For many of us job interviews aren’t a stroll in the park. You would definitely be an exception if you didn’t get at least slightly jittery before walking into an interview for a job that you really like the look of. Add in to the equation a request for a presentation and it can all seem down right daunting! Don’t worry though, I’ve put together a few tips to help you impress when giving a presentation at a job interview.
Presentations at interview stage are becoming more and more popular. Whilst they were once confined to graduate recruitment and dedicated recruitment days, presentations are now widely used. That includes for higher-level management roles.
For employers, a presentation will give them the opportunity to understand a little more about their candidates. They’ll be able to:
- Establish more about the candidate’s personality and soft skills. Read our blog on what soft skills employers might be looking for.
- Understand how confident the candidate is in their knowledge
- Decide on the suitability of the candidate for the role but according to a specific set of topics that they’ve set out themselves.
Clearly, presentations are great tool for interviewers looking to pick out the candidates who really fit into their business.
Here are my tips on maximising a job interview presentation to your advantage:
Plan, plan, plan
A lot of people put together presentations haphazardly, simply choosing bits from their CV and adding in a bit more detail about what they achieved in their previous role. However, if you really break down your presentation planning process you’ll end up with a structured, more creative and effective result:
- Give yourself a timeline with a reasonable amount of time to write the presentation and practice it.
- Decide on an objective you want to achieve from the presentation – besides the obvious of landing the job! Think about what you want the interviewer to take away at the end of it.
- Brainstorm! Think outside of the box, be creative and simply write down lots of ideas and topics you think might ‘wow’ the hiring panel. But always keep your objective in mind.
- Get some feedback on your initial ideas. Ask friends and family for their opinion too.
- Decide on a format for your presentation…more about this in point number two!
- Write out the topics you need to cover and shift them about to find an order that works and flows well.
- Write your presentation out, word for word, and read through it plenty of times.
- Create your presentation in the format you’ve opted for.
- Start condensing your presentation into a notes format, which allows you to speak more naturally and conversationally whilst presenting. Choose a format that works for you – some people like simple bullet points, others prefer word boxes with headlines and brief notes.
- Practice by yourself! You’ll feel silly at first, but the more you practice by yourself the more confidence you’ll build. Build up to simply having your notes as a reference point; avoid reading them word for word.
- Ask to present in front of friends and family. Gauge their feedback and make edits to your presentation according to their thoughts.
- And then, of course, practice some more!
Choosing the right presentation format and technology
The obvious choice is to go straight to PowerPoint and begin creating a presentation using the normal slide format. However, your first point of call should be to ask the recruiter what presentation options you will have…
- Will there be a projector?
- Is there a suitable place for you to stand and present, or will you be sat down with the interview panel?
- Will you need any help being heard, with a PA system?
- Will there be a laptop? With all the necessary cables? Will you need to bring a USB stick with your presentation on or should you send it via email by a certain date?
If you decide a PowerPoint presentation is feasible in the environment, and you think it will help you to present and get your points across, definitely do use one! We like this blog post from LifeHack on ‘10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations’.
Some other creative presentation formats that don’t use PowerPoint include: using props (perhaps boards if you’re presenting creative work), a flip chart where you put your points up as you go, showing a brief video you’ve put together and then explaining it afterwards, or perhaps a live look at work you’ve done before that’s online.
Don’t forget, you can always create a quick handout that gives the interview panel something to take away and review.
Know your audience
Ask the recruiter who you’ll be presenting to and what their position is in the company. Expect to be presenting to at least three people, possibly including a member of the HR department, a member of senior management and the line manager you would be reporting to.
Do your research on the interview panel – log in to LinkedIn and have a look at what their day-to-day responsibilities are and if there’s a ‘Meet the Team’ page on their website. That way, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for the types of questions they may ask and the topics that may interest them most.
Be body language savvy
This is a tricky one because most of the time our body language is instinctive. If you’ve practiced your presentation plenty then you’ll probably feel more relaxed, and your body language will naturally reflect that.
A couple of pet hates for interviewers are:
- A lack of eye contact, which can make you seem disengaged. When you’re presenting, hold eye contact for a couple of seconds at a time with each interviewer.
- Static presenting. By this we mean crossed arms and a closed off attitude. Use your hands to express yourself too. It can make you seem far more passionate about the topic you’re covering.
- If you get nervous easily, fidgeting can simply be an instinctive reaction to the situation. However, try to avoid it if you can as it can come across as restlessness and boredom.
Be ready for question time…
Depending on how the interview panel like to work, you may get questions during your presentation or afterwards. In the majority of cases, interviewers will allow you to complete your presentation first and then ask a few questions relating to the topics you covered.
When you’re creating your presentation try to guess what an interviewer may ask. For example, if you’re talking about the time you managed a highly successful project consider whether they may ask if you encountered any problems with team members along the way – and if you did, how you resolved the issues.
So, that covers the main five points that we think every candidate should cover if they’re asked to do a presentation at interview stage. Remember, if you got the interview via a recruitment agency they will be able to help with any questions regarding what is expected from you and your presentation.
Let us know your tips for presenting at interview stage – we would love to hear them. Or, if you’ve got a presentation coming up ask us some questions! We’ll do our best to offer some advice.