Interviews can be stressful and certainly require a lot of detailed preparation. If that’s not enough to worry about,…then you are asked to give a presentation.
Why? Well, presentations serve two core functions in the interviewing process.
They showcase both your knowledge of a topic or process and your skills, whether that’s your ability to synthesise information, to speak with confidence, to influence and explain and to stay calm under pressure.
Like lots of seemingly stressful and insurmountable obstacles to persuading someone of your general wonderfulness and getting hired, there are clear steps and actions to make the experience easier and more impactful.
Get absolute clarity from the recruiter or hiring manager on the what, how, when, with and why. Ask lots of questions to get the direction and information you need so you can properly and fully prepare. Plus, this shows you have a strategic brain, can ask the right questions and are not just taking information at face value.
Include the practicalities as well – who will attend, on what platform and what package should the materials be in? Will you need to send slides or materials in advance? Don’t leave room for error or assumption.
Be fully prepared so there are no surprises.
Yes, thinking. Not jumping into preparing. Take your time to think about what you’ve been asked to do, why and what it is the audience is looking for.
Perhaps check in with peers or contacts who might have been through the same process or who can provide insight on what may be expected. Candidates often rush or miss out this step and it comes back to bite them, so put time on one side to really think about the what, why and how.
This is the doing bit. Sketch out the structure, add in the key points you want to make and start to draft content. As you do that, remember this is an interview so try to integrate examples from your career to showcase your knowledge, skills and experience and connect what you have to offer to the job requirements. The conclusion or recommendations at the end are a great place to offer insight into how you see the role progressing (with you in it).
Prepare supporting notes that you can have on one side should you be asked to go into greater detail.
Keep your visuals brief, highlighting key messages and data points only to keep attention on what you are saying.
Practise again. Record yourself. Then practise some more. Practise with someone else and get feedback. You get the message.
Make sure you run to time and know your content. Speak out loud when you practise so you find the flow with your words, editing or removing and phrasing or words that interrupt that flow. You don’t need to memorise your script but you do need to be able to speak with confidence.
And think about doing it like a tour guide. Set the scene as to what you are going to show the audience and then take them on the tour. Indicate as you go, pointing out key messages – “as you can see here…”. Your aim is to highlight and inform, not to describe what your audience already knows or can see in front of them.
Like a guide, give your audience a few seconds to absorb the information, make your point and move on, signposting where you are going next.
In your delivery, harness the power of the pause, steady your breathing and remember to keep eye contact with your audience.
That’s it. Five steps to giving a hire-worthy presentation.
If you are struggling with your preparation or practice, why not get in touch and see where a session of Career Therapy can take you?