It’s fairly common to be asked to prepare and give a presentation as part of a recruitment process. Your prospective employer is looking for evidence that you are the right person for the job. For them, of course, that’s a mix of work related skills as well other more subjective things like how you come across and whether you’re the right person to represent the company.
It’s crucial that you give the task the time, energy and attention it needs. If you aren’t going to put the effort in then you are wasting your time. And theirs by attending the interview. Seriously!
Understand what they're asking for
Firstly. It’s really important that you understand the logic behind why this task has been set. And really understand what the hiring manager is looking for from you. For some it might be about the depth of your research. For others it’s more about how you come across on the day. Read the instructions carefully and ask enough questions to make sure you know exactly how to approach this. This goes for the content as well as the format and delivery. Find out who you’ll be presenting to so that you can make sure you’re pitching at the right level.
Check facilities on site if you are planning on using technology. That way you’ll know what is already there or what you need to bring. Be prepared, there could be a technical disaster on the day so have a back up plan!
You may be asked to present on a subject of your choosing. In this case choose something that you are passionate and knowledgeable about. If the subject matter is irrelevant to the interviewer it’s likely to be your performance that is being judged.
Give yourself plenty of time to research and plan your content. Plan a strong opening and a strong close, allow 15% of your time for both of these, and the rest for the main content.
Use images if necessary but remember sometimes less is more. The same applies to the number of slides, if you chose to present using PowerPoint.
Once you’ve finished your presentation, read the brief and just sanity check that you’ve met the objectives one final time.
Practice the delivery and if possible practice in front of a friend or relative, just to make it feel more authentic and to get some honest feedback. Talk slowly, be clear and concise. Aim to come across as confident, look your audience in the eye and remember to smile now and again!
Use prompts if you need to but avoid just reading a script.
At the end it’s normal for your audience to ask any relevant questions.
It’s good practice to create a hand out and/or to leave a copy of the presentation for the interviewer (s) – make sure this is well formatted and has your name/contact details on.