How to nail the presentation task during an interview process

Preparing a short presentation for the second or third stage of the interview process has now become common practice and a good performance is crucial if you want to beat the competition and get an offer.

Far too often I’ve seen senior candidates sail through the first few stages but fall at the presentation hurdle. For candidates 70K+, the employer needs to know that you can do the big as well as the small stuff with ease. Similarly, if you’re worth 100K+, but you can’t deliver a good presentation, articulate a strategy or answer a simple question, then how can you lead a multi-million dollar P&L alongside a large team?

In my previous digital career, I would write and deliver presentations weekly to small and large audiences, and I now coach all of my candidates on this vital stage. Critiquing and feeding back on all aspects of their performance.

So here are my top tips to producing a great presentation and delivering it like a pro:

Put the time and effort in

Preparation is key. The more prepared you feel, the less you’ll buckle under pressure.

“What you put in is what you get out”.

Answer the question

It might sound obvious, but this is one of the biggest reasons for people failing this crucial stage of the process.

Really focus on answering the specific question(s) set out in the task. Don’t go off on a tangent. Don’t skip over the questions or talk about something else that interests you more.

The interviewer wants to see that you can respond to a specific challenge.

Double and triple check that you have addressed and answered exactly what they’ve asked.

Know your content

Keep it simple and refine your presentation over multiple revisions. Really get to know the story you’re trying to tell, and feel comfortable with the journey you want to take the audience on.

If you don’t know your content off by heart, then you’ll stumble, lose your train of thought and it will undermine your confidence.

The best presentations are those that are delivered with passion, insight and knowledge.

Focus on strategy, not tactics

This is the second biggest mistake candidates make. Unless you’re applying for an operational or executional role, the client is going to be looking for a strategic response.

If you’re in the running for a senior 100K+ marketing role, then the client will be looking to see that you can formulate a strategic view point and plan. Many candidates go straight to the minutia of tactics, channels, and executions.

A Marketing Director or CMO wants to see that you can come in, build a strategy, articulate it confidently and then talk about how you would activate it.

Spend the time talking about solutions, not problems

If your task is to review a competitor brand, product, campaign or activity and make recommendations, then make sure you spend the bulk of your time sharing your suggestions for improvement.

Don’t spend 80% of your presentation pulling apart the competition’s work and laughing about how terrible it is (that’s the easy part), and then leave one slide for your recommendations.

Instead, clearly point out the areas which you think could be improved upon (20%) and then spend the bulk (80%) of your presentation talking about the great ideas, solutions, strategies, and recommendations that you think could make it better.

Remember, this task is about selling yourself; the way you think, articulate and present your ideas.

Keep it simple

If you over-complicate your presentation then the audience could get confused, lost or just switch off.

Keep it simple, focused and engaging.

Make it visual

They say a picture can tell a thousand words, so make sure your images support the story you’re telling.

People buy with their eyes, so if you deliver a presentation full of words on a slide, then the audience will just switch off.

There is no right or wrong answer

This isn’t a test with only one right answer. Employers are evaluating your ability to analyse and answer a question, formulate a strategy, develop ideas, write a presentation, engage an audience and present confidently.

They’re going to be reviewing all 360 degrees of you, so focus on all aspects of the presentation.

Practice, practice, practice

This is the most important part. Never go into a presentation cold and do it on the hoof.

You may be a seasoned and confident presenter but that doesn’t mean you should wing it! The more you practice, the better and more fluid you will get at delivering the key messages with maximum impact.

Time yourself to ensure you’re within your limit.

Share and present it to other people; even your harshest critic as they can make you focus, give you clarity and point out where you can make improvements.

You’re going to be doing this day-in, day-out if you get the job, so start as you mean to go on. And remember – enjoy yourself!

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