Company presentations

Company presentations are rarely a formal part of the employer selection process, but they are your crucial chance to add a face and personality to a paper CV.So what are the golden rules for impressing employers over a vol-au-vent or two?

1. Do your research

Employers come to these presentations focused on impressing you, but you have to do some work as well. Don’t turn up and ask what the company does, find out before you go. An insight into the organisation and what it offers recruits is easily gleaned from their website. This gives you a head-start at a presentation, and also helps narrow down which events to attend. Don’t assume you know what types of job companies offer – engineering firms have non-technical management roles, for example, and beauty companies don’t only employ women.

2. Ask intelligent questions
If you’ve done your research, you should already be closer to asking the right questions. Remember that it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it – be enthusiastic and talk about what you want from your career. Don’t ask questions that were answered in the presentation, they only show you weren’t listening. If stuck, you can always ask about training, which suggests you are interested in self-development. But don’t be formulaic. Companies usually bring along staff from a range of functions, so ask something appropriate to their role.

3. Interact
Talk to everyone, not just the recruitment manager – you never know who is on interview panels or helps run assessment centres. This isn’t just pragmatic, it also shows people skills. You need to be the type of person an organisation wants. You have to have the right spirit, and you have to look like you’re a mixer. We look to see how individuals interact with the other people, for example, since interacting with clients is important in a job.

4. Don’t dominate
Talking is good, talking too much is bad. So don’t dominate one individual’s time. You might think you’re showing leadership, or at least interest, but they will think you’re selfish and not team-focused. Sell yourself, but don’t try too hard and end up sounding arrogant. Be careful how you treat others, as well – don’t be competitive and don’t think putting them down makes you look impressive.

5. Establish a contact
Try to get the details of one company contact. Ask what you can do to follow up. Get a business card and email them the next day. Many employers do not accept CVs on such occasions, and applications should really be tailored to each job. You could even consider having some business cards made – it looks professional and is still relatively unusual.

6. Look smart
If you don’t know what to wear to a presentation, ask someone at the careers service. You don’t usually need a suit, but you should look like you’ve made an effort and could fit in with the company. ‘Business casual’ is the norm, but it’s hard to know exactly what that means. Basically, jeans are too sloppy and a pin-striped suit is too much. As long as you’re tidy, clean and presentable you should be sorted. Look people in the eye, give them a firm handshake, and what you’re wearing will always matter less.

7. Don’t be too memorable
Fall asleep, get drunk or throw up somewhere and you’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons. But don’t take it all too seriously. You don’t want people to think they don’t want to work with you because you’re uptight. You need to be light-hearted, enthusiastic and fun, but not drunk. Smokers should try to avoid having a cigarette before they go, as many employers are anti-smoking. Talk to people before you lay into the food, but sitting and talking to your friends won’t make an impression on anyone.

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