Many people fear public speaking, in fact some people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. You might think that sounds extreme but it really is frightening to stand up and speak in front of others, especially when you haven’t had an opportunity to prepare. Not every job requires people to make a lot of presentation but that doesn’t mean you won’t be asked abut your presentation skills. Employers that are interested in your ability to think on your feet will ask you interview questions about unexpected presentations, to see how to approach the problem more so than to assess your actual presentation skills.
Behavioral Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you have to make an impromtu presentation to a work group with little or no preparation? What was the most difficult part? How did you handle it?
There are two important parts to having a great answer:
1. Draw on a Real Life Story:
Almost everyone has some example of this. If you are a recent graduate, you can give an example of being called upon in class.
2. Have a Follow Up:
Once you’ve shared the difficult part, prove that you’ve learned from that experience by having some type of plan or activity you have completed so that it is no longer difficult.
Other than that, the specific story itself isn’t as important. What is critical is to show how you approached the problem and solved it. Just make sure that you don’t complain too much about why you ended up in that situation.
“This happened quite often, actually. I had a manager that was often very brief when they were communicating their thoughts with me. Every once in a while I would receive an email that said something along the lines of ‘Hi! I would like you to sit in on a meeting with us at 3:00pm.’ Once there, on more than one occasion I was suddenly surprised, and asked to present on the project I was working on to the board of directors.
With no planning I think the most challenging part was being coherent, since I had no outline to follow. But honestly, the key to succeeding was simply to be active in my job. I took my role very seriously, so I knew what to talk about and when I didn’t, I told the staff I would follow up with exact statistics, which I did when I got back to my desk. By speaking clearly and paying attention to the projects I was completing, I was able to successfully share the details of those projects with the board.”
Real story, with an example of what you have learned in order to do even better in the future. You do have a very slight complaint about your manager, but you do so respectfully and your interviewer should be able to empathize well with the experience.
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