Interview Presentation on any Subject

Often as part of an interview, you are asked to give an interview on any subject. Here our readership discuss tips and tricks to help you out

Question from Bill Herrell

I have a second interview with a telecommunications company as a trainer. I’ve been asked to give a 5 to 10 minute presentation on any subject, using any media. My mind has gone blank as to subject matter.

Answer from Amy Rose

The best topic to give is one that you are very comfortable with. Have a topic that is work related such as a project at work that gave you the best feedback. If you enjoyed the project you will naturally talk with enthusiasm and passion and you will be seen as a person who can get things done. The secret is not to get too bogged down on justifying the project. Use your precious time to show what the impact of the project was. Use pictures to convey the story.

If it is a training job that you are going for make sure that you interact with the audience. I hope that this helps. Please share the topic that you choose on this discussion board so that others may get a bit of inspiration.

Question from Emerald

I have an interview on Friday where I need to give a “not more than 10 minute” presentation on Microsoft office – I would be teaching ECDL if I am successful.

I was going to do something on PowerPoint, but other than pasting lots of page dumps on how to do things, I am struggling for inspiration! I only got the interview letter last night – hence the short notice.

Any suggestions, please? I really want this job – and am so pleased I even managed to get the interview!

Answer from The Presentation Doctor

There is a number of techniques that you could use.

One is to do a presentation on “how not to use PowerPoint”, or on “death by PowerPoint”.

You could include all of the clip art that we have all seen before,  the annoying sound effects  and also the wacky animation effects.

Question from Richard Brown

I have a 15-20 minute interview presentation with a large fortune 500 company for a sales position. The only kicker is that I can present on anything the company sells, which is what I am most passionate about.

Answer thanks to Mike

It really pays to do something that you are passionate about. Take the next best thing that you are passionate about and present on that.

You could also start with a line like “what I am really passionate about is ….” then give a few examples of your passion, and then go on to say “but I have been asked not to present on this” and go onto your main presentation. This will show that you are keen about the subject area and can let you shine on the new topic as well.

Question from Joanne

I have been put forward for promotion in the Estate Agency where I work now. The job role is managing partner. I have been asked to give a 10 minute presentation on what I would do in the first 60 days in branch. So far I have got one idea (observe and get to know staff) that is as far as I have got. I am being interviewed by the area manager and personnel.

Answer thanks to Dee Hockley

This is always a difficult one to present on. You are right that in the first 60 days observing and getting to know the staff is by far the most important step. I know the difficulty of hitting the ground running with a new plan, but without having gathered all the correct information.

In a way what they are actually asking is “what skills will you bring to the job”. The key is to highlight your three main skills in your presentation and how they will apply in the first 60 days.

There will be a couple of other areas that can also be quite useful in the first 60 days as well. “Teambuilding” is going to be very important during the first phase. It would also be quite useful to “conduct a thorough review of all the cases on the books at the moment”.

The other thing is to also do a little digging of what you can find out about some of their problems – not enough houses on their books, poor particulars, houses that are hanging around too long, phone calls not being answered etc. These may also be things that you would be able to look at in your review.

If you are looking for a section on teambuilding, then here is a good line that I have come across. Of all the advice I have ever seen about motivation, this really is the best. It is a very simple technique that really works well (the best ideas are very simple).

  1. Make a list of all things done to you that you abhorred.
  2.  Don’t do them to others. Ever.
  3. Make another list of things done to you that you loved.
  4. Do them to others. Always.

Question from Mike Howell

I have a job interview in 2 weeks and I have to do a 10 minute presentation on introducing a proactive customer ethos within a previously administrative and process driven team. I’ve never done a presentation before and I don’t know where to start to find the subject matter information.
Answer from Lee Gold

If you need to stick to the question they have given you, then you effectively have to present back to them what you would do in the job.

The problem would appear to be that the team see themselves as administrators or process drivers rather than as champions of customer service. I have typically seen this in departments such as accounts or claims handling. If often happens where there is a pool of lower paid staff and a backlog of work, that never seems to go down.

People often see their work as part of a process. I’ll get round to it, when it gets to the top of their pile. They often see people who chase them up as irritating distractions and can treat them accordingly. Changing the customer ethos is all about changing the culture of the team.

If I had picked up this job, I would have effectively had to do three things to solve this problem. This would have formed the basis for my presentation.

