Interviews and Presentations

Preparing for an Interview

There are two things to do to prepare for the interview. First, carefully cross-match your CV against the employee specification and job description so that you can confidently describe how your qualifications and experience qualify you for the post. Reflect on your experience and think how you would be able to transfer it to meet the demands of the new job. Think about the strengths and qualities you would bring to the post. What evidence do you have for saying you have these qualities? Think about your weaknesses. Can you cite examples that show you are aware of your weaknesses and have learnt strategies for overcoming them?

Second, you need to research the company carefully so that you can demonstrate that you are serious about wanting to work for it. Focus on your potential new role but be aware of the wider organization. Your Essential Recruitment consultant will be able to brief you.

Preparing for a Presentation

If your interview includes a presentation you will have been advised in advance what the subject is and how much time has been assigned. You should also be told what facilities are available, for example, overhead projector or Power Point.

The purpose of a presentation at an interview is to see how well you can communicate ideas and information. The most common mistake in giving a presentation is trying to cover too much material. Aim to present your content in no more that 10 or 12 slides – fewer if the interview is under ten minutes. Your first slide should give your name, the title of your presentation and the date (one slide). Next you should provide an introduction outlining what you want your audience to know or understand at the end of the presentation (one slide). The main content will come next (seven or eight slides) and then there should be a conclusion that summarizes what you have covered (one slide).

Do not clutter the slides with a lot of text. Aim for about three or four bullet points per slide. If you are using Power Point, do not use complicated and distracting slide transitions. Make sure your presentation is working perfectly, with all text entering at the right time.

It is a good idea to prepare handouts from your presentation.

Dress Code

Always dress conservatively. Even if you find your interviewer has dressed casually, you will not be faulted for showing that you have made the effort to dress smartly and are prepared to observe normal business conventions. Dark suits and well polished shoes, clean fingernails and tidy hair will all be noticed. Keep jewelry to a minimum and plan what you will carry – you will get flustered if you find yourself juggling bags, organizers, brief cases and umbrellas while you try to shake hands. Knowing you are well dressed will boost your confidence: realizing too late that you should have worn a suit will drain it.

Find out where the interview is to take place and plan your route. Allow yourself plenty of time. Arriving late will almost always be taken as a sign of discourtesy and a lack of professionalism.

At the Interview

It is unusual to be interviewed by only one person, especially for a senior position, so be prepared to meet a panel of people; with panel interviews, one person will normally make it clear that he or she is chairing the interview. Smile and make direct eye contact as you are introduced. Always give a firm, confident handshake.

A good interviewer will generally help break the ice by starting with an open-ended general question, perhaps about your journey. Keep your answer light-hearted but short. Make sure you are seated comfortably and that bags or document cases are tucked away where they will not cause distraction. Be aware of your body language: don’t fold your arms or cross your legs; sit upright and keep your head up; maintain friendly eye contact.

Listen carefully to questions and never interrupt. All questions have a purpose. Some are asked to establish how you react in different situations and others may be used to see how you can think on your feet and marshal an argument. Try to give clear, straightforward, succinct – but not terse – replies. Remember that the interviewer is interested in your role in various situations and will want to know how you acted and what the results were. If you do not hear a question properly or think you have misunderstood it then ask for it to be repeated. A good interviewer will know not to ask questions that will require you to keep too many mental balls in the air but if you find you have lost the thread of your argument then ask to be reminded of the question.

The interviewer will probably begin to close the interview by asking if there are any questions you would like to ask. Make sure you have prepared some and don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything you are unsure of.

Essential Recruitment (UK) Ltd,
26th Floor, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza,
M1 4BT

Tel: 0161 738 1133

Fax: 0161 247 8576