How to Fine-Tune Your Pitch

Staying one step ahead of the competition during a job interview is tough, and stressful. That’s why HEC Paris recently asked alumnus Jacques Birol (H ’74) to come to campus and share his top tips for selling yourself to potential employers. A “master pitcher” himself, Jacques was able to bounce back from a failed venture in Polynesia and, with 2 other cofounders, convince banks to invest €2.5 million in their startup. When Keljob went public, the employment website was valued at €90 million.

Jacques’ current company, Less & More, offers workshops for business owners and managers. Patrice Begay, Executive Director of BPIFrance, regularly introduces Jacques as “probably the best coach of entrepreneurs in France.”

Below are a few tips taken from Jacques’ trademarked presentation, “How to Pitch Yourself as a Champion,” shared during the 2018 HEC Paris Alumni Forum:

  1. Be energetic. Approach a job interview as a competition; everyone else who is applying for this role are your competitors. They will all be focused on getting the job and will bring their own energy. Make sure you bring yours.
  1. HEC Paris MBA

    Jacques Birol during the Alumni Forum

    Enjoy the interview process. The whole hiring process is a game, so make sure you enjoy playing it. Having a smile on your face during an interview will go a long way. It will also rub off on everyone else in the room.

  1. Avoid negative words. The audience will take particular notice of anything negative you say. For example, instead of “having a problem,” say you “overcame a challenge.”
  1. Do not be excessive. Be careful not to talk too much, limit your words and be direct in what you say. Do not overpitch your role. If you are applying for a job, state the skills you have that are relevant for said job, not for the job that is the next level up. Know your role and target it.
  1. Repeat key words. If you are trying to make a key point during your pitch, repeat some of the more important words and they will imprint themselves in the minds of your audience.
  1. What makes you interesting from an outsider’s perspective? Why are you different from all the other people who have also applied for this job? Talk to your friends and family. Ask them what they like about you, what they find unusual, unexpected about yourself. Use these points in your interview and be proud of them.
  1. Where have you been successful? It’s all well and good claiming past successes. Make sure you have hard evidence of your achievements. This will verify your competences and impress your target audience.