Most higher education institutions will not grill you with numerous interviews that go on for weeks or even months. In most cases, you won’t be required to attend an interview more than once. This is good news. However, it’s very likely that they’ll want you to go through a few assessments on the day alongside your interview. These assessments obviously vary depending on the position, but are likely to include one or more of the following: oral presentation, written exercise, in-tray exercise, role-playing, and group exercise. In the next few posts, I will be covering each of those.
The oral presentation
This is a common requirement and can precede or follow after the interview. You may be asked to present on a topic relevant to the role applied for or on a more generic topic. If asked to do an oral presentation, you should expect to be assessed on your confidence speaking in public, the clarity of your communication, your delivery style and ability to engage your audience, as well as the ability to be concise and fit everything within the allocated time limit.
Here are a few tips:
1) Keep your presentation within time: Never exceed the time limit, as it shows lack of respect to your audience and lack of self-control. On the other hand, a presentation that is too short isn’t a good idea either, as you want to be comprehensive enough and make a good case. Try to be somewhere in the middle. If, for example, you have been allocated 10 minutes, try to keep your speech at 8-9 minutes.
2) Don’t make too many points: Chances are that you won’t be given more than 15 minutes at best to present. In this amount of time, it’s not a good idea to come across with more than three or four major points, otherwise the result will seem inconsistent, badly-thought through, sloppy and confusing.
3) Be careful with visual aids: If you are allowed to use visual aids, do so carefully. At all costs avoid animation, very bright colours and anything else that can shift attention away from you. Remember that it’s an aid to your presentation, it’s not THE presentation. You need to have people focus on you. If you don’t feel comfortable using visual aids, there’s nothing wrong in not doing it at all. Distributing handouts with your main points, however, is a good idea.
4) Engage your audience: Try to show off that you are confident even if you’re not 100% – it really matters. Try not to deliver a flat speech. Smile, make joke or two, use your hands, move across the room, ask questions, encourage your audience to participate. It will be much appreciated.
5) Practise, practise and practise: I don’t mean learning everything by heart – as this may have the opposite effect and make you look phony. But you need to have practised your presentation at least a few times before delivering it. Your mirror and your family and friends are always a good idea, as they will help you see your mistakes and improve. You will also find that the more you practise, the more confident you’ll start to feel, as you will become familiar with the content of your speech and thus less likely to blank if something goes wrong on the actual day.