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Preparing for an interview presentation
Have you recently been invited to an interview for your dream job and been asked to deliver a presentation as part of the process? Your first instinct may be to panic, especially if you dislike public speaking. But do not worry. As intimidating as doing a presentation can be, it is a real opportunity for you to showcase your skills and suitability for the role. Here are some top tips from our team on delivering a perfect interview presentation.
If you have succeeded in getting to the final stage of an interview process you may be asked to deliver a short presentation to a panel. If you have been asked to present the employer will likely give you a topic or brief to work to. Typically, this might address a current issue they are facing and ask you to make recommendations on how you would tackle it. For other, more niche sectors this may be a presentation around a specific aspect of the role.
It is important that you read this brief thoroughly and fully understand what you have been asked to do before starting, and if you have any questions, direct these to your recruiter or the hiring manager.
Things to think about prior to creating your interview presentation
During a presentation in an interview situation you will generally be judged on:
- The quality of your ideas: the interviewer wants to know that you have thought about the question asked, so it is important to spend a good amount of time on it and showcase how creative you can be. Think outside the box, but remember to keep your ideas relevant to the business you are applying for. If you go over the top, and deliver a presentation that does not relate or is not achievable, it will look like you have not done your research on the company.
- The clarity of your thinking: make your ideas clear and simple. The interviewer wants to know that you can relay information in a way that is easily accessible. They also want to know that you have a clear understanding of the ideas you are putting across. If you over complicate your presentation you may come across unprepared, and the interviewer may not buy into what you are proposing.
- Your verbal communications skills: the interviewer will be judging your ability to influence and engage your audience, so ensure you put your messages across in a clear and concise way. In some roles formal presentation skills are essential, so the presentation will be a key element of the application process.
- Your organisation skills: presentations are also a great way for the interviewer to judge how prepared you are and how well you manage your time. They will be able to tell if you have thrown your presentation together in a few hours so it is important to put some time and thought into it. Spend some time creating it and ask friends and family to help you practice and seek advice where possible on making your presentation stand out.
Our top tips for preparing an interview presentation
Here are out top tips to ensure your presentation goes down well during an interview.
- Have a clear message: work out what you want to say in two or three sentences before elaborating your ideas. Write this down and make this the theme of your whole presentation and refer to it regularly. Remember, in order to make an impact you need to have clear recommendations, backed up by convincing arguments.
- Structure your presentation: make sure the structure of your presentation is clear. You need:
- A short introduction explaining what the presentation is about and what you are going to cover.
- Information on how you would tackle the brief. Detail this in clear sections or themes within the presentation (there might be one slide per theme), ensuring your argument has a logical structure
- A summary of your arguments
- A clear conclusion with specific recommendations, identifying the resources required to deliver them.
- Less is more: it is better to keep your presentation succinct and allow the audience to ask follow up questions at the end rather than rushing through a mound of information. It is especially important that any slides you use are visually clear and not text-heavy. Restrict slides to 3 or 4 for a 5 minute presentation, and 6 or 7 for a 10 minute presentation, and never fill each slide with text. If you need to produce a separate hand-out with additional information please do so, but ensure your presentation looks clean and uncluttered.
- Manage your time: it is important that your presentation lasts the amount of time you have been given – too short and you can appear lazy or underprepared and too long and you come across as being poorly organised and unable to follow instructions. It is always a good idea to have a timed run through of your finished presentation.
- Do your research: make sure you have researched your topic thoroughly. Find out how the business has handled this issue or a similar situation in the past. Research what their competitors are doing in this field.
- Know your audience: before writing your presentation, consider your panel members. What are their job responsibilities, priorities, professional backgrounds and interests? You can find out a lot through online research on sites such as LinkedIn. Think about your presentation from their perspective and consider what aspects of the topic will most interest them.
- Predict follow up questions: go through your presentation and work out what questions the panel might ask, especially given their job roles and personal perspectives. Make sure you have an answer ready for these questions. Typical follow up questions might include:
- Why are you recommending x option and not y?
- What resources would be required to implement this?
- How would you go about getting sign off of your recommendations with key stakeholders?
- What are the risks of this plan of action and how would you minimise them?
- How do your recommendations fit with the organisations wider activities and strategies?
- Test it out: it is a good idea to run through your ideas for the presentation. Gathering views can help you discover if there is something obvious you have neglected to mention and to ensure your ideas are well understood by others. Also, make sure the presentation works to avoid any embarrassing mishaps on the day.
- Take a backup: always make sure you have a plan B if the technology is not working or a vital piece of equipment is not available. If you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation, email it to yourself as well as taking it on a USB stick just in case. It can also be helpful to print off some hard copies in case there are problems with the projector.
- Build rapport: the more familiar you are with your material and the more thorough your research, the more confident you will feel. The best way to engage your audience is to maintain strong eye contact; avoid looking at the screen or reading notes. Use keywords on a card as prompts rather than memorising sentences as a ‘speech’ as this will appear more natural and most importantly remember to smile, this will put you and the panel and ease and make the experience much more enjoyable.
Do you think you are ready to apply for your dream job? Search the live vacancies we have on our website now and let us find you your next interview opportunity.
Or for more tips to help with your job search check our handy Candidate Resources section. Alternatively you can get in touch with one of our expert Consultants today to discuss your options by calling 0161 834 1642.
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