Preparing for a Presentation InterviewDec 06, 2021
If you are creating a presentation for an interview, there are several items to consider. These tips can also be helpful when preparing for case study interviews and even your behavioral examples.
There are so many concepts to consider here, but the first and most important detail to focus on is how you are getting your information from your point of contact (P.O.C.). Whoever your point of contact is (Recruiter, hiring manager, etc.), you have to be proactive. The key question you must ask them is “What will success look like in this presentation?”
Also, you have to know your audience for the presentation. Are they technical or non-technical? Are they your peers or are they on the executive level? And, are they playing themselves? This last question is important. They may want to hear the presentation as if they were a potential client or vendor, and therefore you should structure your presentation to the appropriate “audience.” Likewise, you need to know your own role in the presentation. Are you presenting as yourself or as someone in a specific role in the company?
The goal before your presentation interview is to gather as much information as you can about the meeting. This will help you get more prepared and put together the most effective presentation. Here are 4 more items to cover in the information-gathering stage:
- TIME—How much time do you have for the presentation?
- SETUP—What is the setup/format for the presentation?
- CONTENT—What content needs to be covered?
- RESEARCH—What research are you doing to prepare the presentation?
I want you to get as much advice as possible from people in the arena. Remember, always start with your point of contact (P.O.C.). Lastly, you can also find external contacts to find advice. Use resources like LinkedIn to find people who can offer knowledge and guidance about the company, position and presentation expectations.
Item #3—It All Matters
You will want to explore everything that is given to you before your presentation interview. Some items may seem minor or trivial, but don’t overlook anything. It all may be useful and important. There is a reason an interviewer might mention a specific subject ahead of the meeting. Take that to heart and use every piece of information to your advantage. For example, you are told Joe has worked at the company for five years. It may seem minor, but maybe the product was released four years ago, this would mean Joe would have a lot of knowledge and understanding of the product area, and you would want to keep that in mind during your presentation.
Item #4—Content (High Level)
The structure should be shared by your contact well in advance of the interview, but there are certain high-level structural components you will want to follow in any presentation:
- Introduction—Briefly set up the presentation and what you are planning to talk about, while also getting them engaged by showing your own enthusiasm. Set the tone for the presentation from the start.
- The Middle—Now, you will go over all the necessary information and details you need to cover in the presentation. We’re talking about the research, data, strategies, execution, results and everything else that is relevant to the topic.
- Close—The end should focus on an action plan and a summary of the information and ideas that you have shared in the presentation. Then, you will close it out with your ultimate pitch. If your presentation is designed to sell something, you need to close the sale as your final step.
Item #5—Content (Slides)
The best advice I can offer here is less is more. If you put too much information on the slides, the audience will start reading the slides and stop listening to you. Minimize the content you put on each slide and utilize more visuals to punch up the presentation. Keep your slides succinct and visually pleasing. You should also aim for consistency with your slide presentation. Use the same fonts, header sizes, spacing, outline formats (bullet points, letters, numbers), colors and graphics to make your presentation look professional.
Item #6—Body Language, Pitch & Tone
I talk about these a lot because they are so important to any interview. You must display a positive attitude and energy throughout the presentation. Most importantly, you will be standing when you give your presentation. Keep smiling, maintain eye contact with your audience members, keep your tone positive and slow down to avoid speaking too fast.
Change your mindset from “giving a presentation” to “facilitation.” You are not just presenting to an empty room. You have to make it engaging and interactive. Remembering to facilitate rather than present is a great tip to help you make a more meaningful impression with your audience. Even if your audience never responds, continue to bring them into the conversation.
Item #8—Stay on Track
It’s easy to get distracted during a presentation, especially if there are any interruptions and questions from your audience. Some interviewers will actually try to intentionally throw you off. Do your best to maintain composure and stay on track with your presentation. Save Q&As for the end. Keep your thoughts focused and organized. Even if there are interruptions and delays, you can jump right back into your speech without hesitation. Remember it is critical that you save time to go back to those questions if you tabled any of them!
Of course, it helps to practice your presentation. I recommend doing it in front of at least three different people. Find someone technical, someone non-technical, someone who completely understands the topic and someone who doesn’t know much about it. Practicing your presentation in front of different audiences will help you dial in your content and speech before your real presentation interview.
Scheduling is very important. The more time you have to prepare your presentation, the better. Ideally, you want to have at least a couple weeks/weekends to do your research, prepare your slides and rehearse your speech. You may not always have this luxury, but do what you can to schedule the presentation interview in a timeframe that works best for you and satisfies the interviewers. Use any time you do have to prepare and practice.
These are some of the key tips for presentation interview preparation. You can watch my full video on this topic below: