Interview Tip

Dec 25, 2012

Hi everyone,

I have secured a interview for a Trainer and have been asked to deliver a 10 min presentation to four people as a part of the interview process.The Trainer is required to deliver role specific training for systems training in the organisations from consultant to CEO.

I am not able to think of a topic through which I can wow the interview panel and get the job.I have some thoughts in my mind like deliver a trick or tip on MS word or Outlook or any other day to day software the interview panel uses in their day to day routine.But I am not sure which topic or which tip or trick for which software  to choose and how to deliver.

Also, how can I make it interactive and engaging and do a training activity or make a sample quick reference card for them to practice or any other way I can cover it in 10-12 min and get winning results.

The role also involves creating e-learning modules but I am not sure which topic to choose and how to make it interactive and engaging.I will get whiteboard and a projector to present my presentation.

Please give me your suggestions on the above .It will be great if someone can share some samples as well .


11 Replies
papercupmachine nac

Every job seeker knows there isn't much time to make a positive impression during an interview. But have you ever stopped to consider how short your window of opportunity actually is? According to a survey from Robert Half International, it may be 10 minutes less

Sixty percent of human-resources managers polled said they form a positive or negative option of candidates within 10 minutes. Some make impressions even more quickly; 18 percent of respondents said they need just five minutes to draw conclusions about an interviewee.

How can you make the most of the little time you have? Here are some tips:

Arrive on time. Although no one tries to be late, it's easy to find yourself scrambling around on the morning of your interview as the meeting time draws closer.

One way to ensure you're not late is to aim to arrive half an hour early. You'll give yourself some leeway in case traffic is worse than expected or you get lost.

If you find you have time to spare, use it to review your résumé, check your appearance in the restroom and make sure your cellphone has been turned off before stepping into the employer's office. Show up five to 10 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start to prove that you're punctual.

Bring reinforcements. Don't arrive to the interview empty-handed. Bring extra copies of your resume and any work samples you submitted or were asked to provide. Also prepare a list of references in case the interviewer requests this information. Compiling this document ahead of time is a good way to show you're prepared.

Also pack a notepad and pen before heading out the door. During the interview, jot down key points about the job or company. These details will come in handy when crafting a thank-you note to the hiring manager and when evaluating the job if it's offered to you.

Shake hands like you mean it. It sounds clichéd, but a firm, confident handshake is important. In a CareerBuilder survey, more than one-quarter of hiring managers say a  weak hand shake is a mark against potential hires.

Not sure if your handshake passes muster? Practice with a friend ahead of time. Another tip: Smile as you shake hands. It'll reaffirm the self-assured attitude you're trying to convey.

Don't skip the small talk. One of the best ways to build immediate rapport with a potential employer is with small talk. Make a point to comment about the traffic, the weather or your weekend plans. Avoid sensitive topics and jokes.

Be sure you don't ramble on. As the name implies, small talk should take up only a little of the total conversation. Look to the hiring manager for a cue that it's time to talk business.

Assess your surroundings. Once seated in the interview room, take a moment to survey your surroundings, especially if you're meeting in the hiring manager's office. Photos, diplomas, mementos, tchotchkes and other items can tell you a lot about the person on the other side of the desk. You may learn of shared interests or experiences that you can mention to establish a more lasting connection. For example: "I see that you attended State University as well. I bet you miss Tony's Pizza as much as I do."

Slow down. If you're like most job candidates, you'll be a nervous wreck -- at least on the inside. One result of all that adrenaline is that you may talk more quickly than normal, causing your words to jumble together.

If you find your mouth moving 100 miles per hour, force yourself to take a breath and calm down. It does no good to give the perfect answer if the hiring manager can't understand a word of it.

Give yourself a moment to compose your thoughts before responding. Then, speak clearly and at a comfortable pace. Try to maintain as natural a tone as possible. Take another breath if you start to speed up again.

Watch your body language. Body language plays a signicant role in the message you convey. For example, wiggling your foot, biting your nails or frantically clicking the pen in your hand will make you seem nervous, bored or distracted -- and likely annoy the hiring manager.

