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How to sell yourself in an interview presentation
Depending on the nature of your role, and normally the seniority, you may be asked to give a presentation as part of the hiring and recruitment process. Not everyone enjoys public speaking so this requirement can be nerve-wracking.
But think of it as a positive: you're building and delivering the presentation, which puts you in control of the narrative. In addition, it can be a strong selling point if your presentation style, and the presentation itself, happens to blow your interviewer away.
Here are our top tips on how to sell yourself with a confident and winning interview presentation:
Confirm the brief
The brief for your interview presentation may be vague, perhaps even deliberately so. The ability to dissect and challenge a brief is a valuable skill, as it shows that you don’t just blindly follow instructions. But don't be afraid to ask questions, in order to avoid misinterpreting the purpose of it.
As a bare minimum, you should know:
- The topic(s) you need to present on
- How long you have to present for
- Preferred tools or data points to use and reference
- What tools you’ll be given to present with (for example a projector, a touchscreen monitor, or even an interactive whiteboard)
- Whether your interviewer(s) will ask questions during or after the presentation
- Who will be present at the presentation, and their knowledge level on the subject area
The last of these points is especially important. If you’re being interviewed by a hiring manager or board member, they may lack detailed knowledge of the topic in question. You’ll want to keep these presentations more top-level and free of technical jargon.
Conversely, if your interviewer is a sector specialist, it’s likely they’ll want you to drill down into the specifics and nitty gritty. Doing this will allow you to really flex your technical muscles.
Structure your presentation
Every presentation should tell a story. Decide on the key points you want to make – ideally, no more than two or three but do judge this against the time you’re given to present – and ensure every slide offers insight or learnings on these points. There’s no room for wasted words or irrelevant data; if a slide doesn’t further your narrative, be a tough editor and decide that it shouldn’t be included.
Broadly speaking, your presentation should incorporate a compelling introduction, followed by clear, data-backed arguments in the middle, and lastly a strong conclusion. But remember this is an interview, so you’ll also want to pepper it with examples to demonstrate your relevant hard and soft skills.
Keep your presentation concise
Each slide should be like a road sign, providing enough information to be useful, but not so much that it becomes a distraction. A common mistake – particularly among people with minimal experience of presenting – is to cram slides full of text, graphs, tables and screenshots, then to simply read it all out. Less is definitely more.
A good presentation should work without the visual elements; the slides should only be there to back up your arguments. If you absolutely need to include lengthy sections of text or graphs you’ll refer to throughout, print them off and hand them out instead.
Prepare notes, then practice your delivery
Even the best public speaker can succumb to nerves in the high-stress environment of an interview, so bring notes to jog your memory every now and again, and to keep you on point. Don’t rely solely on the technology either; it has a funny habit of malfunctioning when you need it most. Instead, make handwritten notes, flash cards or similar. And make sure you practice in front of an audience if you can before the big day. If you can’t find a willing spectator, do it in front of a mirror or record yourself with your phone and watch it back to pick up on potential stumbling blocks.
Review data, formatting and spelling
Do you think spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting won’t matter during an interview presentation? Think again. Interviewers are drawn to typos, ugly spacing and misplaced apostrophes like moths to a flame, so check your work – and ideally have another person read and check it, too.
Finally, ensure your data is rock-solid. Many promising presentations have been scuppered by a missing decimal point or inaccurate currency conversion. This could render your entire argument incorrect, so take particular care with your figures and be sure to include sources. If you’re referencing multiple studies and data points, consider detailing them in an appendix and circulating it as a handout.
For career support, get in touch with one of our expert consultants to discuss your career options.
RELATED: 5 ways to handle interview nerves