With the job market more competitive than ever, employers are trying new strategies to differentiate applicants and ensure that they’re hiring the best person for the job.
Candidates are increasingly being asked to deliver a short presentation as part of the interview process. This exercise is intended to test your knowledge of your field, as well as your ability to manage information and communicate effectively under pressure. Essentially, it gives employers a flavour or what you’re capable of.
The prospect of delivering an interview presentation might feel a little overwhelming at first. As if demanding interviews weren’t nerve-wracking already, you’ve now got another thing that you have to get right.
Communicating messaging in an exciting and engaging way is no easy task, but don’t lose your head: follow the key steps below to craft compelling presentation content, nail the delivery and land the job.
1.) Don’t Let Nerves Get in the Way
Presentation anxiety is a normal response to the unknown, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of successful speaking.
Don’t let your nerves become a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you tell yourself that you’re nervous and imagine scenarios where things could go wrong, you’ll internalise these ideas and be more likely to make mistakes when you do present.
Try to focus on how excited you are to share your ideas and connect with your audience. Your conscious enthusiasm will shine through when you’re presenting, making you a much more engaging speaker.
2.) Give Messaging Proper Structure
Too many presenters go into the room armed only with vague ideas and a rough plan for where their presentation is going.
Think hard about the few key messages you want your interviewers digest and streamline your content to ensure it communicates them clearly, stripping away any unnecessary detail. Try to find out who your interviewers will be ahead of time, so you can tailor your messaging to their professional personas and priorities.
Dry lists of facts and figures are boring and won’t win you admirers, so structure your presentation as a compelling story instead. Implement an effective three-act structure with a clear beginning, middle and end: explain how things currently are, outline the employer’s challenges to drive interest and conflict, then provide a clear resolution that conjures a better and brighter vision of the future (with you as a candidate at the centre of that).
Treat your prospective employer as your customer and think of your skill set as the product; your presentation should sell the benefits of your expertise, providing opportunities for you to connect your skills and experience with their pain points.
Not only are narrative presentations infinitely more interesting, research shows that audiences are up to 40% better at retaining information when it’s structured in a meaningful way.
3.) Dress Slides for Success
Your interviewers will without a doubt note your appearance, but they’ll also be influenced by the quality of your slides – so it’s essential you make the right impression with your presentation visuals.
Before starting your presentation, plan each slide out onto individual sticky notes. The space limitations will provide an intentional restriction on how much information you can put on your slides, so that each can instinctively be understood at a glance.
You shouldn’t be loading your slides with information and bullet points – nothing makes audience eyes glaze over faster. Your interviewers will want to watch and listen to you, not read through walls of text. Treat slides as visual aids with minimalist copy so that they reinforce and enhance what you’re saying.
Put powerful, relevant imagery at the forefront of your presentation (check out sites like StockSnap and Pexels for beautiful, free stock visuals) and employ subtle animation to help your information flow along naturally.
Finally, follow the core PowerPoint design rules of contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity to lend your slides balance and uniformity.
4.) Focus on Being Authentic
A big part of interview success is gaining the trust of your panel and establishing credibility. You can use the presentation portion of your interview to help achieve this.
Practice your material so that you can deliver it with a natural, conversational tone. Maintain good eye contact throughout and address interviewers by name when they have questions.
Interact with your interviewers as your present – making them part of the discussion will deepen their engagement and make you appear more authentic: they’ll feel as if you’re speaking to them directly as opposed to reciting a script.
Unsure of what to do with your hands when presenting? Employ deliberate, controlled gestures to emphasise your points and keep them visible throughout. Showing them is a non-verbal method of establishing trust.
5.) Explain Things Simply
A paraphrase commonly attributed to Albert Einstein is that “everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler.” This expression has real value when it comes to presentations: you should try and explain your points as simply as you can without compromising any meaning or value.
The best presentations benefit from focus and clarity. This means keeping your language straightforward and avoiding waffle, tangents and corporate jargon – which only serve to erect barriers between you and your interviewers.
Take Steve Jobs, for example: he’ll be remembered as one of the great business communicators of our time because he spoke clearly in a way that anyone could understand. While his competitors were talking in technical terms like memory and processing speed, he was talking about how many songs you could take with you and how it’s easier to get things done.
6.) Anticipate Questions
The last thing you want after delivering a knockout interview presentation is to be caught off-guard by a tough question.
If you review your content carefully, you’ll probably be able to predict some of the key things you’ll get asked – so have some intelligent responses prepared ahead of time. You might be asked to justify your proposed course of action as opposed to an alternative, how you would alleviate potential risks, or how your recommendations fit into a wider strategy.
Remember that the Q&A section is actually an opportunity for you to talk about things you couldn’t fit in your main 10 to 15-minute presentation, so give it proper consideration and use it to your advantage.
Jonathan is Marketing Executive at Buffalo7, the UK’s leading PowerPoint presentation design agency. Its recent clients include UEFA Champions League, Sony PlayStation, the Guardian and Unilever.
For more information, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.