Instead, strike a confident pose. Look the interviewer in the eye when speaking, and lean forward in your chair to show you're engaged. Just don't overdo it. An exaggerated or unnatural pose can come across as, well, just plain weird.

Bob S

Hi Amanda,

First.... congrats on landing the interview!  With today's busy work schedules, I'm sure they would not be wasting their time or yours if they were not seriously interested in you.

As for your questions, here are some thoughts I hope you find useful... 

Topic: I might suggest the following:

  1. A systems training topic that is a typical "pain point" for learners. You know, the kind of thing they always struggle with so you can show off how you would help them overcome it. (Note: Be sure and explain why you chose that topic to the interviewers to earn double bonus points)
  2. Go completely the other way, and choose a highly interactive "soft skills" topic like Coaching, Time Management, etc etc. This choice has more risk but more opportunity to set you apart from the crowd and really do something FUN with them. The exercises for this kind of topic can be a blast. For example... imagine the reactions of asking one of the interviewers to wear a blindfold while the others help direct him/her towards throwing ping pong balls into a wastepaper basket to illustrate coaching styles.

Wow Factor: Be bold... be fun... be remembered.  Considering catching their attention right up front with an unusual statement or exercise. Would it catch your attention if they started the interview off with "Here are the top 5 interview mistakes we've made"?    It would mine! If they are hiring someone to do stand-up training in this day and age, then they probably want someone who will be engaging and remembered. Give it to 'em! Just remember to keep it fun and light.

Exercises/Tools:  You might consider the idea of having them build their own Job Aid as part of the training. Create a template they can write in on, even provide the thin Sharpies and a laminating sheet! Explain (pre-presentation) the value of job aids and the increase in retention of people write things down, and how you've created an exercise that leverages both concepts.

Preamble/Overview: No matter what I would be sure and set up expecatations with the panel as to why you chose what you chose, the rationale for the exercises/activities you put in, etc etc. In other words, set expectations clearly so that when they see various things during your presentation they go "aha, that's what she was talking about".  It helps them feel empowered/in-the-know and also lets them know you are a thoughtful professional who has a plan; both good for you.

Remember, they are hiring a stand-up trainer for a reason. And they want you or they wouldn't invest the time in this sort of interview. So have fun, be confident, and let you shine through!

Good luck and let us know when you land the gig,


Jerson  Campos

I just wanted to share my recent experience. During an interview I was asked If I could provide some samples of my work. Well being that I have never really produced any eLearning courses  (Most of my stuff is ILT) I really didn't have any samples to provide. I did have plenty of software experience, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and recently Captivate and Storyline. When I asked if there was anything specific that they wanted, they just said I could do the samples on whatever topic I wanted. (By the way, I only had 4 days to come up with a sample). I ended up showing them 2 courses. One that I created in Storyline, and one that I created in Captivate. The Captivate course was on how to make peanut butter sandwiches.

But I also provided the process I used to develop the course to include my mindmap and the ADDIE process. That's what really impressed them. Is that I had knowledge to take a simple idea through the entire process of development. That might be something you want to do as well. Show them that you can develop the course and take it through the ADDIE process. Also show them a few cool things you have learned on your own, (or can duplicate) in your course. I was able to also impress them with a few things I was able to do in other programs (photoshop) and bring them into my course.

I ended up getting the job (we use captivate, which is why I haven't been active in this forum recently). My suggestion is to pick a simple topic you are already comfortable with and show them that you have the skills to develop it.

Natalia Mueller

Hi Amanda,

Congrats on the opportunity! I had an interview just like this once upon a time. I've since been on the other side and can also tell you what I looked for in an interviewee. 

Ultimately, it's not the topic you choose that will wow them. It will be your personality and delivery. However, the topic can definitely help highlight areas they are specifically looking for- like the ability to break down steps and make system instruction sound easy (versus the tendency some have to over complicate it or use technical terminology to describe the steps). If the job ultimately trains multiple roles throughout all levels of the organization, I'm guessing there's a good chance a lot of the recipients may not be in technical roles. If you can't know your exact audience, take a good guess. At the very least, at least a good portion of your audience will probably not be in IT. 

