Job interviews can be stressful enough, and then they say the sentence in an email that everyone dreads… “We would like you to prepare a 10-minute presentation on *such and such* subject”.
For those that love participating in theatre, it probably sounds like a breeze. For everyone else, it can be nauseating. So how do you make sure that you come across calm and collected during your job interview presentation? How do you make sure that your presentation is a showstopper, proving that they would be stupid not to hire you? Hopefully, this article can give you some helpful tips to make sure you nail that job interview presentation.
The prep work
First thing first, read and re-read that email again. Make sure you understand what they want from you in the presentation. If you are unsure about anything, reply to the email and ask. It is much better to clarify something at the start then not be sure what they want you to do.
Post-it notes (or something similar) are always handy to remember the more vital information i.e. how long the presentation has to be, whether or not the presentation has to be interactive, or what medium you’re allowed to use (can you use PowerPoint or are you using a flipchart?). You want to make sure you follow what they have asked you as this shows that you have good observation and application skills.
Depending on what they have asked you to present, means you might have to do a bit of research. This is one way they test your aptitude during the interview, so it is always good to do a broad scope of research and then narrow it down for your presentation. Pick out anything you think will be interesting and engaging to your audience and make sure to keep your research organized, whether it’s online or hard copy.
Whilst they want you to know the facts/content that you are presenting, you do not need to worry about being an expert. All they want from you is to learn how you work, how you extrapolate important information and what you’re like under pressure.
The job interview presentation
The main advice out there for your presentation is to not overwhelm your audience with information. This can be either be by trying to fit too much information within the time frame that you have, or it can be making them read long paragraphs as well as listening to you. Remember, this is YOUR interview. You want them focused on YOU. The best way to do this is to have as little writing as possible on your accompanying slides (or whatever you’re using to support your presentation) and maintain eye contact when you are talking to your audience.
Instead, use your slides as hints or guides for your presentation. Using photos/graphs/simple bullet points as much as possible means that you are getting your message across clearly whilst also making sure the audience isn’t distracted by reading a tiny worded-hard to read paragraph.
Using pictures/graphs/bullet points also helps to make sure that you do not forget what you’re saying. It’s much harder to remember long stretches of script for your presentation because mucking up one word can make you more nervous and more likely to lose your rhythm. By using your slides as prompts, you can be more “in the moment” in the interview and you do not have to worry about what you’re going to say next!
There is the perfect acronym that you can use to help you create your presentation. KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid. A bit rude maybe, but certainly an effective way to make sure you stay on point and keep your presentation as concise as possible. You don’t need to fancy transitions or over the top graphics. Yes, they may want to see that you have a basic understanding of different Office applications such as PowerPoint, but it’s the message in the presentation and how you conduct yourself that they’re most interested in.
Practise and practise again
They say that practice makes perfect and it certainly helps in this case. Ask family and friends if you can present it to them and ask for feedback. You want to make sure that you’re getting across everything that you want to in your presentation.
If it’s a timed presentation, make sure to time yourself. If you’re over on time, ask yourself why. Do you take too long to communicate a point? Or do you just have too much you’re trying to say? If you are under on time, check to make sure you are not talking too fast. Maybe pause occasionally and see if you can ask your audience questions to elongate your presentation.
Not only should you practise the content of your presentation but you want to work on your delivery as well. Film yourself or speak in front of a mirror/another person to make sure that you have good body language, the correct tone of voice and the right speaking pace in order to come across confident and competent.
Look at your job interview presentation from their point of view
This can be hard to do but very important. In some interviews, the panel may ask you to review your own presentation. What did you like about it? What do you think can improve? How would you change it if you had to present it to a different audience? This is a fantastic way to show that you can critique your own work and that you have good reflective skills. Apart from saying something along the lines of “it was rubbish” (because of course, it won’t be), you can highlight anything you want about your presentation and suggest how you would improve/adapt it.
It is always tough to tell the people who might be hiring you on how you would improve something, so you don’t have to choose something big. Maybe the pictures you chose were not high enough quality, or you relied upon a sound clip when there was not the capability for it in the room. Even something as little as, “I would change the font so it was more readable to a potential audience who may be further away” shows that you’re thinking critically about your work and that you are eager to learn and improve. Just make sure you explain your answer as they are looking for critical thinking AND reasoning skills.
They may not ask this question in the interview. But if they do, do not worry about asking for a moment or two to collect your thoughts (this can be said the same for any hard question in the interview). They would much prefer a 1-2-minute silence if you gave a well thought out answer than an immediate answer that borders on waffle.
Calming your nerves
Interviews can be stressful and having to do a presentation is even more so. It’s perfectly natural to get nervous with public speaking but you can take steps to help mitigate these nerves. The first thing to remember is they want you to be there. You have already succeeded with being invited to interview so they already like the sound of you. This is just another way to sell yourself to show you would be the perfect person to hire for the role.
Next thing, work on your breathing. Even if you feel like a jittery mess, breathing deeply can trick your body into thinking its calm so the end result is you WILL be calmer. If you feel this isn’t working, then you can always use your nerves to your advantage. The adrenaline that’s coursing through your veins during the interview can make for a more exciting presentation. Use that energy to come across as confident, animated and passionate for the job.
- Make sure your presentation includes everything they have asked of you to include
- KISS – keep it simple stupid
- Take deep breaths – don’t rush and use pauses if you need to
- Try to overcomplicate or overcrowd your presentation
- Do not forget to practise – use a mirror or a friend to make sure you’re communicating clearly
- Don’t worry! – they picked you as a candidate, so you know they have faith in your skills and experience
Go for it and good luck!
Now that you have your job interview presentation looking prim and professional and you know how to conduct yourself, it’s time to relax. It is always best to give a day or two before proofreading your work so that you have a fresh mind when reviewing your masterpiece. Be proud of what you’re about to present and …. Most of all, good luck!
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Remember to check out other Fledglink blogs such as what to wear, tips for graduate interviews and tips for school leaver interviews. Download the app to stay up to date with invaluable articles and the latest personality quizzes that can help you towards cruising through any interview.