How to prepare and deliver a knock out presentation at interview.
Nerves. Anticipation. Trepidation. No, it’s not your first date. It’s your first interview presentation.
It’s hard enough isn’t it? Having to fill out extensive applications, go through psychometric tests and assessments, sit through multiple stage interviews. And then the dreaded presentation gets thrown in as well.
You probably used to think that presentations were something you did once you were in a job. But increasingly presentations are being used as an assessment tool within an interview, and your potential employer will be looking to assess a variety of skills. These may include;
- How you approach a question/subject/project. Do you take it at face value? Question or challenge? Interpret a subject in a creative way?
- Your motivation and effort. After all it’s one thing to respond to questions and tests but another to prepare something autonomously.
- Your creative and technical skills. Does your presentation look professional? Is it corporate or creative showing an understanding of the employer brand? Is it accurate in its content?
- Your presentation, confidence, delivery and style. Depending on the role for which you are applying these skills may be of differing levels of importance, but certainly in a client facing, business development or fast track role, they are likely to be high priority.
- Your skills in research and resourcefulness. What information have you gathered? How have you analysed it? How have you presented it and come to your conclusion?
The chance to shine
It may seem extremely daunting. However, there is a real positive in being asked to do a presentation. It gives you a chance stand out and truly knock your interviewers’ socks off – if you put in the effort.
Standard interview questions may not enable you to demonstrate all your knowledge, skills and ability. They may not ask the thing that allows you to get in your creative thinking. There may not be the enough opportunity to show just how passionate you are about the company and how much you love the job.
A presentation gives you control.
You decide how to approach it. How much time to invest in it. How many times you will practice it.
So what makes a great presentation?
mybrink asked Ian Crocker, whose company Absolute Learning has successfully trained thousands of candidates through interviewing and assessment processes, for his top tips.
- Preparation and research: Look at everything. The company website. Organisation documentation. Online research for any news items or statements made by the Chief Executive. Also, research the industry and your potential employer’s competitors. Make notes and be clear on why this organisation, in your mind, is the best and show an understand of its achievements and challenges. Find some good headline grabbing statistics and ensure you understand what they mean.
- Think hard about the subject and the question. Are they asking for an interpretation and an opinion/judgement at the end of it? Are there ways to challenge the subject or question that will show a deeper level of thinking and analysis, and also creativity?
- Have an extra read through the job description and person specification of the role or scheme for which you are applying. If communication skills are high on the list, make sure practicing an engaging delivery is high on yours. If research skills are no.1 priority, make sure you have this well covered.
- Just like one of your university essays, think hard about the structure. Don’t make it an information dump on everything there is to know. Ensure it has an engaging start, then follows a logical structure, and finishes with a firm conclusion and an invite for questions.
- Pre-empt the questions they may ask, and ensure you know the answers!
- Be prepared for the interviewer to ask how you approached the presentation. They aren’t trying to catch you out, but simply assess how you may approach a similar task should they recruit you. So be sure of your sources and be able to explain the process you followed.
- On the actual presentation, don’t make it read like war and peace. Use bullet points to prompt the information you are sharing rather than listing absolutely everything on the screen. You want the focus to be on you.
- Vary the content with infographics and imagery to create a more engaging visual presentation.
- Ensure you take the correct tone of voice. Going for a creative role in the media industry? Go creative, include videos, use informal language. Applying for a corporate role in a big city investment firm? You may need to keep it corporate, sharp and formal. By reading the blogs and content on the organisation website, you should get a feel for the appropriate tone to use.
- Check and double check it for any errors and take a few printed versions in case of any technological malfunctions.
Finally, take a deep breath before you start. Ensure you are dressed comfortably (see our ‘dress for success’ guide for more help). Speak loudly, clearly and not too quickly.
And enjoy it. It really is your chance to shine.
From the mybrink team, good luck!