Is it unrealistic to be asked to create and deliver a presentation as part of your interview process?  If the employer is looking to fill positions which require strong communication and presentation skills, then requiring you to create and present a slide deck is an excellent idea.

Why? 

  • They may be looking for your specific knowledge on a particular subject / topic.
  • If the role requires presentation skills, they want to see you ‘in action’ in order to assess your presentation style and capabilities.
  • Interviewers will also assess a variety of wider, transferable skills when viewing your presentation such as:
    • Your research skills: Did you provide a detailed yet balanced view of the topic?  Did you conduct sufficient research to come to a sensible conclusion to present? If you referred to someone else’s work or research, did you give appropriate credit?
    • Your preparation and organizational skills: Was the presentation well planned and well structured? Were the conclusions clear, or alternatively, confused and irrelevant?
    • Your ability to follow instructions: Did you understand and execute the original instructions?  Did you use the template or format provided?
    • Your ability to handle pressure: Were you excessively nervous during the presentation? Did you handle the question-and-answer session with grace and confidence?  Did you come across as competently knowledgeable on the topic without sounding arrogant?
    • Your time management skills: Did you keep to the allotted timeframe while appropriately focusing on the topic?
    • Your speaking capabilities: Did you properly (and positively) engage your audience?  Were your language skills solid?  Did your tone have appropriate inflection and was your enunciation clear?  Did you practice acceptable voice projection, make eye contact with audience, etc.?
    • Your technical knowledge: Have you confirmed the venue and are you sure that you know how to share your screen (or work the equipment if face-to-face), utilize the slide software, navigate the slides while sharing your screen, etc.?

How should you prepare for your interview presentation?

  • Know your audience: Be sure to have researched the company, including any recent press releases, social media posts, and products or programs that you may be working on.
  • Research the topic, considering your audience: Make sure you are thorough and detailed, thoroughly conducting a fact-check to make sure there are no errors in your content.  Also remember to give credit to others if you have used their material in your presentation. And lastly, consider your audience’s roles and potential interest when fine tuning your content.
  • Make speaking notes…but try not to refer to them. Effective presenting is about audience engagement, so making eye contact and encouraging conversation on the topic should be your priority.
  • Practice your delivery: We recommend that you practice in front of a test audience and ask for their feedback.  It is also recommended to record yourself in order to review your pitch…you will likely be your toughest critic. Keep the above points in mind as you consider your feedback.

How to deliver your presentation

  • Video tips: We have a couple of blog posts that can help you prepare for video interviews as they can be tricky.
  • Why you should never refer to your notes while presenting:
    • Audience engagement is critical so your priority should be connecting with your interviewers. Make eye contact (to the camera if on video) and ask questions.  Fostering conversation and involvement is much more difficult if you are referring to notes.
    • You want to come across as an expert in your topic. We tell our candidates to put together speaking notes for their presentations, but then do whatever you can to avoid referring to them.
  • One last thought: remember that even when you are sharing your screen, most video programs will also enable the participants to still see each other.  Keep your eyes on the video screen, not your notes, side boards, other people in the room, etc.  Be engaged and hopefully your audience will be too.

What happens after the presentation?

Good Interview Presentation practice dictates that a question-and-answer session is included in the end.  Why?  To prove to the audience that you know what you are talking about rather than having simply rehearsed and/or memorized a load of information to present.  Be ready for a Q&A session, embrace it, be yourself and win the position.