by Donna Lund
Aside from the conventional interview format and assessment centres, part of the recruitment selection process may include a requirement to do an interview presentation.
Below are some helpful pointers to assist you when planning for a presentation. We hope you find this valuable.
Why do I have to do a presentation at interview?
When recruiting for senior roles, and those roles where presentations will be required, that candidates are asked to make a presentation during interview. This is an excellent opportunity to show your potential employers what you can do, away from the formal interview question and answers procedure. It also allows you to prepare and research more thoroughly, demonstrating your knowledge more than in a conventional interview.
What do I need to consider when planning an interview presentation?
You will be given some guidelines to follow, read these diligently and think about the significance of certain key words used. For example you could be asked to deliver a “technical” or “professional” presentation, what do these words mean in this context, in the industry the company operates in and in the role you are applying for?
How do I prepare my presentation?
Find out who you will be interviewed by. The person(s) role(s) will no doubt influence the way that you write and deliver your presentation. So try to find out as much about your interviewing panel as possible as this will assist you in gathering relevant content and pitching it at the right level.
How do I get the right structure?
Your presentation should be well planned, thoughtfully structured, with a logical order and a clear message running through. Try to keep the content to 3 succinct sections; an introduction, development of your argument, and a summary. Any more than that and your presentation will lose focus.
Aim to write a powerful introduction and summary to grab your audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression. As a general rule keep the introduction and summary each to about 10-15% of your allotted time.
What should I include in my presentation?
Follow the guidelines and brief you have been given and answer any specific questions given. Stick to the brief – avoid going off on a tangent.
Research and understand any issues the company has and where possible demonstrate that you will bring improvements and efficiencies to the business, and will offer solutions to long-standing problems better than any of the other candidates.
Can you identify any gaps in the company’s market or product knowledge? Are there new innovative methods that perhaps they are unaware of? Do you know of other tried and tested methods that could make a difference to this business? Don’t assume that the company know the answers to everything, show them that you will be a good source of ideas and methods, and how you would be able to add value to their organisation. This is your chance to wow them and prove that you are better than just their “minimum requirement”
How do I work on my delivery?
Ensure that you speak slowly and clearly and keep to the point so you don’t lose your audience. Deliver your introduction and summary with conviction and make a good lasting impression. Make regular eye contact with the panel as this shows confidence and you won’t risk distracting your listeners by having your head buried in your presentation, or your eyes glancing here, there and everywhere.
As you progress through your presentation, give your audience time to digest what’s on each slide before you begin talking again.
Don’t read your presentation word for word. Any written documents or notecards should only be a prompt which you can refer to and prevent you from digressing. It is worthwhile trying to learn your presentation by heart as not only will it give you confidence but you will appear more professional. Above all, a successful delivery will come from practice, practice, practice!
What format should my presentation take?
It is great to use PowerPoint slides so that the interviewers can see where you are going and what to look forward to. It is also a good take-away to remember you by and allows them to make notes. However, don’t overfill your slides or read the text out word-for-word as this will not engage your audience. To retain interest keep your slides to a header followed by a handful of bullet points and use images and/or graphs only where appropriate.
How should I begin my presentation?
Prior to starting your presentation it is worthwhile checking that any equipment you have is working – e.g. laptop is set up and any projector screens are aligned correctly. Introduce yourself to your audience before displaying your slides on screen, you don’t want them to be distracted before you’ve even started. Then ask the audience to keep any questions they have until the end, this way you won’t be distracted or lose your train of thought.
How do I ‘wrap up’ the presentation?
Invite the audience to ask you some questions. Dealing with questions gives you the opportunity to further demonstrate your knowledge of your subject. Consider the questions carefully to ensure you have understood what is being asked. Take your time to respond, and be sure that you have answered their question.
If you are faced with a conflict of opinions, don’t argue the point, instead find a compromise or ask other members of your audience for their view. This will diffuse any difficult situations.
Above all, be confident, be prepared and be yourself!