Interviews can be daunting at the best of times, but when asked to write a presentation as part of the process, most candidates are terrified at the prospect of talking at length about a particular subject. Following our advice on interview presentation should help you to feel a little more confident when standing in front of the interview panel.
1. Give your presentation a structure
A good presentation will usually be divided into 3 sections. The first should be a basic introduction outlining what you will be talking about followed by the main points in the larger middle section and summary at the end. Most presentations are offered in PowerPoint format. Be careful not to use the PowerPoint as a script – stick to bullet points and elaborate the points as you make your way through.
2. Dress rehearsal
Practice your presentation with family, friends, or whoever will listen! It will make you more confident in delivering your material and you may also receive feedback from others on how to improve the content or delivery of your presentation. Dress the part – a scruffy appearance will distract from the content of your presentation.
3. Slow down!
Nerves often make us talk far too quickly – be conscious of this and slow it down if necessary. Take deep breaths and try to speak as clearly as possible, avoiding rambling or making deviations.
4. Consider using visual aids
A typical presentation will last around 10 minutes or perhaps longer in some cases. If you are using PowerPoint, try to incorporate images and graphics into the presentation – anything too text heavy will leave the interviewer feeling bored. It is also a good idea to consider using hand-outs – this will add interest to your presentation and may also act as a welcome distraction whilst you take a minute to compose yourself.
5. Take questions
At the end of the presentation, be prepared for questions relating to the content of your presentation. As with any interview questions, take time to think about you answer and reply with the answer to the questions rather than the one you want to answer!
How to overcome your nerves
An interview for most people is a nerve wracking experience. There is an enormous pressure to impress your potential employer by saying the right things and demonstrating all your strengths in a relatively short time.
Preparation is essential in overcoming these inevitable nerves. Going to an interview unprepared will leave you flustered and will make you appear disorganised or uninterested. Always research the company website and job description and prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Also think about the type of questions that the interviewer may ask you. Typical first interview questions include ‘why do you want to work here?’, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’, and ‘tell me about yourself’.
If possible, try to arrange an interview in the morning, as this is the time of the day that you (and the interviewer) will feel at your most alert. It also means that you won’t have all day to worry about it, which in turn can make you even more nervous. Ensure that you have planned your route and your outfit the night before to save you rushing around in the morning.
Act confidently. A firm hand shake and looking the interviewer in the eye gives the impression that you are self-assured. Positive thoughts before and during the interview will help overcome those nerves. Also remember to control your breathing and take time to think about your answers rather than babbling.
An interview is a two-way process. Yes, they are interviewing you to assess your appropriateness for a job, but you are also interviewing them to see if the company and the job suit your needs and aspirations. After the interview, never dwell on anything that you did or didn’t say. Most candidates underestimate their own interview performance – a seemingly bad performance during an interview could land you the job!