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How to present during an interview

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 25 Jan 2023

Presentation engineering job hunting

Interviews can feel nerve-wracking enough, without adding a presentation into the mix. Presentations are usually requested in the 2nd or 3rd interview, but it can feel overwhelming when first asked. However, it doesn’t need to feel this way. Interviews often have many different elements to them, and you can only get better and gain experience by taking part. You may have been asked to do a presentation during an interview before, or this may be your first time. Either way, we have some tips and advice on what you can do to have a successful interview. 

What is an interview presentation?

As you progress through the interview stages, employers may ask you to conduct a presentation. There are many different reasons and subject matters you can be asked to present on:

  • You may be asked to do some research and present your findings
  • Business plans 
  • A presentation to show what you are planning to do if you get the role
  • Share more about you - your experience, learning and why you want the job

Whatever the subject matter, it’s important that you arrive at the interview prepared and ready to discuss. When interviewers ask for a candidate to present, they are usually looking for knowledge, skill, and confidence. Make sure you have notes, images, graphs, or whatever you think you need to support your presentation. 

PowerPoint presentations

PowerPoint can feel like a failsafe, and they are a good starting point for presentations. However, there is a time and a place. You want to aim to have an engaging presentation, one where you get the interviewer involved and asking questions. If you do choose to use PowerPoint, there are plenty of ways you can spruce it up and make sure the interviewer(s) are engaged with your presentation. 

  • Leave room for them to engage with you - don’t just speak in one big chunk of dialogue
  • Make your slides thought-provoking - are they going to be interested in what you’re saying?
  • Keep it relevant – Try not to go off topic
  • Ask them questions to include them
  • Less is more

Your goal is to do everything you can to display your knowledge and show the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job, but ensure you are doing it in a way that shows off your personality as well as skill. 

Understand why you are being asked to present

Knowing why you are presenting can help the how feel a lot easier. What are they asking of you? Depending on the subject matter of your presentation, outline the key points you want to get across before you start compiling your data. For example, if you are sharing a presentation on why they should choose you for the role, think about what they are going to want to hear. 

  • Your background experiences
  • Your skill set - both hard and soft skills
  • Your motivations for the role
  • What you want to achieve if you are given the job
  • A bit about you, yourself and what you are like

No matter what the topic, they are trying to see if you will be a good fit for their team, you have the skills and you are confident in the way you talk and present yourself. More often than not, presentations aren’t about just the presentation skills, they are there used for multiple reasons. As long as you understand why you are giving a presentation, it can help settle the initial nerves. 

How do you prepare for a presentation?

Similar to the point above, understand why you are presenting before you start planning and producing work. Have a good understanding of what information they are looking for and how you are going to present your findings. A good place to start is to begin taking notes. Write down any initial thoughts and ideas that may come to mind. The worst thing is having an idea and forgetting it because you didn't note it down. Presentations are a good opportunity to showcase yourself and knowledge, so lists are there to make sure you don’t miss anything out. 

Once you have your presentation, it can be a good idea to practise before presenting. Read your presentation out loud, to yourself, others or even record yourself presenting. This can allow you to see if anything doesn’t make sense, if you’re talking for too long or can even help you think of ways to improve it. Presenting to family and friends is also a good idea as they can give you feedback to things you may not have noticed or thought of. It also gives you time to feel more confident in what you’re saying. You need to believe it for the interviewer to believe you. 

What should you include?

Set a time limit - It can be easy to get ahead of yourself and pack too much into one presentation. Especially if the idea of presenting in interviews is new to you and you aren’t sure on time limits.  Try to make sure it’s a comfortable length for you, make sure all your points are covered but you aren’t pushing for time. Interviewers will often give you a time limit to prepare for. 

Be on brand - If possible, try to stick to the brand of the company you are interviewing for. You should understand a bit about their brand from your pre-interview research and adding this in would be a nice touch. 

More than just words - It’s key to keep the listeners engaged. A good way to do this is to add multimedia. Examples can include images, video, charts, and anything else you think may be of interest. 

Focus on your main points - The topic of your presentation should be re-visited throughout. When you begin and finish the presentation, go back to your overriding point, and make sure to ask if they have any questions. 

Top tips for presenting

  1. Pace yourself - talk confidently and remember to take a breath
  2. Don’t just read the slides - practice and remember what you are saying
  3. Be engaging - talk to them, not at them. Get them involved and be prepared to answer questions
  4. Make sure you have a back-up - if tech fails you on your interview day, have a back-up way of presenting and show them how prepared you are
  5. stay within the allocated time - this is where practice comes in!

Interview presentations can be a lot to take in at first, especially if it’s new to you. Try not to worry and focus on what needs to be done. Take the time you need to not only prepare, but practice well in advance. Job seeking can have many surprises, but it’s how you handle them that ensures your success.