If you have succeeded in getting to final interview stage you may be asked to deliver a short presentation to a panel. You will usually be given a specific topic to prepare and will be judged on:
- The quality of your ideas.
- The clarity of your thinking – for example if you are able to take a strategic perspective.
- Your verbal communications skills, especially your ability to influence and engage your audience.
- Your organisation skills: how well you prepare beforehand and manage your time within the presentation.
- Your formal presentation skills where this is a key part of the job.
Here are our 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. It is important to 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 and well laid out. You should include the following:
- A short introduction explaining what the presentation is about and what you are going to cover.
- 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.
- Say thank you and invite questions at the end.
Less is more – keep your presentation succinct and to the point. It is better to let the interviewer ask follow-up questions at the end rather than rushing which may mean they will miss your most important points. We would advise to keep presentation to three or four slides for a five minute presentation, or six or seven for a ten minute presentation. If you need to produce a separate handout with additional information please do so, but ensure your presentation looks clean and uncluttered.
Top tip! You don’t have to put all your points onto your slides – it is fine to put some top-line points on a slide but then elaborate on them verbally. If your presentation requires more detail, this can be given as a supporting hard copy handout.
Design of slides – keep your design simple. Use clear fonts and where possible use the company’s logo and brand colours. This will show that you have thought about your presentation and put some effort into it. If you feel like you are putting too much on your slides, then you probably are. Don’t fill your slides with too much text and use imagery or graphics where possible to make them as vibrant and interesting as possible. Less is more in this instance, and the cleaner your slides look, the easier they will be to read.
Manage your time – your presentation should not exceed the amount of time you have been given – if it is too short you can appear underprepared and if it is too long you may be cut off halfway through and penalised for not following 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. You may also want to research what their competitors are doing in this field to get some ideas on what might work?
Top tip! Have some relevant facts and figures to illustrate key trends at your fingertips – this can enhance your credibility and show impressive levels of preparation.
Know your audience – before you start writing your presentation, think about who is going to be interviewing you. What are their job responsibilities, priorities and professional backgrounds? 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 on to 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 your presentation out – we would always advise that you run through your ideas for the presentation with someone else and test it thoroughly. Asking for feedback 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 stick just in case. It can also be helpful to print off some hard copies in case there are problems with the projector. You may wish to take a small clock in case the room doesn’t have one, and you don’t wish to keep checking your watch. It is also advisable to email your presentation to the company before your interview takes place. This way you are covering all bases in case any sudden mishaps happen.
Build rapport – the more familiar you are with your material 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 at ease and make the experience much more enjoyable. It is also important to look up and not down at a piece of paper. Engage eye contact and ensure the interviewers can see your face and not the back of your notes.
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.