Q: They’ve asked me to do a ten-minute presentation at the start of the interview, but the instruction amounts to just one word: ‘Challenges’. What’s a woman meant to do with the likes of that? Hemingway wouldn’t manage to cobble together something from that title. Any tips would be appreciated. (IK, email).
A: I am starting to notice a trend towards terse and obscure titles for job interview presentations. Something is stirring. Somewhere, wherever HR professionals meet, in dimly-lit rooms, a new approach is being cooked up, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
When you get over the initial shock, you should start to see that opportunity lurks here. First of all, the one-word approach could rattle others. Presentations are tricky at the best of times and, without clear guidance, some candidates will struggle.
There could be two elements to your presentation.
- The title – which, I concede, isn’t very instructive in your case. But it does tell you something. Draw it out: what challenges is the company likely to face? Any legislative changes in the offing? Is technology altering the way the sector functions?
- The unasked questions you need to answer which might be summarised as follows: How well do you understand the job? What ideas have you got for it? What is the basis for those ideas? And, crucially, why are you the woman for the job?
Your presentation should seek to address those, however subtly. The beauty of a one-word or obscure title is that it allows you to interpret – it gives you the leeway to go where you need to go to answer the unasked questions.
So it’s not just good enough to identify challenges. Offer solutions. Present yourself as the best person to deliver those solutions.
And, most of all, prepare well beforehand. Know what you want to say before you design a single slide. Get your story right and generate your slides after that. In my experience, if you design the slides too early, they constrict you – figure out what you want to say, and let the slides follow, not the other way around.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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