Your Career, Your Choices

It’s you they want to hire – not a PowerPoint

Q: I’ve to do a ten-minute presentation at a job interview in two weeks’ time – ‘how will you improve this company over the next three years?’ The problem is it’s my own job I’m doing it for. Well, not quite, but I’ve been acting in the position since my boss got ill eight months ago. She’s not coming back. I understand that have to go through a recruitment process, in fairness, but I’m finding it impossible to narrow down my presentation. I ran through it last night in front of my husband and, unbelievably, I spoke for 22 minutes. Any pointers? (RT, email ).

A: Being the ante-post favourite brings its own pressures, writes Liam Horan, Public Speaking & Presentation Trainer, Sli Nua Careers.

You can spend too much time looking over your shoulder to see who’s coming up on the inside. The problem with looking over your shoulder is that you lose sight of where you should be going.

You’ve got to clear your mind.

It sounds to me like you’ve written the first draft of three or four. You’ve got some stuff down on paper/screen, but it’s Edward Scissorhands time now.

Remember, you’re being asked to do a presentation on specific topic. So, focus on what you will do to be a success in th e job.

As the current, albeit temporary, incumbent, there is a real danger you will allow yourself to simply commentate on what’s been happening without creating any impact, or without a nod to the future. You may even try to justify your performance in recent months.

That is not the right starting-place.

The right starting-place is to outline to them what you will do when you get the job. The changes you will make, the new approaches you will deploy and the results you will achieve.

Use the past to show your credibility. “Because I’ve done the role for the last eight months, I have identified the following areas where I can make a difference in the coming months and years…”

Use the past to flesh out your credentials. But, ultimately, focus the presentation on the future.

You are clearly finding yourself bogged down in detail. This is another cul-de-sac to avoid. Remember, as I often say here in relation to job interviews, you are not delivering a monthly progress report to the board – you are outlining a vision, a manifesto, a plan of action for what you will do when you get the job.

Suggest, rather than exhaust, detail. Show them the high-level facts and figures they need to know – they are highly unlikely to digest copious detail anyway, so serve up only what they can handle.

The other candidates don’t feel a need to justify their performance in the role – because they haven’t been in the role. Use the fact that you’ve been doing the job as an asset, not a millstone around your neck.

Extricate yourself from the minutiae of the job and craft your vision for the position on its own merits.

The presentation is not the PowerPoint. The presentation is you. Embody the traits they are looking for in the successful candidate – knowledge, leadership, decisiveness, a desire to do the job and a clear vision for what you want to achieve. They will see that in your eyes, not on the screen.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Limerick, Tullamore, Sligo, Tralee and Cork. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway-office

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