Job interview tips: how to deliver presentations

Job interview tips: how to deliver presentations

An interview presentation is an ideal opportunity to showcase yourself and your professional achievements. Read our job interview tips below to find out how to deliver a successful presentation.

A presentation that is delivered well with the desired impact can certainly enhance your chances of success.  However, for many it is an obstacle that can have the opposite effect – due to nerves, lack of preparation and focus.  So it’s imperative to do the right sort of preparation to ensure that you get it right on the day.

There are different types of presentations that you can be asked to deliver in an interview.  You may be requested to prepare a presentation on a certain topic or a subject of your choice. For other interviews you may be put on the spot – and it is important that you are not ‘thrown’ by the request.

Planning the Presentation

If asked to prepare a presentation, careful planning beforehand will help you to deliver it with greater confidence and success as does preparing for an interview in all other situations too.  

Do your research on the company to get a good understanding of the corporate style and culture of the company, this will help you to tailor your presentation to the needs of your interviewer(s).  Check out the company website for information.  You may also be able to use the site’s search facility to discover more about the person or people who will be interviewing you.

Structuring your message

Decide on one main key message that you want to get across, this is like the spinal cord of the presentation – it helps hold the presentation together.  It also provides a high motivation for your audience to listen to you.

Your presentation should follow a clear structure – with a strong opening, main body and ending - as this will help you stay focused and avoid losing track of your thoughts if you are nervous.  

Your opening should capture attention at the start. It should clearly communicate your key message to your audience. Keep it succinct and punchy, using short sentences. A long rambling opening gives the impression that it is going to be a long rambling presentation.

Structure the main body of your presentation to three main sections. Three is an impressive number that people tend to remember things in. By restricting your presentation to three main sections, it will keep a sharp focus. You can then have sub- sections within each of the three main sections if you need to expand on your points.

Your ending should also be memorable. Use the opportunity to re-emphasise your key message and leave a lasting impression.

The Impromptu Presentation

You may be put on the spot and asked to give a presentation without prior warning.  For these situations, you need some form of standard structures in your head that you can call upon at very short notice.  

Power of THREE

Using the Power of Three is a helpful tool as well here.  Use three key words/phrases to help you create a quick structure in your head.

One example structure with three areas that you can use quickly if asked to present on a problem solving or strategic issue is:

1.       What was the issue?

2.       What did you do to resolve it?

3.       What was the outcome?

Chronological structures

Another structure you can use for impromptu presentations is:-

1.       Past

2.       Present

3.       Future

This is a useful structure for the “Tell me about yourself” presentation (or question) that is commonly asked at interview by describing your personal history under these three titles.

The STAR structure

Another similar structure to consider is S.T.A.R.  This has four steps to it.  

Situation - describe the context / background

Task - what was your responsibility?

Action - what did you do?

Result - what were the results of your actions?

The STAR structure is often used to help formulate responses to competency based interview questions - but can also be used to help provide you with a higher level structure for a slightly longer impromptu presentation.

Delivering a Presentation with Impact

Nerves can take over and hinder your performance.  Also – when you are nervous you are more likely to rush, and this will make you feel even more nervous.  To help control your nerves, take two deep breaths before you start, breathing out for as long as possible to help release tension and encourage you to slow down when you begin to speak.

To help sound more confident (even if you are not feeling it) take your time over each word you say, so that you don’t rush or snatch at any words.  This will help you to speak at a steady pace and allow your interviewer to follow quickly.  Pause at the end of your sentences – to help control your speed and allow yourself to take a breath before the next sentence.

Whether you are sitting or standing, ensure that your posture is both strong and comfortable.  Make eye contact with your interviewer(s) while speaking. The key time to look at someone is at the end of your sentence as this helps cement the message in that sentence. If you look away at that moment, you may appear hesitant, and your words will lack conviction.

As with most things, the more you practice something, the better you can become at it.  For the prepared presentation, you have the luxury of rehearsing beforehand so that you know your presentation very well. You can also prepare for the impromptu presentation, by giving yourself some topics to speak on and then allow say 2-3 minutes of preparation time for each one. Then try presenting on each of about 3 minutes.

It’s always a good idea to practise delivering your presentation out aloud beforehand. Don’t just go over it in your head.  Better still, get a friend or relative to watch your performance and give you some honest feedback.  Or, try and record your presentation on video so that you can review it yourself and then enhance some of the weaker parts.

How to Leave a Lasting Impression

Finally – try to enjoy your interview presentation.  At the end finish confidently with a smile - as this will send out the right signals to your prospective future employer that you are confident and enthusiastic about the job. 

Perform at the highest level possible in your interview and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of getting the offer.  

Good luck with your job hunting.  

Want to sell yourself successfully at your next interview?

You already know how tough the competition for jobs is right now.  In fact, it’s probably never been tougher. Even if you have a very strong CV you will only get the job offer if you can convince the interviewers that you are the best person for the job.