If you have managed to negotiate your way through the preliminary selection processes and have been shortlisted for the final interview, you really need to get your act together so that you make the best impression on that day. Rather than putting your interviewers in the driving seat by allowing them to grill you, you could think of putting together a brief but forceful PowerPoint presentation about yourself and why you are more than suitable for the position applied for. Using a combination of visuals and text can be extremely effective for you to convey your capabilities.
What Will the Panel Usually Be Looking For?
Since you would have already submitted the details of your academic qualifications and your employment history, the panel will already be familiar with them. It is only because they have found your profile to be suitable that you have been shortlisted. At this stage of the interview, you need to prove to them that you are clear about your thought processes and that you are able to formulate a strategic perspective. The panel will also be keen to get a better idea of your communication skills, your ability to engage your audience, how well you manage your time, and have prepared for the interview. If this seems to be a tall order, make this your opportunity as others in the fray will also find it equally difficult to make an impression. Getting ready with a PowerPoint presentation that is structured specially to take care of all these points can give you an edge that can prove extremely valuable in getting you that coveted position.
Ensure Clear Messaging and Structure of the Presentation
Making a synopsis of the contents of your presentation is half the battle as it gives your audience a clear idea what to expect from you in the next few minutes. In just a few points indicate what you want to tell about yourself in the presentation and then follow it up by giving an outline of the main points that you are going to cover. Ensure that you structure the presentation logically as then this will allow you to present your arguments in the same fashion without getting lost. Make sure that that at the end of each chapter, you provide a one or two-line summary of your argument. The last slide of your presentation should invariably be a complete summary of your professional profile that suggests that you are the right applicant.
Make Your Presentation Lucid but Minimalist
Keep all the slides visually clear and steer clear of too much of text. Use a clean and professional-looking template for your slides so that your content does not float all over the place. You can access an internet resource like poweslides.com for a great selection of templates. Limit the number of slides to the bare minimum so that you are not constantly changing slides and interrupting the flow of thought of your listeners. If there are details that need to be shared for a better appreciation, make a handout and distribute it along with a copy of your presentation at the end of the session. Resist the temptation to use humor as a recurrent idea as it tends to destroy the professional stance of your presentation.
What most people forget about making presentations is that you are there to speak and clarify on what is being displayed on the screen. Consequently, they fill up a lot of details in the presentation and then stand back and try to read it aloud to their audiences. This can be an annoying experience for the interviewers as the process is necessarily boring and time consuming. It is usually far better to keep the contents of your presentation crisp without being sketchy. Give details in your commentary and encourage discussions at the end, without bombarding them with a mountain of information.
Time Management Is Crucial
Remember that interviewers will not give you unlimited time for your presentation. Usually your will be required to wrap things up in less than five minutes. It is thus vital that you use the time to your best advantage by having done your homework on the profile of the company and the industry it is in and its competitive environment. Content structuring is vital otherwise you may risk being cut off in the middle without having being in a position to make a good impact. Ensure you conduct rehearsals a number of times so that you know that you can be in the command of the situation without a time overrun.
Michael Stevens is a senior human resource consultant working for a prominent placement agency. He conducts a number of mentoring sessions for young graduates preparing for their first interviews. He advocates the use of PowerPoint presentations with templates from powerslides.com for effective impact.