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Why assess presentation skills in interviews
Good presentation skills are essential in various positions. They’re particularly important for:
- Salespeople, who sell a company’s products and services to prospective clients.
- HR Professionals, who represent their company to potential and current employees.
- Trainers, who prepare and deliver educational materials in classes and seminars.
- Marketers, who interact and network with industry professionals.
Senior-level employees should also have solid presentation skills, as they often need to present their ideas (e.g. to investors, executives) or announce goals and results to their teams.
The following sample presentation skills interview questions will help you evaluate candidates’ abilities:
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Examples of presentation skills interview questions
- How do you prepare before delivering a presentation?
- Describe a memorable presentation you’ve attended. What made it successful? (e.g. interesting topic, visual aids, entertaining speaker)
- How do you modify your presentations for different audiences? (e.g. people with and without technical backgrounds)
- Describe how you would present our company/products to a prospective client.
- What would you do if you noticed that your audience looked bored during a meeting?
- Describe a time when you had to announce bad news to your team.
- How do you prefer to communicate your team’s results to senior managers: through a detailed report or during an in-person meeting? Why?
- What tools do you use to create a presentation? (e.g. Powerpoint, SlideShare, Canva)
- When is it appropriate for speakers to use humor?
How to evaluate candidates’ presentation skills
- Candidates present themselves in their resumes and cover letters, so carefully read these documents. During interviews, test how well candidates describe their achievements.
- Candidates are likely to be prepared for typical interview questions (e.g. “What are your greatest strengths?”) Use less traditional situational questions to test whether they’re ready to manage real challenges on the job.
- Presentations should be brief and specific. Ask candidates about their current position, e.g. to describe a product they’re regularly using or explain a daily work procedure. Opt for people who manage to provide necessary details while holding your attention.
- A good presentation is also impassioned. You could ask candidates to describe something they like even if it’s not job-related. For example, their favorite TV character or one of their hobbies. This way, you’ll test how much enthusiasm candidates bring to your discussion.
- They are unprepared. During interviews, candidates should be prepared to talk about topics they’re familiar with, like past positions. Being unprepared indicates a lack of interest and difficulty in delivering presentations.
- They are not persuasive. Often, the goal of a presentation is to persuade your audience to take an action (e.g. buy your products.) Candidates who use engaging language and coherent arguments during interviews will be more likely to influence others.
- Their body language is uncomfortable. Good speakers are confident and maintain eye contact. Nervous candidates are less likely to keep their audience’s attention.
- They don’t listen to their audience. Good presentations involve interaction between speakers and audiences. Candidates should avoid answers that are too short or too long and should be able to tell when an audience understands their points or needs further clarification.