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Submitted by davidleeheyman on


Many companies require candidates to give a frontal presentation as part of the interview process. Typically the idea is to see how they structure the presentation and how they do in front of an audience. Is it better to have them prepare a presentation on a topic of their choice or to have them study the company website and other materials and present on the company and/or products? I tend to think that if the goal is to see how they present then it is best to allow them to stick to material with which they are already comfortable.

mksmith's picture
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Working in a technical organization, we have candidates present on a topic of their choosing usually whatever their current research is. This lets me see several things
1) What is he or she actually [u]doing [/u]in his or her current work?
2) Can the candidate make appropriate distinctions and acknowledgments for work done by others that fits into his or her research project?
3) How do they do at gauging the audience and matching the presentation to the audience? Usually the audience is technical people not working in the area being presented.
4) Is this someone I would be comfortable giving a presentation to one of my customers or to senior management?


jhack's picture

It can be insightful to ask a candidate to give an impromptu presentation on a white board regarding a topic under discussion (ie, sketch out a business process or model, or a technical diagram).

While not as formal, many of Morag's points above still hold, and you can get a clear sense of their poise and ability to think on their feet.


HMac's picture

Morag's points are great, and I agree with the overall sense that the choice of topic should be something the candidate knows, rather than having him present about the hiring company (especially because that's a real set-up for a "gotcha" - I mean, what company's website is entirely current and accurate?)

I'd argue that the content is the LEAST of the concern: that is, you're not having the candidate do this to teach you. You're doing it to see how well she communicates the material. So what the material actually is, is immaterial. :oops:

Wow. That ended up being one helluva sentence. I need to lie down now.


mptully's picture

My husband, in his previous job, was hiring folk to do IT training. He asked them to come prepared to teach him something that they thought he wouldnt know anything about.

He got some facinating presentations, including one about VW camper vans, but the most memorable was the lady who brought along some bells without clappers to teach him how to do bell ringing. She got the job and was one of his best trainers for years!