An interview presentation is your best opportunity to shine before your prospective employers. Follow these ten simple guidelines to wow your assembly and prove that you’re the right person for the job…
1. The Intro
Kick your presentation off with an in-depth introduction, detailing the responsibilities you will assume in your new position. This will show that you have a comprehensive understanding of the role you’ve applied for, and are fully aware of the challenges you will face. Support your points with a statistical chart or two – these will establish your proficiency in background investigation and demonstrate the effort you’ve invested in researching the topic at hand. If you can convince your audience that you can work on your own initiative and will require minimal in-house training in order to take up the role in question, you’ll be a huge leap closer to securing the position.
2. Slide Design
Your presentation may be your only opportunity to show off your style of work, so it’s imperative that each slide is not only full of useful facts and ideas, but also easy to read and understand. The font should be large, plain and consistent, the backgrounds unobtrusive, and the bullet points displayed in order of importance.
Remembering, also, that the bulk of your message should be delivered verbally, the word count of each slide should never exceed fifty – anything more than that and your viewers will be too busy absorbing the text to pay full attention to your oral elucidations.
3. Persuasive Imagery
Using symbolic, memorable illustrations to articulate your ideas will not only demonstrate your sheer creativity, it will also express the concept at hand far more quickly than plain old text ever could. To show your understanding of the long-term challenges facing your prospective employers, for example, a labelled illustration of a ship negotiating a series of obstacles on its way to shore might prove highly effective. The ship would symbolise the company, the island its annual target, and each obstacle (a tidal wave, a shark, a perilous outcrop of razor-sharp rocks, et cetera) would represent a potential threat to the company’s success.
A word of warning, though: always avoid the use of clichéd stock-photos and clip art in your presentations; these reek of the mundane conventionality your interviewers have seen – and likely rejected – countless times already.
4. Use the Whiteboard
As well as keeping your hands occupied (reducing tell-tale fidgeting and allowing your posture to exude natural confidence), using the whiteboard to back up your points will give your pitch an impressive “on-the-go” feel and show that you can convey important information at the drop of a hat.
Whether that means drawing up a chart, writing a list or sketching a caricature, live drawing will convince the audience of your hands-on creativity, and, used in conjunction with your slides, allow you to add detail to your projections without having to modify your presentation software. And don’t let a lack of belief in your artistic prowess put you off – even if you’re truly horrendous with the pen, adding a dash of humour to your pictures will more than make up for any artistic shortcomings.
5. Time Management
Good time management is one of the major qualities searched for in prospective recruits, and your interview presentation will make for a great opportunity to show your ability to stick to rigid pre-set deadlines. To avoid over-running the designated pitching period (or, equally, finishing too early), structure your talk into three sections: introduction, body and conclusion.
The first and last of these should each take up no more than 15% of your total talk time, with the 70% in between remaining dedicated to the central points of your presentation. Then, rehearse in front of at least two associates – not only will this allow you to identify any sections that might last longer or shorter than you initially expected, it will also help you to learn your material by rote, and make the idea of presenting before strangers seem a great deal less daunting.
When it comes to interview presentations, your primary goal should be impressing the audience with your depth of knowledge, technical know-how and dedication to background research. So, spare no expense in the implementation of appropriate, intelligent audio/visual excerpts.
Imagine, for instance, the impact you’ll make when, having asserted a series of bold, extravagant claims, you prove your points by rolling out a video of the public interviews you carried out last week. As great as supportive multimedia can be, though, do not allow it to make up more than 15% of your pitch time; the fundamental object of any interview presentation is for the audience to see and assess how you conduct yourself in person – and by relying too heavily on multimedia, you’ll deny them one of their principal rights as prospective employers.
Be careful, though, that you do not use up valuable time getting the video (and in particular the soundtrack) to work.
7. Combat the Anxiety
Nerves are natural, even the most seasoned speakers have found themselves consumed by the jitters from time to time. But by harnessing the energy that accompanies anxiety, you can improve your interview presentation no end. From the pre-pitch yawn (which provides you with a fresh, calming shot of oxygen and loosens your jaw and throat muscles) to good shoulder posture (which helps to reduce the pressure on your lungs and allows you to speak at a fitting pace), there are a wide variety of easy and practical ways to calm yourself prior to and during an important oration. Just remember that, no matter how badly your spiel turns out, the effort you’ve put into it will be recognised, admired and appreciated; as long as you know that your material will be sound and its delivery as good as you can manage, there’s really no reason to be nervous at all.
For our comprehensive list of nerve-busting tips, please click here
Telling your audience a relevant story or anecdote will not only reveal the charming personality behind your professional facade, used wisely, it could also speak volumes about your past experience and convince your viewers that you’re the recruit they’ve been searching for. If the subject of your discussion is after-sales service, for example, a tale of a terrible experience that you as a customer once endured will project a sense that you recognise and appreciate customers’ needs. Or, if your talk is focused on effective marketing, an interesting story of one of your greatest achievements in a previous position will demonstrate your understanding of (and ability to meet) the new role’s requirements.
Once your presentation’s good to go, test it repeatedly to ensure that each and every one of its features is functioning as expected. Once you’re satisfied, arrange to arrive for the big event at least fifteen minutes early so that you can assemble and test your apparatus; if you delay kicking off the presentation because of a software fault or wire malfunction, you’ll be seen as being ill-prepared and, by proxy, unenthusiastic about the job on offer. Regardless of how well-organised you are, however, you can never predict just when the resident Techno-Gremlin will rear his ugly head – but remember that, even if the worst happens, all is not necessarily lost. In fact, if you’re able to maintain your composure in the face of misfortune, you’ll come across as a placid, level-headed candidate who can work on your own initiative and make the best of any given situation.
10. The Handout
As well as demonstrating the amount of effort you’ve invested in your pitch, the handout is a fantastic chance to offer your interviewers a glimpse of the quality of written work they can expect if they decide to take you on.
First and foremost, remember that not all of those considering you for the position will necessarily have been at the presentation in person, so it’s important that your handout not only looks stylish and professional but also makes sense without the context of your verbal elaborations.
From your business card to a bibliography of your background investigation, these will give a strong sense of your professionalism and leave your viewers wondering when you’ll be available to start.
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24 October 2011