“Walk me through your resume.” Does that count as an interview question? This statement can seem odd, because the hiring manager has probably already read your resume. Answering this can feel like you’re supposed to read them your resume to them, or list off every job you’ve had. Don’t be fooled! This standard icebreaker question isn’t what it seems.
What They Are Asking For
If you’re not sure what they’re looking for, you can respond with “Sure, how far back would you like me to go?” Most likely they’re looking for what you think is relevant to the position you applied for, and not every job you’ve ever had. In this instance, less is more. If they have questions about your past positions that you skipped over, they can ask. It’s better to give more detail when asked than to overwhelm the hiring manager with too much information at once.
Why They Say “Walk Me Through Your Resume”
They’re right in front of you, holding your resume. Obviously someone has read it, because you’re in the interview. So why do they ask “walk me through your resume”? They are trying to figure out if you’re a good fit for the company culture and the position. They are also looking to see if you can give a comprehensive response while staying focused. This interview question can often lead to people talking about all of their jobs, which is what you want to avoid unless you have had less than three jobs.
How Long Should a “Walk Me Through Your Resume” Answer Be?
Your answer needs to be under 2 minutes so you don’t lose your audience. Don’t take this question literally and rehash your entire resume, but just touch on why you’re a good candidate. Please don’t read your resume or talk about every single job you’ve had. Instead, just mention the ones that are relevant to this position. If the hiring manager wants to know more, let them ask.
Emphasize What You Bring To The Table
This question of “walk me through your resume” is really “why should I hire you”. How does your previous experience make you a good candidate for this job? You need to highlight the skills that you have, whether they’re learned skills from college or an internship, or hard-won skills by years of hard work. If you were tapped for an important project or brought from one team to another, it’s important that you emphasize that. Like this ex-Google employee, you need to show how what you’ve learned in the past has shown you different strengths that you have now.
Give An Authentic Answer
The important part of this question is that you give an authentic answer. It’s easiest to start with a line about where you came from/graduated (if relevant), briefly mention any skills you picked up at your relevant work history, and how they relate to this new position. If your job history is long, you can just go back over your past two positions. When these are relevant to the position you’re applying to, be sure to mention the skills and experience that you can bring to this new job. When changing careers and your past two jobs aren’t obviously related, explain your decision for this new career and explain how soft skills or technical skills from your past positions are related to this new one.
“Walk Me Through Your Resume” vs. “Tell Me About Yourself”
These two questions do get mixed up, and usually an interviewer will use one or the other, but we thought a clarification was necessary. “Tell me about yourself” is much more about why you want this job, whether it’s a great company to work for, or you really love the work, or you can’t wait to learn the new skills, etc. “Walk me through your resume” can have some overlap, but is much more about what you already bring to the position. It is extremely rare that you would get both of these questions in the same interview.
One of the easiest ways to answer it to discuss your:
- Previous or current job experience (or internship or volunteering, if you don’t have work experience)
- What you did there (3-4 job duties)
- Transferable skills to this new position
- List relevant awards or successes you achieved
This will keep you focused and keep your answer succinct. Your hiring manager will be relieved not to relive your life story or to have to pull information out of you.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
It’s easy to misunderstand what the hiring manager is asking you for, but remember that they have already read your resume. They think you’re qualified enough for an interview, which is an excellent sign.
That being said, don’t bombard your interviewer with too much information. This will make your answer come across as unfocused and unprepared. The interviewer will try to figure out why you’re giving them extra details and how you think they’re relevant to the position.
Worried about other interview questions? Read more: