June 19, 2014

5 Questions for Spotting the Candidate with the Best Presentation Skills

Magnifying Glass Searching the best employeeDo you need a supervisor or manager who can get business ideas and strategies across to employees? Are you looking for marketing and sales professionals who can forward your company brand to potential clients? Is your company scouting for a trainer who can transfer knowledge and skills to new hires?

If you are in any of these situations, it can be very revealing to candidates to deliver a presentation as part of the interview process. This strategy allows direct and in-depth assessment of communication skills, knowledge, and ability to think logically. It can also be useful to invite key members of your organization to join the “audience” during the candidates’ presentations.

The following are some useful assessment questions and criteria:

#1: Is the content well-structured?

In most cases, a presentation will have three major parts: introduction, main message, and conclusion. If the main message is complicated, a smart presenter will subdivide it to convey the details in a comprehensible way. The presenter then shifts from one part or point to another by using transition phrases, such as the following:

  • Let me start my presentation with a…
  • I would like to discuss five points…
  • First… second… third…
  • Based on the arguments I mentioned…

You will know that the content is well-structured if you clearly remember the key points at the end of the talk. The presented ideas, facts, and stories are interconnected coherently to impart a meaningful message.

#2: Has the candidate caught your attention?

How does the candidate open the presentation? Does he start with a funny anecdote, a striking quote, or an interesting tale? Does she use jokes once in a while to keep you from boredom? If you don’t feel like nodding off, taking your phone from your pocket to check emails, or going out of the room for a break during the presentation, it indicates the candidate has captured your focus and attention.

#3: How does the candidate move?

Notice the presenter’s body movements. Does he seem confident with his posture? Do you get distracted with her hand gestures? Does he look at the audience in the eyes or does he often stare at the ceiling or PowerPoint presentation? How does she make use of the space in the room? In a presentation, remember that it’s not only the verbal messages that matter; the communication style carries some weight as well.

#4: Does the candidate ask questions from time to time?

Asking questions is a good way of engaging the listeners during a presentation. If the candidate does so, he or she is asking you to think, conclude, and respond – all of which are indicators of participation. Questions also make good tools for checking whether or not you and the presenter are “on the same page.”

#5: How effective are the candidate’s visual tools?

The PowerPoint slide deck itself can make or break a presenter’s performance, too. It’s worthwhile looking at how the candidate prepared his or her audio-visual tool. Has it been crafted with careful thought? Do the illustrations, graphs and charts reinforce the main points, or do they just distract you? Can you read the text clearly, or are the slides jammed with too many phrases? Are the colors professional and pleasant to the eyes?

At the end of the interview presentation, answer the five questions above. You’ll be better able to evaluate the candidate’s capabilities and make informed hiring decisions.

Read more in Business Communication

Toke Kruse is the founder of Slideshop.com, a leading supplier of pre-designed PowerPoint presentation templates. He writes books and blog posts related to startups, entrepreneurship, online business, accounting, and presentations.