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Interview Presentation

An interview presentation is a chance to show a company what you can do. Usually, the interview presentation will focus on one of the tasks that you’ll be required to perform as part of the job role. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, they might ask you to present a marketing plan.

Otherwise, the company might ask you to deliver a presentation on why you are right for the role, or something as simple as your hobbies. Either way, they will be assessing whether or not you are the right for the role and their company.

Interview presentations are, to use a cheesy phrase, a chance for you to shine. The ball’s in your court, so to speak. Instead of defensively answering questions, you get to stage a ‘charm offensive’ on them. If they give you the topic in advance, it’s the one part of the interview that you will really have control over, so use it to your advantage.

How can I wow them with my interview presentation?

First of all, you should think about what they want from the presentation. The topic should give you some clues, but they’ll also be looking for other things, such as:

- Evidence of strong communication skills;

- The ability to process, organise and prioritise key information;

- Confidence;

- Commercial awareness;

- Aptitude for the role;

- Enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the industry, the company and the job.

How can I ace my presentation?

It’s all in the preparation. Even if the interview is posited as an ‘informal talk’, you’ll want to make sure you prepare thoroughly. That means researching the topic, prioritising your key points and carefully structuring your presentation. You’ll probably only have a very short amount of time to deliver your presentation, so it’s all about brevity.

Brainstorm what you want to put in the presentation and what supporting information you want to include. Structure it into three or four main points, and strike out anything that isn’t relevant. An interview presentation shouldn’t be like a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings – you don’t want to stuff your audience with facts. To roll with the food analogy, your presentation should be like sushi (spot the pun): well structured, balanced, clean flavours.

It’s structure that really makes or breaks a presentation. Like a good story, you should have a beginning, a middle and an end. So start with an introduction: welcome your audience and give them a taste of what’s to come. You only really need a minute for your introduction, whereas more time should be spent on the middle of your presentation.

This is where you’ll run through each point, embellishing each one with relevant evidence and information. Decide how much time should be spent on each point, and try to stick to it.

End the presentation with a flourish. Not literally though! Nobody wants to see dramatic gestures or throbbing Shakespearean soliloquies. However, you don’t want your presentation to peter out. Instead, end it decisively, quickly summarising your points, thanking the audience and opening the floor for questions.

Rehearse your presentation…

Just having a structure noted down on a couple of cue cards isn’t enough; you need to practice delivering your presentation. First of all, check that you can deliver it in the time given. That doesn’t mean babbling too fast to squish your presentation into the designated time, but shaving off the fatty bits.

Try practising in front of a mirror or a video camera. Be critical and highlight the parts of the presentation that need more work; revise your presentation, then try it again. Practice it in front of our people and get them to give honest feedback.

Should I use visual aids during my interview presentation?

Really, it depends on the presentation. The company might specify that you should bring some, or it might be a relatively informal presentation where visual aids might just look a bit like you’re overdoing it.

Find out about the presentation facilities. There’s no point spending ages putting together beautifully crafted visual aids, if there won’t be the opportunity to showcase them. For example, if there’s no projector, you might want to think twice about using PowerPoint.

Here’s the thing, and you heard it here first: a well-delivered, concisely argued and tightly constructed oral presentation trumps a boring, clunky presentation with flashy slides any day. Believe us, snazzy visual aids aren’t the mark of a good presentation.

Ultimately, your presentation should stand on its own two feet without visual aids. They shouldn’t be something to hide behind. By all means, use hand-outs, flipcharts or slides, but remember they are just there to inform and support your points.

If you decide to use PowerPoint, make sure your slides are laid out clearly and simply. You probably won’t need many slides - for a short presentation three or four slides should do the trick. Use a large font size and short bullet points. Really, it shouldn’t be too text heavy; use pictures, charts, graphs or tables to break up the text.

Finally, here are our top tips for delivering an ace interview presentation…

- Don’t use a script at the presentation; you don’t want to be reading off a piece of paper. Swap your script for small cards, with short bullet points or headings to prompt you.

- Instead of looking at a piece of paper, you should maintain eye contact with the audience. Look around to engage everyone and project your voice. Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. If you start to gabble nervously, take a deep breath and slow down.

- Pay attention to your body language. Throw those shoulders back and flash those pearly whites. Stand up straight and try not to fidget. It’s all about looking confident, even if you’re shaking like a leaf on the inside.

Project your enthusiasm through your body language and your voice. Show them that you’re passionate about what you are talking about. The more connected and interested you seem in the topic, the more engaged the audience will feel. If they see that you’re happy to be there, they will relax and enjoy your presentation too.

- Use silence to your advantage. Take a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book and pause before making killer points. Believe us, it’s far better to punctuate your presentation with pauses than gabble away in a desperate attempt to fill silences.

- Try to build rapport with your audience. Saying hello, smiling and using a smattering of anecdotal humour is a good tactic. You might want to ask them a question, hand out something or encourage a bit of audience participation.

- If you start to panic, take some slow deep breaths. If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. Briefly acknowledge it and then move on.

- Put some variety into the presentation. Break it up by varying the time you spend on points or by using visual aids. Don’t just drone on at them; use short snappy sentences to grab their attention.

Now you're ready for the interview presentation, you should apply for a job. Check out our jobs board, apply, get an interview and put those presentation skills to good use!