11 tips for preparing a presentation as part of a job interview

More and more companies are asking for candidates to demonstrate their presentation skills, particularly for higher-level posts, or posts that will involve giving presentations on a regular basis. If you find yourself in a similar position, here are some tips that may help you.

Most of these tips can be applied to any type of presentation, but today we’re focussing specifically on presentations that are part of a job interview.

In some cases, candidates are given the material to present, though you might also be asked to use your own.

Here are my tips – do you have any to add? If so, let me know in the comments.

  1. If you’re using your own material, make sure you have checked it, or ask someone else to check it. Spelling mistakes or incorrect information on slides can be distracting, and you don’t want people to stop listening to you because they’re focussing on something that’s wrong with your slide.
  2. Don’t put all of your information on the slide. If the audience can read everything they need to know themselves, you’re not adding value by being there. Keep it to simple bullet points and key information – your job is to tell them what they need to know.
  3. If it isn’t your material, make sure you understand it. Do some research if you don’t understand something. Don’t be caught out because you didn’t do your research properly.
  4. Make notes, but don’t rely on them. It’s not a test of how well you can read from your notes. If you’re looking down all the time, you won’t be able to look at the interview panel, and also your voice won’t carry well.
  5. Know your audience, or at least the roles that your audience will be playing. Is it a presentation to introduce the company to people who have never heard of it? Are you being asked to demonstrate your specific knowledge of a project or issue to people who understand it well? Are you being asked to simplify a complex idea? Knowing this will shape the level of detail you give, how much you need to explain, and the level at which you pitch the presentation.
  6. Know how long the presentation should be, and try to stick to it. You’re likely to talk faster when you’re there, because most of us feel a bit nervous and want to get the presentation over with. Time yourself at home, so you know whether you have enough or too much material.
  7. Think about the type of questions you might be asked during or after the presentation, and how you would answer them. You can’t anticipate everything, but it’s good to be prepared.
  8. Try to be memorable – in a good way. If there are multiple people giving similar presentations, how will you make yours stand out? Is there a story, a memorable statistic, or a unique way of thinking about the issue that others won’t have come up with?
  9. Keep people engaged – how you do it is up to you, but think about things such as being interactive, being clear about what you want people to do at the end, and why the presentation is relevant to them.
  10. Your voice is important too –your great content will have no impact if you sound bored/your voice is too quiet/you are speaking too quickly.
  11. Try to smile. I don’t mean you should deliver the whole presentation with a grin like a Cheshire cat, but as well as looking more friendly and approachable, a smile can often be heard in your voice too. It’s easy to have a serious face for serious subjects, but as well as making you look more friendly, a smile can actually help you too. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which in turn can make you feel happier or reduce stress levels

So, do you have any more tips to add to this list?

Find out more

If you’d like more information about preparing for a job interview, you can visit my presentation training page.

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