Interview presentations – The preparation
Interviews alone are enough to make most people nervous, but throw in the need to do a presentation (or two) and it becomes and even more nerve wracking prospect, especially if presenting isn’t something you do on a day to day basis. More and more organisations are using this form of assessment to gain a deeper understanding of their potential recruits. Generally the topic is based on the day-to-day role so it allows your interviewer to see how you approach tasks, how you behave under pressure and what your written and verbal communication skills are like.
There are two parts to successful interview presentations, the preparation and the performance. Here is our guide on how to prepare interview presentations…
1. Read the instructions carefully – you’re being asked to present so the interviewer(s) can assess your ability to do the role. Topics will vary from role to role but for example, you may be asked to present a project plan, how you’d improve a certain process, what you’d prioritise in your first 100 days, how you’d go about motivating a team. The list is endless, make sure you read the brief carefully and that you fully understand what is required before you start. If you’re unsure then ask.
2. Don’t forget the basics – before you put pen to paper or pick up a mouse check how you’ve been asked to present. Do you need to compile a slide deck on PowerPoint or do you just need to provide printed handouts? Will there be internet access on the day, as without it you’ll struggle to link to that YouTube video that perfectly makes your point, for example. Will you be expected to stand and present in front of a screen or just sit around a laptop on a table. Knowing this in advance will help to guide you when building your presentation and ensure you’re not taken unawares on the day.
3. Plan it out – just like you would plan a project in real life, plan your presentation in logical manner so it flows from slide to slide. You should start with an introductory slide that highlights the key points of the presentation, then move on to answering the question before finishing with a summary/conclusion. For example, if asked to critique a current business process, start by outlining the criteria you’re measuring it against, go on to show how it performs against each, and finish with your recommendations and what you’d do should you get the job. While you'll want to show how much you know, try not to put everything in, a few well thought out and explained points is better than throwing in 100s of possible options.
4. Formatting – everybody has their own opinion when it comes to PowerPoint. Some love it, some hate it, whatever your thoughts, it has the potential to be a great tool, when used correctly. Make your slides as clear and concise as possible, don’t fill them with everything you want to say, just use them as a visual prompt that backs up your point. This can be with an interesting graphic for example, or just a few short bullet points. Keep any flashy animation to a minimum (unless you’ve been specifically asked to get creative of course). Stick to simple transitions between slides. Try to match your presentation to the company brand, use their logo and colours, or even one of their templates if you’ve have access to one. Also try to avoid jargon or too many acronyms, while you know what they mean, all of your audience might not.
5. Check, check and check again – stating the obvious but make sure you’ve checked everything. Are there any spelling mistakes, have you got the company name spelt correctly, are you using the right logo. Are all slides consistent, for example headers in the same position on each slide, are they all in CAPS or lower case. If you’ve added any hyperlinks do they work, are any images displaying properly etc.. Finally do a test run, either in front of a mirror or someone you trust, check that all slides are working, that you're happy with what you're saying about each. Time yourself to make sure you’ve not gone substantially over or under time, remember to leave some time at the end for questions.
Now you’re armed with all the information you need to create stand-out interview presentations. Check back next week on how to ace the performance and present with confidence.
However, if you’re not at the interview stage yet then check out our other top tips and get your job search off to a flying start.