Make them want you with a sparkling presentation

Q: I have been asked to give a ten-minute presentation as the start of the second interview for the job. I have never done anything like this before. It’s an online interview, just to complicate matters. Any tips? (FG, email. )

A: The beauty of a presentation as part of a job interview is that it gives you a period – in this case ten minutes – that you completely control. It allows you to present a coherent view of the role and your suitability to fulfil it. Think of the presentation challenge as a good thing and use it wisely, writes Deirdre May, Career Coach, Slí Nua Careers.

We used to say that the audience could leave – literally or metaphorically – at any moment and it’s your job to hold onto them – now, with Zoom and Teams fatigue, we argue that you should think of your audience as already lost, and you have got to retrieve them.

Aim to achieve a few key goals

Create early impact

Don’t spend five minutes building up to the big point. Hit them between the eyes at the very start with a strong statement – a perceptive insight about the role, for example. People get things quickly. The sooner you say something of interest, the more likely you are to hold onto them.

Inspire them

Interviewing is a tiring enough job, but online, it is a whole other ballgame: they don’t meet their fellow panellists, grabbing a cup of coffee or lunch with them. They don’t even shake hands with the candidates. In this environment, a panel can so easily switch off.

If they interview seven people on the day, chances are five of the seven will play it safe – predictable beginning, middle and end; steady as she goes – nothing wrong but nothing great either.

Don’t be the safe player. Sell them something that excites them. Let them see that appointing you would be a wonderful decision. Faint heart n’er won…

Avoid telling them what they already know

The standard approach most people take when preparing a presentation is to start with a ‘current situation overview’ – in almost all cases, it is yawn-inducing. If they know, and you know, the key facts and figures, breeze through those and get to the parts where you can show that you have ideas, experience, knowledge and training to fit the bill.

Remember, they can read the slides

In fact, they will have each slide read within seconds of it appearing on the screen. If you spend the next two minutes reading back to them what they have just read, you are wasting valuable time – not to mention boring them.

Think of the slides as a complement to what you are saying, and vice versa. Between what they read, and what you tell them, make the maximum use of every second.

Don’t forget that there is a full interview after the slideshow

You must prepare for that as well, particularly focusing on questions that may be prompted by your presentation. While a good presentation has the effect of getting the interview off to a wonderful start, be careful not to lose the ground you’ve made early doors by being poorly prepared for the interview itself.

Slí Nua Careers ( ) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit


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