Blog articles covering interview practice.

Interview presentation

For my next job interview I have to make a five-minute presentation. Will it be OK to use notes?

Yes, it will be OK to use notes (unless you have specifically been told you must present without them) but they must be discrete (not a thick pad of A4) and you should be so well-prepared  that you should only need to refer to them occasionally.  The best way to prepare is to practise your presentation over and over again until you know it really well and you have the timing right.  If you are using Powerpoint, then the slides can act as prompts but don’t rely on this.  Always be prepared to present without any aids just in case the equipment fails or isn’t available after all. The best notes are probably still those little index cards as they will fit into your pocket or bag and can be held in your hand.  I suggest you punch a hole in the corner and fix them together with a Treasury tag – sounds really old-fashioned – but it works. If you drop them they won’t go out of order and you can also flip them over as you go.  I can help you structure and practise your presentation – using video if required – and we can make sure ‘the words, the music and the dance’ (content, tone and body language) are all at their most effective!

I don’t think I want to see myself on video when I come for a practice interview

Question: I don’t think I want to see myself on video when I come for a practice interview – it’s going to make me feel worse – why do you suggest it?

Answer: Using the video is entirely optional – some people go for it and some just won’t entertain it!  It is up to you.  I suggest it for some circumstances because I think it will help.  Don’t forget, we are not just looking for faults and areas for development – we also look for the things you do well and this can really boost your confidence.  I often like to show people clips to convince them of how well they are doing – because sometimes they don’t believe me when I tell them – they want proof!

You offer practice interviews. How do you help me with technical questions and what are practice interviews like, generally?

Well, I obviously can’t be an expert in all subjects for university and college courses and all jobs – so I research the technical area and develop my own bank of questions.  This enables me to ask you technical questions and gives you practice thinking about how you would answer them, succinctly and with examples.  I can’t test the content of your answers (in other words whether you are technically right or wrong or have given a valid opinion), but I can feedback to you how you answer questions and the impression you are making.  You will also know yourself, from our dry-runs, whether you are as well-prepared as you should be and it will highlight areas to brush up on. I always encourage applicants to set up a separate practice with someone who is a subject specialist. More than anything, though, practice interviews are vital for developing confidence and managing nerves.  However ‘relaxed’ the interviewer tries to make it for you, you are still under the spotlight and are the centre of attention – and this can be uncomfortable. The idea is not to produce model answers but to help you become better at managing your situation, thinking on your feet and giving of your very best when you attend the real interview. The practice interviews I do are a great way to learn and also, believe it or not, good fun!    Why don’t you give one a try?