Giving Presentations for scientific sales jobs
At some second interviews for a scientific sales job you may be asked to give a short presentation. This is usually so that your interviewers can see how you handle the process. It is fair to say that, in most cases, the style of your presentation and how you come across is more important than the subject or content.
If you are given a choice of subjects, pick something that you find easy to talk about. Try to pick a subject that allows you to demonstrate your sales skills as well as possible, especially if you are a trainee and you know you are up against a candidate who has sales experience. Of course, you may have the title given to you by the interviewer. If so, then research the area carefully, find out as much information as you can to use in the presentation. If you are asked to give a technical presentation, don't make it too complicated - a Sales Manager should understand but a Human Resources person may not.
Common titles given for scientific sales job interviews are:
Describe why you want to work for the company.
Describe how you would go about the job, and what you can offer our company.
Choose one company's products and present it
What qualities do you possess that will make you a good sales person.
Every presentation must have a beginning, a middle and an end. This is a straight parallel to the sales process - an introduction, then product features turned into benefits for the customer, a summary and ask for the order. Just as you will do once you are in the scientific sales job you are interviewing for! On this basis, if you treat your presentation as selling yourself to your interviewer you can't go wrong.
Start off with a brief outline of what you are going to talk about. It is always wise to state that you will take questions at the end. If you let the interviewers ask questions when they feel like it, then you run the risk of them taking control, which you don't want to happen. If they do interrupt you, answer the question politely but briefly, then return to what you want to talk about.
Usually you will have access to an overhead projector. Whether you hand write the overheads you use or prepare them on a computer doesn't matter, as long as they are neat, have not too much on each one, and no spelling mistakes! When using an overhead, only show the part that is relevant to what you are saying and cover the rest with a piece of paper. If you show the whole thing at once, most people will read it all, and not listen to what you are saying. If you need to use a pen to point at something, remember that the overhead magnifies everything. If you are a bit nervous and your hand shakes slightly it will show clearly, so put the pen down on the screen. Don't be tempted to use a long pointer on the wall or screen, because by using one of these you have to turn your back on your audience - never a good idea.
Whatever you do, never read you own overheads, or a written speech. There is nothing wrong with having prompt cards to help you but remember that eye contact is important - the interviewers won't want to see the top of your head. Also remember not to repeat yourself, and don't be tempted to miss chunks out on the day because you are worried about the time. Always practice your presentation before hand and time it to make sure it runs for about the length of time you have been set. This is usually 5 - 10 minutes.
Once you have given the main part of your presentation always summarise it, thus giving an ending to the presentation. Then you need to close. Ask if there are any questions, and if so answer them. Again then you need to close - ask for an opinion of what the interviewers thought of your presentation. Is there any further information you can give them?
Closing a presentation is like closing a sale: listen to your audience and address any questions or issues that arise; ask for the order - in this case the job; once you have got it don't waffle and make the interviewer question their decision. Remember, all the time you are in the company you are being watched and assessed, not just during your presentation.