Walk me through your CV: How to answer well

You sit down at an interview, your mind is running through everything you’ve prepared – competency examples, technical knowledge, etc.

The interviewer starts with: “Can you walk me through your CV?”

Are you thoroughly prepared for this? Hopefully you are, as this is one of the most important sections of the interview. Here’s how you should handle it.

1. Importance of the CV walkthrough

The CV walkthrough - or talk me through your CV - is often the first real impression you make and we all know how impactful first impressions are. It’s also the only time in the interview when you have complete control.

During preparation, this section is often neglected as candidates believe they can do it ‘off the cuff’. However, this often results in a flustered, disorganised performance where parts are missed!

A confident CV walkthrough speaks volumes and sets you up for the rest of the interview. Not only will it calm your nerves, but will also grab the attention of the interviewer.

2. How to tackle

Think of your CV walkthrough as a performance. It should be a five-minute ‘speech’ about you.

Keeping it recent and relevant should allow you plenty of time to cover everything. Don’t dwell on the distant past or experience that isn’t relevant. Focus on highlighting the experience and knowledge which will score you points in the interview.

a. Ordering

Construct the walkthrough in chronological order: start with education, then employment history where you highlight only your most recent and relevant roles. Then also add any additional qualifications/certificates you have acquired.

A good outline for detailed positions:

  1. 1. What drew you to the job in the first place 
  2. 2. Your daily tasks and responsibilities 
  3. 3. Reason(s) you left 

Also, don’t forget to mention what you enjoyed about the role – this adds a bit of personality, making you a more memorable candidate. It will also indicate what will motivate you in your next position.

b. Keeping relevant to job

Pick out your technical skills which are relevant. You will find these lie within the role description you’re applying for.

Which essential and/or desired skills do you already have? Link these with the ones on your CV and spend a little more time emphasising them.

When detailing previous positions, keep in mind you should only spend around five minutes on the CV walkthrough. Concentrate on your current role, along with the previous one or two positions.

To avoid repetition, focus on the technical skills here and leave the soft skills for the competency section of the interview.

And don’t forget to mention the most important skills required. For example, Excel is almost always a requirement in the finance industry. Although it’s a common skill to have, it is often overlooked by candidates.

Additional technical skills and experience will also add a bit of colour to the walkthrough. Some good examples would be: regulatory knowledge (IFRS, US GAAP, MifID II, etc.), fund product knowledge, and migration project experience.

c. Summarising

Providing a summary and bringing the CV walkthrough back to present day will conclude this section and show the interviewer how prepared you are.

A good summary will remind them of how qualified you are and emphasise your interest in the role. It should, essentially, state your reason as to why you are interviewing with them.

3. Practice makes perfect

Simply taking note of your key points won’t suffice. You should practice the walkthrough with the key points as a guide, but don’t memorise a script. This will only increase the risk of making mistakes and sounding unnatural.

The best way is to practice out loud to someone – friends, family, or even to the wall! Keep going until it rolls off your tongue.

Time yourself during the practice rounds (or get the listener to) so the walkthrough is about five minutes. Any longer and your audience will lose interest. Any shorter and you’re not selling yourself enough.

And lastly, don’t panic, this is all about you – and ‘you’ is your topic of expertise.

Following these tips will ensure a confident and polished performance and articulate why you are right for the job.


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