How to Walk an Interviewer Through Your Resume

The first questions of a job interview can often be the hardest to answer. Though they may seem straightforward, questions like “Can you walk me through your resume?” can trip up even the most experienced interviewees.

How you answer your first questions sets the tone for the rest of your interview, making them some of the most important ones to nail down. 

Luckily, discussing your work experience can become second nature with a little practice. Here’s what you need to know about walking an interviewer through your resume and making your experience shine.

Why interviewers ask this

Candidates often wonder why interviewers ask this question. You’d be correct in your assumption that if you’ve made it that far, the team has already looked at your resume and understands your background.

In addition to simply being an icebreaker that gets the candidate warmed up for more in-depth questions, having a candidate walk interviewers through their resume serves several other purposes.

  • Assessment of communication skills: How well you communicate your professional journey and experiences gives the interviewer insights into your communication skills. 
  • Verification and clarification: While the interviewer has likely reviewed your resume beforehand, they may want you to elaborate on certain points or clarify any discrepancies. 
  • Understanding priorities: By walking through your resume, the interviewer can discern which experiences and achievements you prioritize or emphasize. This gives them a sense of what you consider significant in your career and what you believe aligns with the position you’re applying for.
  • Cultural fit assessment: Your narrative about your past experiences can also provide clues about how well you might fit into the company culture. If your experiences align with the company’s values or demonstrate an understanding of their industry, it is a positive indicator of cultural fit.

In short, asking candidates to walk through their resumes helps interviewers better evaluate candidates’ qualifications and fit for the role.

How to Walk an Interviewer Through a Resume

How to walk an interviewer through your resume

Walking an interviewer through your resume is an opportunity to highlight your skills, experiences, and accomplishments.

Here are some tips to make a good impression:

1. Be prepared.

If you’re reading this article, you’re on the right track! Having a general idea of how you would answer this question is key to success. Don’t be afraid to practice the elevator pitch of your experience with a friend or family member before your interview.

Before you go in, review your resume for a final time. Ensure you know the details of each position, project, or achievement you’ve listed.

2. Structure your narrative.

Decide ahead of time how you are going to structure your response. There’s no one right way here, so choose the path that best encapsulates your experience and skill. 

For example, you can briefly introduce yourself, including your background, education, and overarching career goals. Then, move chronologically through your work experience— starting with the oldest position on your resume— highlighting key roles, responsibilities, and achievements.

3. Focus on relevance.

This is where a little research on the company ahead of time can come in handy.

Tailor your discussion to emphasize the experiences and skills most relevant to the position you’re applying for. Align your skills with the job requirements and the company’s needs.

Say, for instance, you’re interviewing for a role in marketing. Your last position was also in marketing, while the two before that were in finance. Here, it would be a good idea to focus more of your time talking about your previous role in marketing rather than your finance jobs. You should still mention your time in finance (and talk about transferable skills— aka tip #5 here), but focus more on your experiences that align with the role you’re currently going after. 

4. Go beyond what’s already written.

Don’t just rehash what’s already on your resume word for word. Instead, use it as an opportunity to add details that make the facts on your resume come to life. 

Here are a few ways you can go beyond the bullet points:

  • Elaborate on duties: Go into more depth about your duties and responsibilities.
  • Highlight big projects or achievements: Sometimes, there isn’t enough room to highlight every major win you’ve had a job. Use this time to talk about ones relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Show learning and growth: Discuss how you’ve grown in roles, whether you’ve learned new skills, got promoted, or took on leadership responsibilities.

The key here is to avoid just reading off companies and titles. You want to paint a picture of your career journey. Hopefully, the interviewer will see you in their role in the next chapter!

5. Highlight transferable skills.

This question is a great opportunity to address potential concerns about your experience. 

Even if your previous roles were in different industries or functions, you probably still utilized skills that are relevant to this job. These are called transferable skills. Transferable skills can be hard skills—like computer programs, data analysis, accounting, and project management— or soft skills— like leadership, communication, and attention to detail.

Emphasizing the skills and experiences that apply to the position you’re interviewing for can help show employers that even though you may have a different background, you still have what it takes to get the job done.

6. Address potential red flags.

Don’t shy away from gaps in your resume. Instead, use this as an opportunity to address them head-on. 

While you don’t have to go into detail, state why you weren’t working during that period. If you think it could help your case, you can add details that indicate your commitment to growth. For instance, if you used that time to travel, you can discuss how seeing the world helped you develop better communication skills and empathy. 

7. Be succinct.

Keep your explanations clear and concise. Avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary details or going off on tangents. Aim to provide enough information to convey your qualifications effectively without overwhelming the interviewer. 

Remember— you have the rest of the interview to dive deep into your experiences!

8. Demonstrate passion and enthusiasm.

Let your enthusiasm for your work shine through as you talk about your experiences. Passion and genuine interest in your field or industry can leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. Don’t be afraid to mention your favorite or most fulfilling aspects of roles. 

9. Practice active listening.

Pay attention to the interviewer’s cues and feedback throughout the conversation. Be ready to adapt your narrative based on their questions or interests.

10. Be authentic.

Lastly, be honest and genuine in your presentation. Don’t embellish or exaggerate your accomplishments. Interviewers appreciate authenticity and can usually tell when a candidate is being insincere.

Let your experience speak for itself

With these tips in mind, you can effectively walk an interviewer through your resume and set the rest of your interview up for success. Take a deep breath and let your experience speak for itself. You got this!