Presentation Skills For A Job Interview
Look like a good cultural fit
It is said that people make up their minds within the first 30 seconds. This may or may not be strictly accurate but first impressions do matter. So dress appropriately. Appropriately means like them - or at least for the job.
If you are going for a job as a manager look the part - I know someone who will not employ anyone with scuffed shoes.
People like people who are like themselves. Some organisations apply great rigour to their interview process to avoid the "people like us" issue but most tend to employ in their own image.
A suggestion: stroll past the door of the company at closing time and observe how people dress. At an interview it is appropriate to be a bit more formal but not too much. If in doubt err on the side of smart.
Read the interview brief or job advertisement and then read it again. List the job requirements. This is what you are likely to be asked about so prepare. When asked "what makes you a team player" your answer should be ready.
Note the language used in the job description and replay it in the interview.
If you have an opportunity, speak to the person interviewing you in advance. Ask "is there anything important that isn't mentioned in the ad". You may find out something useful.
And use the web to find out about the company or organisation.
Have a few ready answers
This is your chance to sound smart, fluent and considered. Some questions will be apparent from the brief, others tend to crop up regularly:
What skills do you bring to the job? Tell me about your current / last job? What attracts you to this company/this job? What experience do you have in...? What are your weaknesses?
Or, if there are gaps in your CV, what did you do between 2006 and 2007
Offer examples not assertions
Assertion can seem like empty boasting unless backed up with evidence.
If you are asked why you would make a good salesman, "because I get on well with people" is a weak answer because there is no substantiation.
Better is... "I find it easy to empathise with people; for example I have worked in a hospital helping as a ward orderly chatting to the patients, I was voted head girl and in my role as charity organiser I persuaded 50 people to buy a £50 ticket for..."
Put that presentation skills training into practice!
Smile. And smile again. No-one employs a grinning idiot but a smile every now and again says that you are easy to work with. Be sure to top and tail the interview with a smile.
Make lots of eye contact. Radiate positive body language: open body posture; leaning slightly forward. Be enthusiastic, but no wild gesturing. Don't slouch, it implies a lack of energy and avoid the too casual look that can come from leaning back with legs crossed.
Let the interviewer talk
Let the interviewer talk - people like people who listen. Give a subtle nod when the interviewer is talking. Don't interrupt them and if they interrupt you, let them speak.
And listen to make sure that you are answering the question asked.
Handle tough questions
If you don't have an answer then "I don't know but I'll get back to you" is a better response than bluff or waffle - most people do neither successfully and it is a big negative.
Work the room
Panel interviews are hard work because you are presenting to everyone. This means that you need to work the room, which can be difficult if it is one person who has taken over the role of questioner. Make eye contact with each person, share out the smiles and remember to address everyone with your answers. Move your chair if it helps you to talk to the panel as a group.
Easier said than done but nerves aren't necessarily a bad thing, they pump adrenalin around our body.
It is common when we are nervous to feel short of breath. While you are waiting in reception take some deep breaths. Take your time and if you feel your mouth getting dry then ask for a glass of water. If you do find yourself getting flustered or tongue-tied then remember to smile - it reduces the tension for the interviewer who may be sharing your discomfort.
Have your own question prepared
It is common for the interviewer to ask the interviewee if they have any questions. Have one ready and prepared
The admin bits
Trains run late, traffic jams and there is never a parking space when you are in a hurry. Leave yourself plenty of time.
Many big companies have several buildings, sometimes spread over several sites. Know where you are going and if in doubt, dry run the journey beforehand. Who is going to meet you? Have their number with you.
If you are running late then phone ahead to let them know. And when you arrive a simple "apologies for being late" will suffice - if you are a great candidate they will have forgotten in a coup le of minutes.