Interviews ? preparing a brief presentation

You are preparing for a job interview. You are anxious about how things will turn out during the interview. There are many questions that would have to be faced and you are more or less prepared to face them. It always helps to work out and have prepared a monologue regarding yourself in the form of a presentation. Most of the interviews start with the typical question ?''Tell me something about yourself''. Often, the interviewers would ask you to use two minutes or one minute and brief them about yourself.

Are you prepared for something like this? Can you ensure that you use this opportunity to create the best impression you could? Let us see what exactly you should do to use this opportunity to your best advantage.

1.Time your presentation ? remember if they say one minute or two minutes do not go into an unending discussion with details and have them cut you short or ask you to come to the point. A person usually speaks 100-200 words per minute and hence your self-presentation should not exceed this word limit (a total 400 words).

2.Be prepared to present yourself in the minimum of one minute ? though it usually would be about two minutes for a good presentation. You will have to write your presentation and say it aloud a couple of times (for practice) ? if possible record and play it back so you will see how your intonation/ flow sounds and time it as well.

3.When you practice with the presentation, it would be a good idea to ask a few friends to comment on it. The points that need to be observed are, your tone, your style of presenting (body language, the expression on your face, the movement of your hands, etc), language (clarity, vocabulary used, fluency and flow of the presentation) and of course, time. The following questions would need to be answered:

  • Is the presentation interesting, overall?
  • Am I able to present the highlights of my achievements and strengths accurately?
  • Am I matching my skills to the needs of the vacancy the interview is for?
  • Am I confident when I am speaking?
  • Do I come across as a poised person?
  • Is my style of speaking clear and loud enough, fast/slow enough?
  • Is the timing of the presentation correct?

4.The presentation might be required for each and every interview you appear. Though it would be wonderful to prepare a presentation exactly tailor-made for each and every interview, it might become a little tiring. The best would be to have your highlights drawn up into bullet points, which would then be molded as per the need ? type of job you are applying for, company goals, career growth. With a little practice, you will be able to speak well on every occasion.

5.In order to make the presentation sharp and effective, you will need to break up the timing into clear-cut-time-compartments:

  • about 20 seconds on your personal background,
  • the next 20 seconds focus on educational qualification and specializations and why you chose the line you did,
  • the next 20 second should zero in on your achievements and strengths in your past employment or during college/university;
  • follow this with 20 seconds on one/two particular achievements in line with the job you are applying (if you need to tweak it a little, do so),
  • the next 20 seconds focus on your future career plans and how the present job would fit into the larger picture;
  • lastly end it with a 20 second summarization on why you are here (this job and your proficiency would help you contribute to the company and your career goals in the most satisfying manner).

6.The overall impact of the presentation should ensure that the interviewer gained significant and relevant information about you in line with the job you are appearing for. If done correctly, you will already have created a positive impression even before the interviewer(s) ask you any other question.

7.You should be careful that you maintain a continuous flow and your presentation does not sound as if you have put a bunch of separate ideas put together. This is where the practice comes in handy. The presentation should come out like an engaging story ? the same as you would while introducing yourself to a prospective friend. This is where a recording and/or friends'' comments would be extremely helpful.

8.Be careful about the tone you are using. You should not be too loud or have too many breaks or ''hmmmmmmmm'' sound in between. Try to speak in a very confident tone ? to show that you are proud of what you are saying about yourself. Confidence is an extremely sought after quality in an employee and one that creates an instant positive niche in the minds of the interviewers.

9.The presentation is the opportunity you have to draw the attention of the interviewer(s) to the best of your strengths and away from your weaknesses. For example, you are highly qualified but have little experience ? you can highlight this facet and vice-versa. When you point out to your strengths, have ready a few ''stories'' of how you used it to the advantage of the past company (ies).

10.If you so need, you could use your bullet points to help you with the flow of the presentation. You could have your notebook discreetly on your lap and you could consult it while speaking. Most people feel nervous and forget or stumble at presentations ? however, when they know they have something to fall back upon (in the form of bullet points or notes) they feel more confident and can present better. Do not be shy to use notes if you feel nervous. If asked, reply that you did not want to miss any important detail out, and hence you came prepared with a few notes. Your candidness and care in preparation would be counted for you and not against you. However, if you practice well enough you will not to consult your notes ? just having them ready and with you would give you sufficient inspiration and nerve to speak well.