Four tips for giving your best interview presentation
5 min read | Karen Young | Article | Interview advice
Interview presentations can be a way for a candidate to shine, but they can also be nerve-wracking. Read on for advice on how to present yourself as the best candidate available.
Interviews are rarely a comfortable experience, but for some candidates a presentation can make the tension even worse. It’s one thing to prepare for some tricky questions, but giving a presentation as well – that’s less familiar territory for a lot of people.
As you progress into more senior roles in your career, presentations are likely to become more of a regular requirement in interviews. In fact, we are now seeing recruiters incorporating presentations for roles at entry level upwards. We recommend honing your presentation skills right away, to improve your interview success rate now and in the future.
To help, we have put together a short guide to presenting in interviews. We explain why employers use presentations, what they are looking to find, and how you can use the opportunity to wow them.
Presenting in interviews at a glance
Employers use interview presentations to seek proof of your abilities. They are looking to judge:
- if you have the necessary abilities for the job
- your communication skills
- whether you are a diligent person
- if you are organised
By taking the time to prepare a presentation that showcases each of these qualities, you will also prove your commitment and enthusiasm for the role. With this in mind, let’s look at how you can use the presentation to stand out from the crowd.
If you are considering taking a fresh step in your career, contact your local consultant for expert advice.
1. Prove you can do the job
The interviewer wants to feel confident in your ability to perform well in the advertised role. You need to use the presentation to demonstrate just that.
- Understand the task: Ensure you are absolutely clear on what is being asked of you from the presentation and how it relates to the role. Work with your recruiter. They will be in regular contact with your interviewer(s) and can help clarify anything you’re unsure of. Better to check now than not check at all.
- Demonstrate your skills: The presentation is testing for key competencies. Which competencies are these? Revisit the job description, highlight the required skills and incorporate these into your presentation.
- Do your research: Look at the business objectives of the company. For example, are there any major industry or company changes that would affect the way in which somebody would usually approach this assignment?
2. Demonstrate your written communication skills
You know what you want to cover during your presentation; now it’s time to think about how you are going to convey it. Even if it is not a core element of the role, writing skill will be central to many day-to-day tasks. Writing emails and assembling briefs, or giving presentations once you’re in the job! – these are just a few areas in which written communication proves crucial.
- Structure your presentation: The first slide should give an overview of the contents. An introductory slide could follow with an interesting fact, quote or statistic designed to grab the interviewer’s attention. Each subsequent slide should provide a topic headline and either a great visual or a few succinct bullet points to provide detail and talking points.
- Keep it concise: Presentation slides should read like road signs. They should contain enough information to get people’s attention, but not so much that they are distracted. A couple of lines per page is ample.
- Know your audience: You may be presenting to an interview panel with different areas of expertise. Research each of these areas to make sure that your presentation is engaging for everyone. Keep the language simple and avoid using too much jargon.
3. Confident delivery
A well-written presentation is one thing, but delivery is equally (if not more) important. Presenting clearly and in an engaging way is essential, as your interviewer will be assessing your verbal communication skills.
- Practise your delivery: Either practise your presentation with someone who can give you honest feedback, use a mirror, or simply recorde yourself. Critically assess how you match the indicators of confident communication. Time how long it takes you to deliver in practice, so that you don’t over-run on your time slot.
- Don’t read from a script: Instead, reiterate the key points from each slide, and then talk around them in more detail. If you practice what you are going to say beforehand, this should become much easier, but bring cue cards just in case. By making eye contact as you talk, you will engage the interviewers and build rapport. At the end of the presentation, sum up the key messages you want the interviewer to remember.
- Calm your nerves: If you get nervous when speaking to an audience, publicly, take steps to calm yourself in advance. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that the interviewers are just people – each of them has been in your shoes before. Interviewers are not trying to trip you up; they want you to succeed. Why else would they invite you in for an interview?
4. Show your diligence
The interviewer will want to see evidence that you approach tasks in an organised and conscientious manner. Your presentation is a great opportunity to demonstrate these qualities.
- Plan for the technology: Check in advance whether you will be using their devices or one of your own? Make sure you are comfortable in using the tech. Ask someone to check your slide deck (if using one) beforehand to ensure everything works.
- Bring a back-up with you: Even if you are presenting this slide deck on your own device, take a backup copy on your USB. Also email a copy, both to yourself and the recruiter to pass onto the interviewer. You should also bring printed copies to hand out to all of the interviewers. In the worst scenario this means you have a Plan B and could still deliver your presentation effectively.
- Stay conscious of time: Find out how long the presentation needs to be and make sure you don’t run over. When practising your presentation, remember to time it and leave room for questions at the end.
- Try to be on brand: Look at the fonts and colours on the company website and use these in your presentation. You could also try to find existing presentations and webinars on their website and match the format.
- Check and check again: From the formatting, to the layout, as well as the spelling and grammar – look at everything one final time. Ask somebody else to proof your presentation for you too.
What to remember about presenting in interviews
Presentations can be an effective way to convince prospective employers that you are the best candidate for the role. Yes, they are nerve-wracking and they require work and prep, but remember that every candidate is facing that challenge. By focusing on what you can control, staying calm and remaining focused, you can seize the chance to shine.
For further insight and advice on securing your next role, download our Ultimate Guide to Interviews.
About this author
Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance for UK&I. She provides strategic leadership to a team of over 300 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across nearly 100 offices. With 25 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a track record of recruiting top finance talent for businesses across a range of industry sectors, and is a trusted industry voice on recruitment, career planning and market insights.
Karen also leads development and delivery of social and environmental purposes at Hays UK&I. This focuses on how the business supports local communities with a particular focus on improving skills and employability, as well as steps to safeguard the natural environment. Karen leads a Hays UK Charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness focusing on strategic input to the employability element of the EYH Independent Futures programme, that supports young people into work and independent living.