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2 Traps To Avoid in a Job Interview Presentation

Increasingly, presentations are used as a key tool to test candidates for technical positions and leadership positions in a company. This article aims to give you an overview of the logic behind the tests, the usual traps you may fall into and the ways to overcome the traps.

2 types of Presentations used in interviews:

There are two types of presentations that are generally used in interviews to test the candidates. They are: 

  1. Presentations that test leadership communication
  2. Presentations that test technical expertise

While the former may used predominantly for internal assessments, the latter is used to recruit new candidates for key technical positions.

Let us understand each of the types in detail below.

1. Presentations that test leadership communication:

These presentations test your ability to think clearly and articulate your message well.

The logic behind the test:
The move from technical role to a managerial role is quite dicey. If a technical expert is promoted to people management role which he is not suited for, the company not only loses his expertise but also loses employees because of ineffective management.

Companies have realized that a lot of leadership issues are in fact communication issues. Hence effectiveness of leadership communication has started to develop as a key criterion for selection to people management roles.

Nature of these tests:
Usually these presentations are asked to be made at short notice (30 minutes of preparation time is allowed in most cases)

The 2 traps that most candidates fall into:

  • Covering more points superficially instead of covering fewer points thoroughly
  • Not having a clear outline before setting out to present

Solutions to overcome these two traps:

Focus on depth instead of width:
You have a much higher chance of making an impression on the interview panel by focusing on just 3 points instead of 10 points. Remember, the test is not about your technical expertise but about the clarity of your communication.

List down all the points you wish to cover, and prioritize them based on how critical they are.

Choose the top 3 points and discard the rest. Spend time thinking about how you can relate those points to your audience. Jot down examples, stories or relevant data to bring more clarity to those ideas.  

Have a clear outline of what you are going to cover:

The importance of this can’t be overstated. A useful structure to follow for your presentation is:

  1. 2 line overview
  2. 3 agenda points
  3. Explanation of points
  4. Examples 
  5. 2 line summary

First write down a two line summary of what your presentation is about. Give a brief context and mention the 3 points you would cover in your presentation. Explain the 3 points.

Give examples for each of those points. End the presentation by repeating the 2 line summary you started your presentation with.

This simple and time tested structure won’t let you down.

Now, let’s discuss the second type of Job Interview Presentation.

2.Presentations that test technical expertise:

These presentations not only test the depth of your knowledge, but also test the clarity with which you explain the concepts.

The logic behind the test:
Companies realize that depth of knowledge in a subject reflects in the clarity of explanation. They want to know if you are someone who follows the given process blindly or you understand the logic behind the process.

If your job involves trouble shooting, they want to be sure that you know what you do.

Nature of these tests:
You are usually given a few days to prepare for the presentation. You are allowed to use presentation software to support your talk.

The 2 traps that most candidates fall into:
• Choosing a complex subject to explain
• Not supporting the explanation with visuals

Solutions to overcome these two traps:
Choose a subject or topic that is possible to be explained clearly in the given time

Choosing the right subject is the key in these presentations. Remember, not everyone in the interview panel is a technical expert.

Control your urge to display all your technical knowhow in one go. Focus on your audience instead of focusing only on the subject. 

Chunk your explanation in to bite sized pieces and connect them clearly.

Do a periodic summary of the points you covered, to ensure that everyone in the audience is on the same page.

If the topic is predefined, then work on simplifying it to make it understandable for everyone. Talk more about ‘Why’ instead of just the ‘What’.

Make your presentations visual
Even the toughest concepts can be related to the audience with the proper use of visuals. Explain your ideas with simple diagrams instead of lengthy bullet points.

A good diagram helps your audience visualize the relationship between elements. So, they can understand your information faster and remember it longer.


A good presentation focuses on 3 important words – Fewer, Deeper and Simpler. Whether you make technical presentations or strategic presentations, the principles remain the same.
Practice the 3 key principles and win in your next job interview presentation. 

Please share your comments below if you found these tips useful.

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