With the number of candidates for each job opening running into great numbers, employers have a tough job judging the merits of the applicants.

The final shortlist is generally called and sifted through using a variety of selection devices. On the campus, these might include a group discussion followed by a personal interview. All recruiters agree that at a certain level, technical competence and domain knowledge being equal, it is the soft skills that matter in a real world situation.

Consequently, there is an increasing trend with recruiters to ask the candidates to make presentations about their profiles and competencies so that they are in a better position to judge the applicant across various parameters. These include technical competence, ability to speak in public, body language, and above all the ability to present an issue in a convincing and persuasive manner. The ability to handle questions in the middle of the presentation also tells a lot about the candidate’s mental agility and nerves.

The Importance of Understanding PowerPoint in a Job Search

More and more companies are asking applicants to complete some test assignments before moving forward in the interview process. Often times these assignments are best completed using PowerPoint to organize your thoughts and present your ideas.

Despite being extremely easy and intuitive, making a PowerPoint presentation does require some skills so that you can manipulate the text, images and multimedia files for an effective presentation. Spend some time understanding how the software works and find out the utility of the various functions inbuilt into the package.

Beginners can take the help of PowerPoint templates to create a presentation that is consistent and smart. The templates ensure that the placement of the text and the images are standardized and do not float all over the place creating a jerky visual effect for the audience. If you do not have somebody to teach you the fundamentals then you can take recourse to a multitude of online tutorials.

Decide On the Design and Aesthetics

The aesthetics of the PowerPoint presentation will become evident to the interviewers in the very first few slides and make the all-important first impression with them.

Resist the tendency to become overly complicated with the design and animation as these are to be used only to highlight your presentation and not distract from the contents. The sort of business the company is engaged in should provide you an idea of the design aesthetics that would appeal to your audience.

You will appreciate that an engineering concern would require an approach that is quite different from that of an airline or law firm.

Develop the Message for Rationality, Clarity and Brevity

Too many people tend to rush in with too much to say. In fact you may even like to develop your message on a word processor instead of the PowerPoint so that repeated editing is made easy.

It is vital that you first decide what you want to say, and then divide the message up into logical sections. After having achieved that, it is vital that you make the message as concise as possible without compromising on lucidity.

While you are not expected to read the content of your slides during your presentation, it should also make sense to people who are viewing it without you being around to clarify.

Typically, a good way to structure your presentation is to include an introduction, and follow it up with a vision statement enumerating your career objectives and how you see your achieving it with the organization you are appearing for the interview. Make sure that the presentation includes your significant achievements that show your leadership skills as well as domain expertise. Include recommendations from people who are credible and then finish it off with a summary that resonates in the minds of the interviewers.

Exercise Strict Quality Control

Prepare your PowerPoint presentation well in advance of the interview date and review it till you are satisfied with the structure and the contents. Proofread it for errors of logic, facts, spelling and grammar as these will damage your credibility. Ensure it is no longer than five minutes and that the contents are compelling and bereft of controversy. Be completely familiar with the presentation so that even in case the equipment failure, you would not jeopardize your chances. Make a number of copies on CDs or pen drives that you can leave behind for the interviewers to peruse at leisure.

Author bio: Megan Foster is a career counsellor at a leading management school. She recommends using PowerPoint templates to build effective presentations for job interviews.