How to begin your job interview presentation

Anthony Haynes writes: The candidate had been asked to come prepared with a presentation, so he sent me some slides to review before the event.

‘I can’t tell from the slides who the audience is,’ I said. ‘This presentation could be for any number of employers.’

‘Is that a problem?’


Unsurprisingly it turns out that the presentation is a lightly retouched version of one that has been designed for a different occasion.

‘Why don’t you,’ I suggest, ‘start the presentation by talking not about yourself or your topic, but about the employer?’

I suggest openers along the lines of ‘Whilst preparing this presentation, I have been researching  your organisation using various sources. I thought it would be helpful first to outline the messages that has given me about your key interests and requirements so I can then dovetail the points I wish to discuss…’

On the day, after  a minute or so, one of the interviewers interrupts: ‘Wait: are you telling us you designed this presentation especially for this occasion?’


It turns out that the interviewers like this. A lot,

With good reason. This approach sends so many positive messages simultaneously. For example:

  • you care enough about the opportunity enough to have done some real work for it
  • you’re being courteous: you’re tailoring the information to help them see its relevance to their own context
  • you’ve done some proper homework on the employer
  • if they employ and you have to do a presentation on behalf of the comp[any, you’re likely to make a good impression.

The candidate duly received a job offer, no doubt for several reasons — but there is no doubt that the tailored presentation helped.

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