilities that you had and how you contributed to or added value to previous employers. Also, do outline why you moved between jobs. Summarise your rationale for changing roles – whether it was as a result of career progression or a career change. The key thing is to ensure that you convey how your career has developed and how you have ended up where you are presently.
Lead on to the job applied for
If you have explained your career journey well enough, you should aim to lead on to the role you are being interviewed for today or at the very least the organisation or market sector. Ensure that you convey to the employer that you have a genuine interest in this sector or this type of role and how this has been as a result of your experience to date. If you answer this in the right way, it could lead on to other typical interview questions such as why you have applied to this company in particular. Remember – you have more control than you may realise in terms of directing how an interview proceeds.
Give the complete picture
Since this question is often asked in order to help the interviewer form an overall impression of you as a candidate, it’s important that you answer it by giving them a more rounded view. They won’t only want to know about your employment and career to date. Use the opportunity to mention any outside interests or hobbies that you have a passion for – whether it’s running marathons or making crafts – it all helps build a clearer picture of the real you.
We hope that by highlighting these basic tips you will find it a little easier next time you are faced with that whole ‘Talk me through your CV’ scenario.
We’ve lots of other basic tips on interview questions too so why not check them out!