Depending on the role you are applying for, the employer may be justified in asking you to conduct a presentation as part of the assessment process. For example, if you are applying for a Sales role where you are likely to present to clients, then this would be an appropriate exercise to give to job candidates.
Presentation exercises can take various forms, however often you will be given consistent information often known as a “candidate brief” which will tell you what is required. You will most likely be situated in a room with other candidates at this stage and you will be given strict time limits to review the information and prepare a presentation; you will have access to appropriate stationary and materials such as markers and flipcharts.
Once the time has lapsed and the candidate has compiled a presentation, the administrator will take the candidate into another room where they will conduct the presentation to an assessor. Often only one assessor will be present. There will be a fixed time limit after which there will be time for questions. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure they do not over run the time limit that has been given.
Presentation Exercises also look at particular competencies that may be deemed relevant to the role. These competencies will no doubt vary between organisations and roles, however one consistent theme is that of the ‘Communicating’ competency, which is often by far the most relevant to this type of assessment. We provide some hints and tips below on how to ensure you demonstrate your communication well.
Other competencies include ‘Problem Solving’ or ‘Planning and Organising’ which are often about how you gather the information required and organise it for it to be subsequently communicated in an easily-understandable manner (Communication competency).
Body Language and Verbal Communication
Ensure good body language and maintain relaxed eye contact – you do not want to be staring the assessor in the eyes for prolonged periods of time. Make sure that when you are listening to questions you are attentive and demonstrate this through nods and gestures of agreement. When presenting, speak clearly, varying your style, speed and tone. Avoid walking around when talking – by standing still, you are likely to retain hold of the observer’s attention. If you feel uncomfortable in terms of how you are standing, or where your hands are positioned, clasping your hands can sometimes help. Smiling always helps too.
Believe it or not, but some employers may be justified in being confrontational, especially if the job is likely to reflect this. For example, an army officer is likely to find themselves in a job where they can be put under pressure. This is unlikely for a graduate job, but if this is the case, avoid confrontation and do not speak over the assessor, regardless of how aggressive they may appear. The assessor may simply be doing this to see how you respond. Remain calm and focussed on your task.
Know your facts
Assessors are likely to ask you questions about simple facts that were in the Candidate Brief. They are highly unlikely to ever ask you about something that is not in the information that was provided. Remember, they are not trying to assess your factual knowledge outside of that situation (unless it is a technical assessment) but rather your behavioural actions. Ensure you pick up any key facts in case you are asked.
Keeping a check on the time will earn you good points. Don’t worry about finishing early, however finishing too early can often be viewed negatively as it reflects a lack of information.
Involve the assessor throughout if you feel confident enough. Ask them if they have questions at the end of a sub-topic or flipchart. A great thing to do would be to ask the observer if there is anything specific (other than that outlined in your agenda) they want from the session.