Interviews can already make you feel quite nervous, but when you’re asked to also give a presentation, you can feel even more apprehensive. Preparing to answer some tricky questions is par for the course, but presentations are a less familiar territory for most people.
If you are applying for more senior roles, interview presentations will become more of a regular occurrence. It is important to establish this skill sooner rather than later as recruiters are now building this interview technique for candidates trying to progress upwards within their career.
Reasons why employers ask you to give an interview presentation
As a candidate, when you are asked to present as part of the process the interviewer wants you to show the following:
- Can you do the job?
- Do you have strong communications skills?
- Are you organised?
- Are you diligent enough?
Preparing with the above in mind will allow you to demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for the role you are applying for.
So, how do you deliver the best presentation? Here are four tips:
1. Prove you are the right candidate
Understand: Ensure you are absolutely clear on what is being asked of you from the presentation and the and how it is relates to the role. Work with your recruiter so that they can help you with any questions you may have and check that you have interpreted the brief correctly.
Demonstrate your value: Re-visit the job description so that you can highlight the required skills and incorporate these within your presentation.
Research: Have you looked into the business objectives of the company or any major industry/ organisation changes? Where possible, see what has worked or hasn’t before so you can have a distinctive approach on how you would handle this particular assignment.
Utilise your preparation time as much as possible so that you can understand and personalise your approach to relate to the skills required. Remember that your recruiter will already know a lot about the hiring company and can provide advice on how to remedy any gaps in your industry knowledge.
2. Prepare your presentation
Now that you have established what you want to say, you need to think about how you are going to say it.
Structure: Your first slide should give an overview of the contents of your presentation. This should be followed by an introductory slide and essentially known as the ‘grabber’ i.e. – grabbing the attention of your interviewer with a quote, stat or an interesting fact that relates to the topic. Each slide after that needs to have clear headline as to what it is about. This can either be shown visually (preferably in my view) or with a few bullet points that you can talk around and provide further detail.
Concise: By bullet points, I mean only one or two per slide and no more. Someone once told me that presentation slides should be like road signs, containing enough information to get people’s attention but not so much to get them distracted.
Audience: During your presentation, the panel may vary with different expertise, so make sure you have researched who they are and written something that is relevant for all. Keeping the language simple and to the point will more likely engage your audience rather than overcomplicating things.
Including all the above within your presentation will ensure you come across as clear, informed, and communicative.
3. Present like a pro
Preparing your presentation is one thing, but the most important part is how you deliver it.
Presenting clearly and in an engaging way is essential, as your interviewer will be assessing your communication skills throughout your interview presentation.
Practice: Avoid spending the whole presentation reading from a piece of paper or your slides, and allow yourself to make eye contact and power pose your way through the interview. Recap the key points from each slide and then talk in more detail, keeping the amount of time you have in mind. Practicing beforehand enables you to speak more naturally and fluently, but bring cue cards with prompts just in case.
Deliver: Before your interview, it is recommended to run through your presentation in front of someone else who can provide feedback. Failing that, try recording yourself or simply delivering it in front of a mirror. Judge yourself honestly on confident communication; speaking pace, tone and body language are all important. Critically asses how long it takes you to deliver each point so that you do not over-run. This may cause you to miss out on key points, impacting the quality of your presentation.
Breathe: Event the best presenters get nervous, if you are not a natural public speaker, then take steps to calm your nerves. Remember to take deep breaths and not rush though your sentences. Remind yourself that the interviewers are just regular people too, who have been in your position before, they genuinely believe in your strengths to potentially be a successful candidate. Why else would they invite your for an interview?
4. Prepare for due diligence
The employer would want to see that you are diligent and organised in the way you approach tasks, and that you have an eye for detail.
Think technical: Decide whether you will be using one their devices or one of your own, if one of theirs, ensure you send your slide deck beforehand and ask your recruiter to see if this displays correctly. Arrive to the interview at least 15 minutes before, giving yourself enough time to test the systems and set up your presentation.
Bring back-up: Even if you are presenting the slide deck on your own device, carry a back-up copy on your USB and email to both yourself, and to the recruiter to pass onto the client. Print out your presentation and hand this out to all your interviewers, this way if something goes wrong technically, you at least have Plan B to fall back on (going old-school isn’t always a bad thing).
Talk on time: Find out how long the presentation needs to be, giving yourself enough time to go through all your points, and make sure you leave enough time for questions at the end.
Identify the brand: Try to be on brand by looking at the fonts and colours of the company website. You can also try to find existing presentations on their site to match their format with yours.
Check, check, check: From every comma, full stop to the format and layout, proof read your presentations and get someone else to do this for you too.
Using all the tips above will give you a clear approach of how you want this presentation to be delivered. By taking the time to fully prepare for your interview presentation, you will demonstrate to your potential employer just how passionate you are about this role, moreover, why they should be just as passionate about you too!
For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.
About this author
Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance. She provides strategic leadership to a team of 400 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across 100 UK offices. With 20 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a track record of recruiting top finance talent for businesses across a range of industry sectors, and is a trusted industry voice on career planning and market insights.