Second interview – will you prepare a presentation?


There you are, just heard that you have made the cut and you’re through to the 2nd interview stage! Hopefully you have asked how many candidates have progressed to that stage, so that you have a sense of the amount of competition you have.

Once the euphoria has settled, you need to start thinking about how you will prepare. For if you don’t, then you may end up giving a very similar performance as before, just with different people.

The interviewer’s expectations are high – after all their colleague recommended you to go through to the second round, so you need to plan to impress.

Stand out from the competition

As you will probably not know what the format of this 2nd meeting will be, you need to prepare for all eventualities – look up the interviewer’s background – any connections in common? Carry out more store visits of their shops and their competitors’, check out their online experience, maybe even order a product and compare the service against your expectations.

However, to really stand out from the crowd, preparing an unrequested presentation might just give you the edge over your competition.

Once you have decided that this is a good idea, the following questions will spring to mind immediately:

  • What should it look like / format?
  • How many pages?
  • What content?
  • What do I do if the interviewer requests a copy?

There are no hard and fast rules, however I would give you the following tips:

I would always prepare some kind of presentation, even if it is just a one pager. It conveys that you take this process seriously, you have invested time in preparation and have not just rolled up for the interview. It also gives this meeting a topic that is not just focussed on your background and experience to date.

What to include

I’d say a maximum of 6 pages and a ratio of 70/30 for photos/words – after all a picture tells a 1000 words and the text in the document should just be a headline around which you can verbally give context. I’d present it on an iPad or laptop and have a printed version ready to hand over (if you’re comfortable with that) printed on the best quality paper you can find and professionally bound (definitely not stapled!).

The content largely depends on the role you’re interviewing for. That said, you cannot go wrong with a competitive SWOT analysis biased towards the area of the business you’re hoping to join. I would recommend that everything you say or print is caveated by ‘this is a view of an outsider looking in, without having detailed information to hand’. I’d stay away from controversial points of view, sensitive areas of the business and giving sharp critique on the interviewer’s area of responsibility … (Btw I would NOT stay away from these topics if the company asked you to prepare a presentation!).

Are you willing to share?

Depending on the content of the presentation you may or may not be comfortable in handing a copy of the presentation over. If you have just written a recommendation for their 5 year international expansion strategy or have been specific in exactly how to increase traffic and conversion online, you may feel that you have just given the company some free consultancy, without the need for them to employ you. So, if you are uncomfortable handing over your IP, then say that you will email them a soft copy later. At least you can then wait for the interview feedback before deciding to actually send it.

Check and check again

Whilst we’re on the topic of presentations, please do not forget to ask a 3rd party to read and check it for spelling mistakes. I cannot tell you how often I have corrected grammar and typos the day before a candidate’s interview.

Good luck! If you need any help then contact me.

Maarten Jonckers