Interviewing for jobs can be an experience that feels like you're passing through a gauntlet. After you've made it through one challenge, up pops another more treacherous one. Sometimes you'll pass through the first round of job interviews, only to face giving a technical presentation for the second one. Before you give up your sword and pull out the white flag, however, know that this is an opportunity for you to show what you're made of. So long as you actually have the skills you say you do, don't worry -- you've got this.
Don't Make Assumptions
Don't assume you know what the job interview is going to entail. Every successful job interview should start with some basic research. In this case, you'll need to know what the job involves and what the employer is looking for you to bring to the table -- whether that's a skill, education or a certain sort of personality. For a technical presentation, you'll also need to know what software the company uses and what versions of the software it has, whether you'll need to bring your own computer and how long the presentation should last. You might get some of this information from the job posting and any correspondence you've had with the employer; but, if you're not sure of something, ask well ahead of the interview date.
Provide a Framework
Your technical presentation may involve talking about your special skills and why the employer wants to hire you, or it may be more of a show-and-tell in which you demonstrate your proficiency in a certain type of work. In any case, you need to start off your presentation with a framework or outline that the employer can follow. At the beginning of the presentation, display a basic outline of what the employer can expect during the presentation.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You may be more than familiar with the technology and materials that you're presenting, but that doesn't exempt you from doing a few practice rounds ahead of the actual interview date. Lay out your entire presentation, and then ask a friend or trusted colleague to watch you give the presentation. Even better: have your friend come up with a few follow-up questions or provide other feedback about your performance. Practice the presentation at least two or three times so you have the entire thing down.
Don't Let Them See You Sweat
Even if you're an expert in the field, presenting in front of unfamiliar people can be an intimidating experience. That's why that practice is so important, helping you work out the kinks before you "go live." During the presentation, stay relaxed and don't let them see how nervous you really may be. Employ any calming techniques you may know, such as mindful breathing or imagining the audience in their underwear, to help you stay calm. Also keep in mind that a little humor never hurts -- even when you're covering topics that may be quite serious.
Don't Go Over Time
If you're in the job interview process, chances are you're not the only candidate the employer is considering. As such, it's important not to take up too much of the employer's time. If the employer gave you a time limit or a maximum number of slides, don't risk blowing the interview by going over that allotted time. Again, this is where your practice rounds will come in handy. If you need to cut out some materials, look again at the employer's job posting and try to identify the most crucial skills or qualities the employer is looking for, and leave those things in your presentation. Cut out any extra information that is not directly related to the job at hand.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.