  1. You will need to bring in a customer service training scheme. This is best carried out in small groups and would be a little similar to the “quality circles” where you discuss the concept of internal customers and how you could better support them.
  2. You will need to second some additional support to get a breather for the team to be able to undertake the sessions.
  3. You will need to start teambuilding to make the team stronger.

These may not work for you, but I think that you may be able to follow the flow and could substitute the three main action items that you would do in this role.

These could for the three key parts of your presentation. What you then have to do is to illustrate the presentation with examples of how you have been able to do, or have participated in similar roles in the past. This will for the structure for the presentation.

You will then need to make your presentation as visual as you can to help to get the message across.

Question from Mary Suttner

I am giving a presentation for a second interview. I was told that I could do it on any topic I like, but that I would not have access to an overhead nor a computer with PowerPoint but could have handouts. I was thinking of making a presentation relating to the business decision making process. (This is a financial analyst position)

I am planning on relating the analytical decision making process involved in playing and those used in business. I also feel the process of learning to read people is something that can also be useful in a business position.

My main concern is that by discussing this my potential employer may feel that I am a gambler and think poorly about this. I plan on explaining how this is a game of skill with a certain amount of luck involved and is not a game of chance.

Am I going down a bad road with this?

Answer from Megan Berwick

I think that the analogy is a great one, but could leave the audience with the impression that you are a gambler. If you could modify the idea to a generic game of cards (like Whist, for example) then you would be on a much stronger ground. You could talk about how financial analysis “is like a deck of cards” etc. You could take in a pack of cards to illustrate the point.

The trick is not to labour the analogy too far. I have seen a number of presentations where the analogy starts to wear a little thin after too many uses. Bring it up at the beginning as an attention grabber and use it at the end to help summarise the key points.

Question from Andre Patteau

I’m having a change of career to become a holiday representative in a “select” department for over 25’s and need to do a 3 minute presentation on “A specific example of a time when you have delivered excellent customer service – telling what you did and why you think it was excellent”

Answer from The Presentation Doctor

The real point of the presentation is not necessarily about the story but to see (a) how well you can present yourself (as a rep you will have to give the welcome presentations) (b) how customer focussed you are.
What you may be better doing is to change the presentation to something like “Great customer service” or “The seven deadly sins of Customer service”. You can the populate the presentation with examples of good and bad customer service and also show how you personally have been, in your career, have been able to provide good service.

Question from Paul Sear

I am being interviewed for Risk Operations Manager for a bank tomorrow and have been advised that I have to deliver a 20 minute presentation with forty minutes advance warning of the subject. Does anyone know of any subjects I might be asked and how to go about delivering a presentation on something I may not know too much about? I have been told by colleagues that it could be about baking a cake/knitting!!!

Answer from Mandy Pattern

A good start would be to work out what the position involves. There are a range of clues on this, but if you can get an inside track that would be good. It may be worth looking to find out as much information on the company as you can.

The next step is to work out the three key attributes for the job. The role of the presentation is then to illustrate how you can fit these key attributes.


Published On: 24th Oct 2015

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  1. Hi,

    I have a 4 hours assessment interview next week and this includes a presentation. I have done power point presentations before but in this case I am a bit puzzled with the presentation brief I was given: “take a complex subject of my choice from any field of my life and talk about it for 20 mins”. This is extremely wide and vague because I don’t even know where to start from… Also I am not sure what outcome they are after… Would someone please give me some tips from previous experience? Thanks!

    Maria 27 Oct at 1:09 pm
  2. I have called for an interview in Pharmaceutical company and have been asked to give a presentation not more than 10 min in a topic that have two conflicts and to convince the audience on one conflict, can you please help me out.
    thank you very much

    I really need your help 4 Dec at 10:18 am
  3. I Have a second interview, free topic, I ‘m interviewing for a trainer position for a credit union, What will be a good Topic to talked about? Please help me!

    Anonymous 18 Apr at 5:43 am
  4. Hello,
    I have a presentation for an interview in a couple of weeks. The hiring manager told me it can be on any subject but it must be informative and interactive. I come from the restaurant industry and this is the pharmaceutical company. I will be interviewing as a trainer. Any suggestions on topics I can present on? Please I need some assistance! Thank you!

    Diana 7 Oct at 7:19 pm