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Creating and Delivering the Perfect Job Interview Presentation
You’ve applied to what feels like (and may literally be) 101 different companies and you’ve finally landed that all important interview. Great! The only problem is, they’ve asked you to give a presentation about why they should hire you…
What makes a killer presentation? What will separate you from all of the other candidates?
Follow these tips to learn how to craft and deliver that perfect presentation.
1. Preparation, preparation, preparation
A good presentation can’t be knocked together in 5 minutes. It just can’t.
Your audience will be able to tell if you just threw some images you pinched from the web onto slides. They might just start to wonder whether, if you can’t be bothered to put the effort into preparing your presentation, you will put any effort in if they hire you… Once they start questioning that, you’ve lost them.
Make sure you set aside more time than you think you will need (this will take you hours, not minutes) and when the presentation is built, practice, practice, practice! (For some advice on making a great, visual presentation – and why that’s important – check out the free online tutorial: Better Presenter – Myths & Tips)
At this stage, it’s also worth thinking about the technology behind your presentation? Think about the font you are using: is it standard? If not, you need to embed it or it may not look right during the interview. Do you need to take your presentation to the interview on a USB stick (in which case, make sure you have a backup in the cloud/on your email in case something goes wrong with the stick); or are they expecting you to bring a laptop (in which case, it is probably worth sending a quick email ahead of time to find out what connectors you will need to connect to the projector and whether you are expected to supply them).
A slick presentation takes quite a bit of effort, but it will be worth it if you land that job.
2. Do your homework on the company and the role
It sounds obvious, I know, but find out what the company you are interviewing for actually does.
Yes, check their website and social media feeds, but every candidate worth their salt will also be doing that. To land the job you need to go that extra mile. Learn what you can about the people who will be interviewing you. There might not be much information available about the HR person you’re in contact with, but try to learn more about the other staff. Check out their LinkedIn profiles, have they written any books, or authored a guest blog post anywhere? Is the company referenced or reviewed anywhere? Try to get a clear picture of what the company does.
It’s also critically important that you find out what the company expect of you. Read the job description closely. Try to find profiles of current company members who are in a similar role and learn more about them.
So, you’ve done your research – now what? Now you need to weave the things that you’ve learnt that are important to the company, and the key skills that they want from someone applying for the role, into your presentation. And yes, this does mean that you will need a different presentation for every interview. Sorry!
Make sure your presentation is reflecting what is important to the people interviewing you. Which leads me on nicely to…
3. It’s not all about you
OK, so it is kind of about you. But my point is that the interviewer is not meeting with you simply to hear about how wonderful you are.
What the interviewer is trying to do is find someone who will benefit the company. It's important that your presentation is focused on how you would help them achieve what that company wants.
Not sure what they want? Read the job description again – there it is. There are your key words.
Your presentation shouldn’t simply list your accomplishments, it should be tailored to those key requirements on the job description. If they say in the job description they are looking for someone who is self-motivated, make sure you cover that in your presentation. You might have brilliant design skills, but if that is not part of your prospective role within the company, it shouldn’t be a key point in your presentation.
You need to tell the people interviewing you how you fit in with what they need.
4. What’s the proof?
You’ve read the job description and you now know the key words the company wants to hear from you. However, it’s not enough to say,
“I know that you are looking for someone who is self-motivated. I am.”
You need to prove it.
“I know that you are looking for someone who is self-motivated. When I was researching my thesis, I worked independently for two months, gathering the research and writing the thesis. This meant I had to be self-motivated and disciplined in my approach. Ultimately, I gained a first for the piece of work so my self-motivation paid off.”
In that example, you are both mentioning the skill they are looking for (multiple times) and giving a concrete example of when you did it.
Often, people will talk about a STAR approach (so giving the Situation, then the Task, then the Action and finally the Result) – and this can be a good way to approach it.
Have a relevant (and, ideally, interesting!) story to illustrate each of the key points you are covering. If you miss one of them out – they will notice!
5. Don’t forget to smile…
Ok, so pieces on interviews always offer advice like smile, dress smartly etc. etc. but it is important.
You’ve spent hours crafting that perfect presentation, make sure you do it justice.
First, as I said above, practice your presentation. Make sure you know exactly what you want to say for each slide (this doesn’t need to be a script, just the key points) and when all of the animations occur. Many people talk faster and either louder or softer when they are nervous. If you’re one of them (or you think you might be), when you’re rehearsing your presentation think about how you are speaking; record your attempts if you need to see for yourself. Practice putting pauses into what you are saying. It can be intimidating to leave silences when you’re giving a presentation, but they allow your audience to keep up, and ultimately make the presentation more effective.
When it comes to the big day, if you can, stand to give your presentation. This simple act can make you seem more confident (even if you are shaking inside). Interact with your slides – you’ve spent a long time making them, don’t just ignore them.
And finally, fake it till you make it. The act of pretending that you are calm and confident will often help you feel that bit more calm and confident. You’ve put all that hard work into the preparation – you can do this bit!
Interviews are scary. Everyone knows they are scary. The people interviewing you know they are scary and are probably feeling a little bit sorry for you.
However, if you prepare properly, do your homework on the company, focus on how the company will benefit from hiring you, prove the skills you have and come across well while doing so, you will have a much better chance at landing that job.
Now it’s up to you…
About the Author
Emma Trantham works as a Communication Consultant at BrightCarbon where she spends her time turning dense, technical information into compelling visuals, presentations and eLearning.