Last week, the Project Management Recruitment Ideas looked at Scenario Questions at the Project Management Interview, this week we focus on those interviews where you are asked to provide a presentation. There is no generally no preference from recruiting organisations on when to use presentations as a recruitment tool; it could be first interview or any of the subsequent stages. Interviewers use the presentation to test a number of things; your understanding and interpretation of the brief, your understanding of the subject matter, your time management, your presentation style, your communication skills, your confidence levels etc etc.
Project Management Interviews – The Presentation
So you’ve just received an interview request and alongside the usual Q&A interview you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation. In this post we’re going to look at a Programme Office Manager position.
The instruction includes; prepare the presentation and bring it along on a memory stick, you will have 15 minutes to give your presentation with 5-10 minutes for questions afterwards. The presentation brief;
Please present 3 key deliverables that you would personally like to take forward if you held the role of Programme Office Manager. Assume that the current PMO produces limited reporting to the Programme Managers and senior management. Please explain why you have selected these deliverables and detail what benefits would be achieved. Explain how would you go about persuading your peers and the Programme Managers that these ideas are worth implementing.
Quite a presentation brief! There’s obviously a lot that you could include in the presentation but before we steam ahead here are some things to consider.
The key to any successful presentation is structure. If you are using Powerpoint ensure you do not use too many slides (approx 1 slide per 3 mins is adequate). Always have an introductory slide which clearly states your name and the title of the presentation – start by introducing yourself giving a brief summary of who you are professionally. The next slide should be a bulleted list of contents which you should look to talk through briefly so the audience is clear on how you intend to take them through. The next slides should not be too busy with detail, keep it bulleted and to the point – you can use this as a prompt and I’d expect you to put detail around each point. Keep to the slides and take a structured approach. Ensure you summarise at the end of the presentation.
Presentations are meant to be informative and professional presented – use of images is OK however avoid using clip art (a little naff!) and make sure the images are relevant. Being too creative can draw the audience away from what you are saying and into the slide. Handouts can be a good way to leave your mark with the audience after the presentation (only distribute at the end of the presentation), but ensure you add more detail not just a print out of the presentation. Therefore any additional information which could not be covered in the presentation (time constraints usually mean only having the opportunity to talk high level about the subject), by leaving this information with the audience you add more value as they can see the research and thought process you have gone through to hit the conclusion.
Always ensure you make good eye contact with the audience and ensure your personality comes across – in formal situations such as interviews we can all too often become wooden. Ensure you take a structured approach to the subject you are covering by setting the scene (do not assume the audience understand what the project is), covering what was actually done and your part in this (take ownership) and the outcome (what were the benefits?).
For the example given above we know we will have one slde on each of the key deliverables (3 x 3 mins) so we’ve covered 9 minutes already. We will need one slide on how we will persuade, so another 3 minutes takes us to 12 minutes. We have 3 minutes spare to use in both the introduction and the summary. Time management can be especially difficult in this kind of situation so practice the presentation and the timings very carefully.
In putting together the key deliverables ideas, the interviewer will be looking for your rationale in identifying these particular deliverables, your proposal for implementing these deliverables and of course the success criteria (or benefits achieved).
And finally – the two reasons why most people fail at presentations at the interivew – one; failure to clearly show understanding of the brief by presenting a muddled and confusing presentation and two; time management. If you think its harsh that you could be rejected just by overrunning, think again about the clear instruction you were given in the brief. Time is mentioned twice so its obvious that the interviewer will be testing you on.
If you need 1-2-1 advice on a forthcoming interview presentation, you can use the Arras People Careers Clinic to talk it through with a consultant. They will be able to give advice and help on the content as well as running through your presentation before the interview.