Aim higher than the minimum standard

Q: I’m going for a second interview for a position as a social media intern. They want a presentation as well on what I would do if I got the position. They haven’t specified what format they want the presentation in. I was thinking about PowerPoint. I could outline some of my ideas there and maybe highlight some good social media campaigns I’ve seen. Would that be good enough? (BW, email)

A: Don’t just think ‘good enough’. That implies you are trying to reach some minimum standard, perhaps set by the employer, whereas you should be going all-out to give them a presentation that far exceeds their expectations.

I don’t think PowerPoint is what you should be doing here.

The world of social media requires creativity, fresh ideas and boldness. Otherwise, social media campaigns die on the vine. The competition is stiff: in an era of Citizen Marketing, others are working hard to catch the same attention that you’re seeking.

Without knowing the specifics of the role, I would still hazard that somebody else in for this job will turn up with a Twitter campaign drafted and ready to roll, or a mocked-up Facebook page, or a graphic design of a website page with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Audioboo and sundry other platforms hanging off it.

‘Show me, don’t tell me’ should be your guiding light for this second interview. What can you actually show them? What can you bring to life in front of their very eyes?

PowerPoint – or even its posh cousin Prezi – is scarcely up to the task here. Be bold. Sell them the dream. Don’t tie yourself up in a knot, but don’t err on the side caution either.

On the topic of presentations, I would add that for some other positions, a more sober approach will suffice. In some cases, too many bells and whistles will frighten the interview panel.

A salesperson asked to make a presentation at an interview should focus on key elements such as your strategies for cold-calling, diary management, closing of sales, and meeting your targets. Sales clients I have worked with have turned up with just simple Microsoft Word pages as their presentation. They have been successful because, when it comes to sales, it’s all about the substance rather than the style.

This week’s top tip

How much detail should you give in a job interview – that’s a question clients ask us all the time.

Enough so they can see you doing the job – but not so much you lose them.

In my experience, most people give too little detail. “There’s no need to tell the interview panel that,” they reason, “because they surely know that themselves already.”

But do they? Sometimes details can appear trivial or simplistic. But, piled together, they form your profile.

When you enter an interview room, you are an uncut diamond. An unformed picture. With each passing minute, you flesh out your profile – and detail of what you have done, and what you are going to do, all help to make sure it’s the right profile, the profile the employer is looking for – that responsibility is yours, and yours alone.


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