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Your 30 Second Commercial

First impressions are extremely important when it comes to the interview process. You’ve heard this time and time again—you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Unfortunately this is all too true. When you meet someone who may give you the name of an employer who they know to be hiring or when you’re sitting with a decision maker in an interview situation, it’s important to be aware and prepared to make an excellent first impression. One way to do this is to prepare a 30-second commercial that will state your purpose, reemphasize their need and suggest your apparent desire and ability to fill that particular need. This can be done by giving a brief description of something you’ve done that will be invaluable to them or a part of your education that is required for that specific position. Examples are an excellent idea. Just remember your job is to make them want to know more.

What is a commercial? A commercial is an ad or advertisement used to promote an item or in this case a person. Promotion is important. We need to understand and relate to the fact that we’re in the business of promoting ourselves in the interview process. In other words, the interview process is a sales process. Don’t be fooled into believing just because you’re qualified you will automatically get the best position out there available today for someone in your position. You will get the position you position yourself to get—the position you somehow, someway promote yourself for. Perhaps your friend or colleague will promote you. Maybe you will be promoted by a co-worker past or present. No matter what, you normally do not receive a job offer without some type of promotion. You then must understand the need to have your very own commercial—your 30 second commercial. If you are interviewing for a position as a mail clerk, you should have a 30 second commercial. If you are applying for a position of VP, you should have prepared your 30 second commercial. If someone out there is looking to hire someone to fill a position, they will buy from a commercial. The commercial will of course, be different—but somehow you will have to convince someone you have the unique abilities to do the job.

There are a lot of things that need to be said in a matter of seconds without rambling but not being too vague. The trick is crisp, descriptive language without being over-detailed. Cover the essentials; who you are, what you do, why are you there? State what kind of position you are pursuing. It will help if you give qualities about yourself that you can bring to the prospects’ companies. Highlight your professional strengths and abilities that could assist potential companies. Remember it’s not what you can do, but how you can help them.

Here are some sentence starters that you can use:

What then would you say in your 30 second commercial?

You may be saying “What could I possibly say in 30 seconds which would make or break me in an interview situation”.

We forget when we lose our jobs or when we find ourselves in the position to be seeking a new career that we need to focus on the employer’s need to know instead of our need to tell. If we could just remember this one fact and gear our responses toward that end, we would find the interview process much more exciting and rewarding.

Perhaps if you were applying for a position in sales you may say something like - “I am a polished professional with documented proof of success, a 4 year degree in marketing, a sincere desire to promote your products and the ability to close the deal with individuals at all levels if given the opportunity to do so. I am here today because I recognize your need and have the qualifications necessary to fill this position and make both of us benefit in the process.”

Maybe you are going to interview for the position of manager. In this case you may say something like—“As a successful manager I possess the ability to chose, lead, hire, fire, motivate and mentor groups of individuals. My teams have won numerous awards in the past due to my constant positive reinforcement & management style. I would love the opportunity to discuss my unique ability to help to make your sales team(s) one cohesive group who will work together to make your company grow continuously regardless of the economy or September 11.”

Once again, be certain whatever you say in your 30 second commercial is true of you and not just something that sounds great. Honesty is and always will be paramount in any interview situation. Do not be afraid to toot your own horn and let the hiring manager know what you have to bring to the table. After all, if you can’t tell them about how great you are, who can?

Your thirty second commercial can be used beyond social, organizational, networking events such as when the interviewer opens with “Tell me about yourself.” Since you have practiced this commercial frequently, it is a great way to start off that interview. Your commercial could also be used as the starting paragraph of your cover letter to emphasize your noteworthy skills and background. You can use your commercial at Job Fairs. Company recruiters don’t have much time due to long lines of candidates, make the most out of your limited time by utilizing your commercial. Starting with a commercial will make you come across as confident and poised.

The thirty second commercial is called that for a reason; it should be around thirty seconds. Be quick but get to your point. If your commercial is too long, you probably digressed and people stop listening. If it’s too short, you might not have given enough information to spark an interest. The reason for your commercial is to be remembered. You want these prospects to remember you before your competitors (other candidates). Be creative. Maybe wearing bunny ears is a little too much but you want to leave an impression. Just think, “can’t leave home without it.” Like a TV commercial, you want something to stick in prospects’ minds.

The thirty second commercial should not be some speech you wing, it doesn’t matter how witty you are. You are presenting (selling) yourself to potential employers and it should not be taken lightly. You must practice your commercial until it’s polished. You wouldn’t eliminate practice before a big tournament and expect to win so don’t expect to win over a new employer without knowing your commercial.

At networking events, the commercial is only part of the battle. After the commercial you are ready for the next step, prospects approaching you. During a two hour event, it is ideal to acquire twelve to twenty business cards. If it is over twenty, you didn’t talk long enough to each individual for them to remember but if it is under twelve, you were spending more time with the snacks than prospects. Try to talk to each prospect for four to six minutes.

Is your thirty second commercial ready for the test? Remember to state who your audience is, how you can help them, be creative, and leave an impression. Try and practice your commercial on a friend. Strong first impressions can make a difference in your career.

Stay organized, target your resume to the job, prepare a professional portfolio and prepare your 30 second commercial—be the person to complete with. If you have questions pertaining to this article, feel free to contact Donalyn is the author of “Keeping Track of Interviews”; “What You Need to Know About Job Searching”; “Pharmaceutical Sales Prep”, and “How to Write Your Professional Portfolio”. She is a reporter/feature writer for Infinity Broadcasting and has been training individuals on job search and job change along with motivation and mentoring them for years. If you need help, call for an appointment 724.446.7287.

- Donalyn Spisak

Research by Kristi Helfer (intern)

- Donalyn Spisak

Donalyn Spisak is a Motivational Speaker; Career Growth Counselor & Feature Writer/Reporter for Infinity Broadcasting; Author of \"Keeping Track of Interviews\"; \"How to Write Your Professional Portfolio\" geared toward professional positions--not nursing, teaching or graphic arts--real business; and \"What You Need to Know About Job Searching\". For additional information see websites located at and upcoming