Job Interviews & Workplace Presentations

A reader recently asked about the parallels between job interviews and workplace presentations. As a bit of background, one of my sustaining clients is an outplacement firm, where I serve as a part time career coach. I’ve also done hundreds of pro bono workshops for area job seeker groups on the topic of interview communication skills. Here’s a brief summary of some the Best Practices I typically share:

  • Like a public speaker, interviewees are ‘on stage’ from the moment they get into the company’s space until they leave. Obviously, they need to be on their best behavior during the entire time in the building and even the parking lot.
  • Treat each answer to each question as a mini-presentation. It ought to have a good, brief intro; a body with very specific content and clear structure; and a conclusion.
  • For instance, consider one of the typical questions interviewees get – ‘What are your key strengths?’ Your introduction might begin, ‘As you can tell from my resume, I bring a number of skills and strengths to this opportunity. Let me briefly highlight three important ones for this position – A, B and C.’ (This tells the interviewer that you’re not going to tell him or her a lot about what they already know). That’s the 10-15 second introduction.
  • Then, move into the body of your ‘presentation’ with specific details and brief examples for each one. Choose those strengths you know the company is seeking for the particular position that you can easily document. This shows that you’ve done your research into the opportunity and that you know what the job is all about.
  • Remember, the body of the presentation is NOT an invitation to tell the poor interviewer everything you want to tell them about you. Instead, this is your opportunity to provide a concise, focused answer of what they need and want to know.
  • Finish with a brief summary of your answer, ‘So, as you’ve seen, of all the strengths I bring to this opportunity, three very important ones for the job are A, B and C.

Remember that the job offer doesn’t always go to the best-qualified candidate. Often, it goes to the qualified candidate who interviews best. And one indication of a great interviewer is short, focused and structured answers to every question.