Walk Me Through Your Resume

"Walk me through your resume" is a request often made by potential employers at the start of an interview.

How you handle this opportunity to provide more information and highlight your suitability can have a make or break impact on the impression you make in your job interview.

Walk me through your resume - what the employer wants

  • the employer wants to learn more about you and to bring to life the information on your resume page
  • they are assessing whether you are able to communicate effectively and  provide a comprehensive and cohesive response
  • they are evaluating your ability to focus on the essential information that pertains directly to the job opportunity and not ramble on about irrelevant details
  • they want an answer to the question "Are you the right person for this job?"
  • they want clarification on any areas that may be of concern to a potential employer

Walk me through your resume - what to focus on

Having a good understanding of the job opportunity and the company will enable you to focus on and expand on the pertinent and relevant information in your resume.

  • Refer to your education, highlighting why you chose your college, qualification and major and how they have prepared you for the job. Unless you are interviewing for an entry level position this part of your resume discussion should be brief.
  • Internships and extra curricular activities during your years of study are only relevant if they impact directly on your suitability for the job. For entry level candidates these aspects will form a major part of your response.
  • Unless you are applying for an entry level job you can move quickly on to your work experience. If you have a lengthy job history focus on the most recent positions you have held. Highlight those previous duties and responsibilities that will help you succeed in this role.
  • Refer to those key accomplishments that relate to the job opportunity
  • Wrap up with why this new position is the right next step for you

It is quite acceptable when you are asked "Walk me through your resume", to clarify what the interviewer wants  with questions such as:

  • "How far back would you like me to go?'
  • "Is there any area in particular you would like me to focus on?"
  • "Should I start with my education and its relevance to this role or would you prefer to go straight to my work experience?"
  • Would you prefer me to cherry pick those areas of my resume that I think demonstrate my suitability for this job and expand on those?

"Walk me through your resume" is NOT a retelling of your resume, it is rather an answer to "Why are you the right person for this job?"

The interviewer will have a copy of your resume to refer to, so avoid just repeating the bald facts and listing your duties.  For example :

You want to focus on key career accomplishments, what you have learned and those essential skills you have developed that apply directly to the job opportunity.

Take this opportunity to make a positive and favorable impression by clearly articulating your successes and workplace strengths.

How much information should I provide?

This will depend on a number of things:

  • the level and complexity of the job you are interviewing for
  • the length and complexity of your work experience

It is important not to bombard the interviewer with too much information and all details  should be relevant and pertinent to the job opportunity. However, this is an opportunity to highlight your suitability and strengths and so you need to provide sufficient information to do this. 

A superficial response is as damaging as an unfocused and irrelevant one. Good preparation will ensure you strike the right balance.

  • know your resume backwards and ensure your copy is the same as that sent to the employer
  • have a clear understanding of the job
  • be familiar with the work environment
  • find out all you can about the company

The interviewer should ask follow up questions if he or she feels they need more information, so do not be concerned that you are not covering everything. Rather keep it tightly focused than try to include every detail and bore the interviewer.

Good approaches to "Walk me through your resume"

1. Focus on how you have developed the key skills for the job

Identify and focus on the most essential skills - this is an excellent way to provide a cohesive and compelling response. Identify the critical skills for the job and discuss how you have developed these skills through your education and your work experience.

2. Plan the areas of your experience you will focus on

Plan which areas of your resume you will focus on.  Analyze the critical requirements of the job. Go through your resume and highlight the areas of your education and experience that meet these requirements and focus on those. 

At the end of your discussion the interviewer should have a clear understanding of 3 to 5 key areas and achievements in your background that will enable you to perform successfully in the job.

3. Highlight the similarities between previous jobs and this role

Highlight the similarities between the responsibilities, the skills used and developed, the  company culture at your previous jobs and the role you are interviewing for.  For example:

"At JP Bond our team was constantly under pressure to meet tight deadlines, I  enjoyed the challenge of such a demanding work environment ."

How to handle "Walk me through your resume" for entry level jobs or a career change

A particularly valuable tip for entry level jobs or career changes is to plan by selecting key experiences from your resume (for example your choice of college, your major, an internship, a job you took) and answer these four questions:

  • Why did I chose to do this?
  • What skills and knowledge did it allow me to learn and develop?
  • How did it lead me to applying for this job?
  • How has it equipped me to perform in this specific role?

Use the opportunity to positively frame your job changes

This part of the job interview also provides a good opportunity to explain job changes and movement as it relates to your career.

For example:

How to handle tricky areas in your resume

Don't be tempted to skip over aspects where the employer probably wants clarification, like gaps in employment or a retrenchment. Plan a concise and authentic explanation to provide in your interview. Find out how to handle these difficult areas at:

DIFFICULT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Answer interview questions about lay offs

DIFFICULT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Answer interview questions about dismissals

DIFFICULT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Interview answers about employment gaps

How to answer "Tell me something not on your resume"

This is a tough question and candidates should prepare good responses before their interview. Find out more at Example Interview Answers

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