The Second Interview: Tasks and presentations
Second interviews are something we’ve seen more and more in recruitment practice over the last few years. The thing with face-to-face interviews is that, whilst you may have impressed at the first stage, prospective employers need a better understanding of how you can put your skills and knowledge into practice in a way that meets the organisation’s objectives and, ultimately, proves your value. You might remember our advice on helping you prepare for common questions during the next stage, but often there is another part to this interview that requires a different kind of prep.
So, we’ve put together some guidance around how to tackle one of the most daunting stages of the interview process: the task.
What do interview tasks involve?
Depending on the industry you’re going into, you may be required to carry out several tasks on the day of your interview, or given a brief to fulfil ahead of your meeting. This could involve a 10-minute presentation on creative campaign ideas for some of the organisation’s clients, on the day proofreading exercises or tasks that involve analysing data to extract the most significant information.
Preparing for presentations
1.Understand the objective
First thing is first, read the brief. Who is your audience? Are you presenting this as if to clients, consumers or colleagues? Be sure you understand the objective before diving into building a presentation; if you miss the aim of the task, it won’t matter how whizzy it looks.
2.Do your research
Whether your presentation is a campaign pitch or business audit, have a look at the organisation or client’s website, resources and social channels. This will give you a steer on the tone of voice you should adopt and the audience you are targeting. Demonstrating a good understanding of their business objectives and values shows your interest, as well as good attention to detail.
3.Structure your presentation logically
Whether jotting points down on paper or dropping rough titles into blank slides, it’s good to think about how you will introduce yourself and the subject, discuss your main points and round-off. You don’t want to lose track of your point or run off on a tangent.
4.Avoid overusing visual aids
The aim of this task is to see how you present ideas, not your slideshow. Prospective employers want to see your approach to communicating with an audience and how you solve problems, provide solutions and rationalise your thinking. It’s important to show that you know what you’re talking about, without turning around to check your own slides.
5.Practice your timings
You’ll be amazed how quickly the time goes during a presentation, so be sure to run through several times and allow extra time for questions.
On the day tasks
You’ll usually be warned of any tasks coming up at your next interview, but often won’t receive much information about what these include. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and take your time where you need it.
1.Plan your time carefully
For written tasks, give yourself time at the beginning to read the information thoroughly and spend five minutes jotting down any notes to help you make a plan and identify or highlight any key points you think will be useful.
2.Check and double-check
You can never be too careful so, if you find yourself with time to spare, use every last minute to scan through your work with eagle eyes to look for any mistakes. If this is a proofreading task, you’ll often find going over sentences for even the third time will uncover errors you hadn’t noticed before.
3.Prepare to justify your decisions
Prepare to rationalise your thoughts and actions with your interviewers after the task. Just like with any presentation, maintain eye contact and deliver your point with confidence; it may feel like they’re trying to catch you out but really, interviewers are keen to see how you respond to questions and make decisions.
What happens next?
After most tasks, you should come away with a good idea of how you did as feedback is often given on the day. However, interviewers need time to look back at your work in detail and compare it to the original brief and job description. It may take a couple of days to hear back, but don’t be afraid to ask for an update.
If you aren’t offered the role on this occasion, your interviewers should provide you with some good, constructive feedback to take on board for your next interview. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for it if not – interviews are a learning curve and a great way to develop your skills.
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