Most Candidates and Hiring Managers think that an interview is a question and answer process. However, the best interviews consist of a combination of conversations, presentation, and questions. This article will focus on the presentation aspects of an interview.
Within an interview, candidates want to communicate their match with the critical job requirements, their fit with the company culture and how they can bring value to the organization. Most candidates hope they will be able to bring this information into the interview in response to questions from the interviewer. If the interviewer is skilled, they will typically be able to elicit most or all of this information. An unskilled interviewer will miss most of this information shortchanging the candidate. To assure all the important information is covered in the interview, the candidate can use a presentation to guide the interview and communicate why they are a good match for the position.
Using a presentation strategy, a candidate can either put together a well-crafted presentation they bring with them to the interview and go through from start to finish or find opportunities within the interview where they can give brief “mini-presentations”. Regardless, a candidate needs to develop a presentation as part of their interview preparation and then decide their presentation strategy.
An effective interview presentation, or any presentation, consists of a structure that frames the objective (presenting the reasons a candidate is the best choice), covers all relevant material, transitions smoothly from topic to topic, and finishes strong. In addition, it should be well organized, short, focused and relevant. A powerful interview presentation includes the following:
A purpose –
This is the one thing the candidate wants the interviewer to remember when they leave the interview. Typically, this is the same for any interview – based on my background, experience, skills, education and personality traits I am the best candidate for this position. An interview presentation can be introduced with this exact purpose. For example, “I have a presentation which communicates how my background, skills and experience match the critical requirements for this position and makes me an excellent candidate can I share it with you”.
Critical Information –
The most critical information in an interview is how well the candidate can perform the job. Performing well consists of doing the job tasks with high quality and getting along with others.The first piece of important information is the critical job requirements a candidate must do well to excel at the job. Thus, this becomes the first part of the presentation; “These are what I consider to be the critical job requirements for this position. I would like to discuss them with you to make sure we are in agreement about the requirements.” This aligns the candidate’s and hiring manager’s expectation and once there is agreement about the requirements, the rest of the presentation focuses on the match with the requirements.
Every person listening to a presentation is thinking, “How does this affect me or benefit me?” If there is no effect or benefit, the person quickly loses interest. Each item presented in an interview should be linked to a benefit for the hiring manager. For example, “You are looking for a person with experience in new consumer product introduction. In my last position, I introduced three mass consumer hardware products that accounted for $4.5MM in sales. As part of the introduction, I was responsible for consumer research, product development, marketing strategy and sales. As you introduce new products, I will be able to provide expert leadership in each of these areas which means that you will require fewer managers, save personnel costs and bring products to market faster”.
A written visual presentation (which makes an excellent leave behind) with all of the above elements plus good insightful questions, is the most powerful way to present in an interview. Candidates who have used interview presentations report amazing results and hiring managers are bowled over by their level of preparation, professionalism and organization.Even without a written document, developing an interview presentation as part of the preparation process is an excellent way to organize critical information that can be “presented” when the opportunity presents itself.
By thinking as a “presenter” a job candidate becomes an active participant guiding the interview as opposed to a passive participant hoping for the right questions.