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Presentation Interviews: What You Need To Know When Interviewing

Interview presentations are an opportunity for a prospective employer to gauge your communication, public speaking, and critical thinking skills during the job interview process. Sounds daunting? But with these 5 tips in mind, you will be better prepared to ace your next interview presentation.

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Jan 17, 2024
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Last updated on Nov 24, 2021

Presentation interviews are becoming increasingly common in modern-day hiring processes, particularly for management and executive-level roles. Understanding how to effectively prepare for a presentation interview can help eliminate interview nerves, bolster your confidence, and leave a lasting impression on prospective employers.

Continue reading to learn more about presentation interviews, including why businesses use them, how to best prepare for one, and mistakes to avoid on your big day.

What Is A Presentation Interview?

For starters, what is a presentation-style interview, and why do businesses use them? A presentation interview is a talk you deliver to a prospective employer as part of the hiring process. Employers use presentation interviews to evaluate your thought process and the way you communicate ideas. Presentation interviews often involve sharing a past project to demonstrate your transferable experience and skills.

Companies may invite future colleagues from cross-functional departments to your interview to evaluate how effectively you are able to communicate with diverse stakeholders. There’s more to an interview presentation than just your content and the words you say, though. “Interview presentations also assess the candidate's level of confidence, appraising their overall presence and how they carry themselves,” explains interview coach Paula Christensen.

What Is A Case Study Interview?

While your presentation interview may require you to highlight a past project, some employers will opt to instead use a case study interview that requires you to address a business problem or opportunity. Case study interviews are typically deployed to evaluate your ability to assess a business challenge and effectively present solutions to a target audience. 

Regardless of the format of your interview presentation, it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to simply check the boxes but also to highlight what sets you apart from other candidates.

What To Expect In A Presentation Interview

According to Christensen, “Companies are increasingly making presentations part of their hiring process.” However, they won’t surprise you with a presentation interview. She says, “The company will advise you ahead of time about parameters, including the time, topic, and other requirements.”

Although every company’s hiring process is slightly different, most presentation interviews require you to develop and deliver a talk via video conferencing or in person in response to a case study or prompt. Your presentation is an opportunity to not only demonstrate your knowledge and abilities but also to showcase your communication skills as well as your ability to effectively facilitate a meeting with diverse stakeholders.

How Long Should A Presentation Interview Be?

While the length of presentation interviews differs across companies, you will typically be allotted 20 to 30 minutes to present your talk, followed by the opportunity for interviewers to ask you questions about your presentation, work experience, and interest in the company. You will want to confirm how long your presentation should be with your recruiter or hiring manager and then ensure your presentation sticks within the allotted time.

How To Prepare For A Presentation Interview: 4 Tips For Success

Now, how do you prepare for a presentation interview and stand out from other applicants? Here are 4 steps to ace this opportunity:

1. Understand the parameters of your presentation interview.

Begin your presentation prep by scrutinizing the instructions provided to you by the company, as you want to get a sense of what’s expected during the interview as well as demonstrate your ability to follow directions. “Determine your audience and decide how you will make sure your presentation resonates with them,” says Christensen. You will then want to “adapt the content, style, and tone of your presentation accordingly.”

She also explains that you want to get clear on questions like, “Will this presentation be via PowerPoint, whiteboard, or handouts? How much time will I have to set up?”

2. Create your presentation outline.

Then, you want to develop your presentation outline. Christensen recommends a three-part framework for your outline: 

  • Introduction: Begin with a quick outline of who you are and what you are presenting to grab your audience’s attention quickly.
  • Body: Move to the main content of your presentation.
  • Conclusion: End with a brief recap of your presentation and a call to action that leaves a lasting impression.

As you develop your interview presentation, Christensen says it’s important to not include too many slides or too much information.

3. Inject your fabulousness into your presentation.

Next, you want to add your fabulousness to your presentation. Christensen says that you want to make your presentation memorable and engaging and recommends including stories. “Our brains light up when we hear stories, and they improve our ability to listen and recall information,” she explains. “By sharing a personal story or experience, you demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity, which helps build a deeper connection with your audience.”

Christensen also advises that you incorporate examples, statistics, and relevant data into your presentation to support your points. According to her, “Citing hard evidence helps make your information more credible and convincing.”

4. Practice, practice, and practice some more.

Finally, you want to carve out ample time to practice, but not memorize, your presentation, as your goal is to come off as rehearsed, but not scripted. “Practice your presentation until you feel completely comfortable with it,” says Christensen. “You want to know your topic inside and out.”

Christensen recommends simulating the exact interview situation as closely as possible. If you will be delivering your presentation standing, for instance, be sure to stand while you’re practicing. Similarly, you’ll be in front of a live audience, so try to practice with friends, family, or an interview coach.

“The more you practice your presentation in front of others, the more polished and confident you will be,” she adds. “We all sound eloquent in our own heads, but it is not until we verbalize our answers that we learn our responses may not be as great as we thought.”

Final Thoughts On Acing Your Presentation Interview

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a boring presentation or dry interview. Christensen suggests using a conversational tone, engaging your audience, and making your presentation interactive. “Ask questions and create a dialogue. This will help to break down any barriers between you and your audience and keep their attention.” You’ve got this!

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder, tech career coach, and interview coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

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