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Career Advice & tips


Oral Presentations - Learn How to be at your Best.

You may be asked to prepare, and deliver, a presentation as part of the interview process. The employer will want to assess your oral communication skills. Can you present your case in a way that your audience will understand and find interesting?



Setting the scene 

The employer may ask you to prepare your presentation before the day of your interview, or you may be given a limited time for preparation once you have arrived at the interviewer’s premises. Sometimes you can choose the subject of your talk, possibly from a list of suggested titles. Otherwise, you will be given the topic. You will normally be told the maximum duration of your presentation, for example three minutes or fifteen minutes. Audio-visual equipment such as a lap-top with PowerPoint, whiteboard, overhead projector, or flipchart may or may not be available. Your audience will consist of your interviewers and possibly the other candidates. Expect the interviewers to make notes as they assess your performance.





  • · Tell us about yourself and what you can offer this organisation (5 minutes, a very open subject).
  • · Why I enjoy Latin-American dancing (10 minutes, chosen by the employer from information given on the application form).
  • · Choose a science topic, currently in the news, of interest to pupils aged 11 years (15 minutes, interview for teacher training course).





Reading your presentation aloud can sound stilted and you will not be able to look at your audience. Use brief notes consisting of key words on note cards. Make sure you number the cards and use large writing and a highlighter pen so that you can follow them when under pressure.




Be aware of your body language:



You may be allowed to use visual aids to help the audience to understand the point you wish to make. Visual aids can make your presentation more effective. People retain 10% of what they hear, but retain 50% of what they hear and see.


· If possible, use a variety of colours but keep a consistent ‘brand’.




Many people are afraid of speaking publicly but the more you practise, the more your performance will improve. Learn to use PowerPoint or an overhead projector. There is a knack to using them confidently. Take opportunities to give presentations to your fellow students.




  • · Giving Presentations, Jo Billingham, OUP, 2003

Dressing for the Interview by Industry.

There's no getting around it: In every job interview, you're going to be judged -- at least partially -- by how you look.  

But how you should look varies depending on your industry and the job you're interviewing for. Take a look at general interview attire expectations for eight career areas: 


"If you're applying for a technical position, you won't need a suit," says Carole Martin, a former Monster contributor and author of Boost Your Interview IQ. "A collared shirt and khakis or slacks would work. Same goes for women -- sweater or blouse and slacks or a skirt." 

But upgrade your attire if you're interviewing for a higher-level job. "You dress in the best clothes you have," says David Perry, managing director for Ottawa, Canada-based high tech recruiting firm Perry-Martel International and author of Career Guide for the High-Tech Professional. "No exceptions." 



If you're interviewing for a finance job, remember that "nothing is more precise and exact than managing money," says Pamela Holland, chief operating officer for Brody Communications in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and coauthor of Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? "You cannot afford to have a hair out of place. Full business professional attire is required and expected." 


At a government interview, "don't be flashy," Holland says. "This is a time to show you're responsible, trustworthy and honest." 

But a bit of color is OK, whether you're a man or a woman, says Kathryn Troutman, author ofTen Steps to a Federal Job

"Be conservative with jewelry, makeup and hairstyles," she says. She advises being conservative overall, but adds "the days of all white shirts for men in government need to end."

Human Resources 

For an HR interview, "you must look professional and authoritative," Martin says. "You'll need the look that you could handle any crisis and be dependable." 


Typically, a suit is the uniform for a sales interview. After all, stresses Martin, "who would want to buy from a guy in a T-shirt and jeans?" 

But you might be able to go with bolder designs and colors, Holland says. "The product or service you're representing will determine how classic versus trendy/fashionable you should be," she explains. 


"Here's an exception where a potential employer will understand if you have a little dirt or grease under your nails," says Holland of interviewing for an auto repair job. "You still want to look as neat as possible, but a suit is probably not necessary." 

That is, unless you're interviewing at a high-end dealership, says Heidi Nelson, a personnel counselor for Car People Oregon, a Portland, Oregon, automotive staffing service for new-car dealerships. In that case, Nelson says, "I would dress up a bit more." 


Image is particularly critical in the hospitality industry, says Martin. A suit is appropriate for some positions but not always a must. However, you always need to make a great first impression

"You're representing the company, and you may be the first person seen," she says. 


John Coffey worked as a factory production manager for years before becoming a career coach. His take on appropriate attire for an interview in the trades: business casual. 

"For men, this might be a nice pair of Dockers and a buttoned shirt, along with well-kept and polished shoes," says Coffey, career success officer for Winning Careers in Woodbury, Minnesota. "The same goes for women -- nice slacks and a professional business top. I think a suit or sports jacket for this type of work is overkill." 

Of course, one industry's excess is another industry's underdressed. So don't be afraid to ask, because no matter what, "your packaging counts," says Holland. 

"You really never do get a second chance to make a good first impression," Andre stresses. "By investing some time and money in creating a suitable interview wardrobe, you will invite others to easily invest back in you."