Submitted by ashdenver on
My husband is going back for his second interview at a life insurance and annuity company and he has been asked to provide a five minute PowerPoint presentation to the interview panel. The recruiter said "Many people choose a financial topic but some do not."
Which would you recommend?
1.) a financial management topic (such as "Mutual Funds in ROTH Accounts")
2.) a non-financial management topic (such as "Living Frugally")
3.) coming prepared with three presentations & giving whichever one the panel expresses interest in / votes for (one strictly financial like the ROTH topic, one somewhat financial like saving money on a day-to-day basis and one more fun like "Being an Effective eBayer")
Interviews are for selling yourself
I would put up a 5min ppt of the key aspects of my experience/accomplishments that illustrate why they should hire me- in the context of what the hiring company does and that which is required of the job being filled.
If it's not too late...
Hiya Ash -
One question: how relevant are presenting skills to the job he's being considered for? If presenting to groups is an improtant part of the job (and therefore likely to be an important consideration among the candidates), then I'd suggest that he do everything he can to appear like he already has the job. Ideally, he wants the panel to be thinking of him like an incumbent, and not a candidate.
That said, a couple of more specifics:
* Stay away from anything "flashy" or "unnatural" to the job (e.g., if as an incumbent he wouldn't give his audience a choice of topics, then as a candidate he shouldn't either).
* Stay away from anything the audience knows better than he does. If as an incumbent he will be presenting as an Expert on a topic, then as a candidate he would be best served by choosing a topic on which he is an Expert.
Present on what you know, and that makes you look good
in my company we routinely ask candidates to do a presentation as part of the interview process. This is in part to test presentation skills, which are often important in the role, but it's also to test general communication skills, and as another way of finding out more about what they candidate has done / knows.
Generally the most successful presentations are where people are presenting about a past project they've done. (It's a consulting company.) This means they're very knowledgeable about what they speaking about, we (as interviewers) are interested as we haven't heard it before, and they get to talk about all the great things they've done. This applies even where the project itself wasn't the biggest / greatest, or was even a little routine, or the candidate didn't have the starring role on the project. The simple fact that they spent a few weeks/months working on it generally means there is something of note to talk about.
Occasionally people do present on more unusual topics, and once in a while they do this very well. But when the unusual topics are done poorly, they can be very, very bad. Whereas even if someone isn't a natural presenter, if they pick a topic they know well, and that's relevant to the job, they can generally at least do OK. Equally for an average to good presenter, it gives us a good chance to see them presenting (and being quizzed) on something very relevant to the job.
So my recommendation would be for your husband to go with option 1 and pick a work-related topic he knows well, perhaps about something he's done in his current job. Ideally something that also shows him in a good light, and may be of interest to the interviewers. I would steer clear of anything gimmicky like providing a choice. If he were to do that, he'd need to do an awesome presentation for it to not fall flat. Also, I'd steer away from anything too light-hearted, unless making that type of presentation is a part of the job.
Present what you would present
I would make the presentation subject be as close to the types/subject of presentations I would give in the new role? Make the interviewers see you doing the role. However, I also agree that choosing a subject you know well is important as they will likely ask questions and you want to be able to respond to those questions well. As with the rest of the interview, prepare, prepare, prepare.