How to nail a presentation at your job interview
Interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. A deft balance of research, confidence, and self-promotion, there's a lot to handle during those face-to-face moments with potential employers. Your preparation is going swimmingly, you're ticking all the right boxes and confidence is bubbling over, but you've just been told you have to give a presentation during your interview.
Your equilibrium might have taken a knock but it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Instead, look at the presentation as an opportunity, a further means of showing your communication skills, adaptability and ability to stay calm under pressure. Here, we’ll talk you through how to make an impact and nail that interview presentation.
Ensure you understand the brief
Go through the brief with a fine-tooth comb and know what is required of you during the presentation, including its aims and purposes. You want to be able to go into an interview free from doubt; make sure you’re not missing out key points by thoroughly understanding what’s being asked in the brief. Much like a regular interview, you want to know as much about the company as possible.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager questions in order to clear anything else up. Things such as how much time you’ll have, who you’ll be presenting to, their particular level of expertise and whether they’ll be colleagues or management will all factor into how you present the topic in question. Additionally, it shows the hiring manager that you’re a naturally inquisitive person who’s focused on the details, so don’t be afraid to enquire when you need to.
Structure things clearly
In both the creation and delivery of the presentation, you want to make the structure of it as clear as possible, but be able to thread your skills, achievements and qualifications into it in as natural a way as possible.
Use the opening to introduce yourself and the subject at hand. The middle is where you’ll argue the most compelling points, while the conclusion should tie things up in an impactful, memorable way.
Depending on the topic, present things as a series of problems and solutions. Demonstrate a challenge the company is currently facing or may face in the future, and outline potential solutions they could use to overcome these challenges. You want to be able to show them that you’re forward thinking and comfortable solving problems.
Use notes as a guide
When you create the slides for your presentation, they should be a series of bullet points you can then expand on through the use of speaker notes. Avoid using huge bricks of text in your slides, not only are they visually unappealing and ask too much of your audience, there’s a chance you might run out of time working your way through these dense chunks of information.
Instead, bring along some speaker notes that expand on your onscreen bullet points. They’ll help give the presentation a better flow and allow for a more natural delivery – providing you aren’t using it as a script. They should only be used as a guide that you can glance at every once in a while; by the time you start your presentation, you’ll know it like the back of your hand anyway (more on this later).
Practice makes perfect
Now your presentation has taken shape, you’re ready to practice. Whether it’s on your own or in front of people, practice it as much as you can. We’d even advise recording yourself, that way you can listen back to it and listen out for any areas you can improve on or perhaps remove entirely. Plus, it’ll give you a chance to correct any nervous habits you might have, like pauses and paralinguistic features like pitch and intonation. Identifying these instances will help you avoid them when it’s time for the actual presentation.
Anything you can do to recreate the presentation scenario is a good idea, too. You might want to dress in the clothes you’ll be wearing to ensure you’re comfortable delivering the key points in more formal attire.
It’s all in the delivery
From the second you start your presentation/interview, you should be focused on both your verbal delivery and how you’re carrying yourself. Dress professionally, be confident and don’t forget to smile.
As you’re delivering it, be mindful of your body language. Stay calm and composed and remember to rein things in if you’re becoming too animated; your waving hands can distract both you and others from the main message of your presentation. Make eye contact, it’ll help all involved become more comfortable, engaged and engrossed. Don’t forget to take some deep breaths before launching into a new slide, either.
Remember: the audience isn’t something to be feared. You’re there because they saw something in you and want to see you nail the presentation and succeed. They aren’t there to catch you out or actively make you feel nervous. Keep this in mind, it’ll help ease the nerves and enable you to deliver the presentation you’ve prepared so much for.
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