That means they are likely looking for someone who can train a technical topic in laymen terms, simplify the process without talking down to them, be friendly and put the learners at ease but still professional enough to put in front of the CEO. Choose something you are already familiar with so you are confident and prepared to answer questions. 

It would be really great if you could incorporate eLearning elements in the presentation so they can see that part of your skill set. 

Do you have Articulate Studio? Storyline? PowerPoint? You could teach them how to use a rapid  eLearning tool to create an interactive scenario. This would demonstrate an element of your development skills while at the same time fulfill the requirements of the interview. If that's not your strength, maybe something in PowerPoint that relates to training like "How to insert hyperlinks to make PPT interactive" or "How to use PPT to make your own eLearning graphics". A search of this community will find you tutorials on both of those topics.  

Whatever you choose, absolutely create a handout to give them just as you would in a standard ILT course. Create your own layout/template so it's a professional document. Use the whiteboard to write "Parking Lot" and write out any questions they have that you don't know the answer. We would ALWAYS ask them questions until we got to one they didn't know. The point was not that they always know the right answer, it was about how they handled it when they didn't know the right answer. Have a plan for what you will do if they ask a question you don't know the answer to. I would ask the room (even the other interviewers) "has anyone seen this before? No? I'll write in the parking lot and if we don't find the answer while we're here I'll get your information and email you once I find out. "  That sort of thing.

Making it interactive with that amount of time can be challenging but even asking them questions is interactive. It certainly helps to keep it engaging. Have some options and follow up questions to choose from -"Have you ever done X? How did it work out?" Go for open ended questions so you don't get just a "Yes" or a "No". 

PRACTICE. Out loud and several times. Knowing it in your head just isn't the same. 

Best of luck to you!!!

Alan Landers

Hi Amanda,  First congratulations on getting the interview.  That is an accomplishment in itself.

Don't put too much into your presentation.  You only have 10 minutes.  The old show biz adage is "leave them wanting more".  Cover your topic, but don't overload your presentation.  Natalia is right when she says your personality and delivery are most important.  You have to "fit" the team.

Okay, some ideas:  What do you know well?  People get themselves in trouble when the try to train on something about which they know little.  All of the common MS Office software has little secrets or shortcuts that many people don't know.  Find one that's very useful and demonstrate: 1) what it does, 2) why that's a benefit, and 3) teach them how to use it.  You may want to ask the panel to bring a laptop to the presentation.

Capture the function using Storyline or someother screen capture software and create a very short eLearning module.  Add one of the characters and narration - they're impressive (especially the videos).  Give them a little quiz (1 or 2 questions: ask them for the answer and you can enter it, show them what happens if they answer incorrectly).  Replay the demo or create a review of the tip.  Let them try the tip on their laptop.  Provide feedback, if required.  Distribute a handout on how to do it and provide a link to sites with other tips.

You can probably do this in 10 minutes if you just show one tip.  Time it out at home a few times before you go to the interview.

Topic Relevance, Personality, Presentation, Graphic Quality, Timing, Interaction - these are important variables that they will probably be judging.

Have fun with it.  Hope this helps.

Break a leg,


Alex Watson

Hi Amanda,

You've been provided with some great responses here. I also note you posted this on Christmas morning Your comittment and enthusiasm are definitely bonuses and I'm sure this will stand you in good stead.

When I've been in similar situations, I have tended to try and find something simple but that everyone can relate too. It may well be some outlook trick, or useful excel function, but it could just as easily be something from the everyday world. I once did a mini presentation on the best way to make a cup of tea! You could try referencing something from popular culture. What suits your personality? 

The best way to make it interactive or engaging is to involve your audience. Make it relevant for them.

One of the difficult aspects of delivering systems training can often be the varying levels of ability. This is where you're personality and ability to communicate comfortably with others comes in handy. 

Best of luck with the interview. 


Elizabeth Israel

As somebody who has been an interviewer and have listened to people do a test teach one thing I've noticed is that those who are passionate about their topic tend to come across as more confident and competent.  It concerns me that you state you don't know what topic to present to the group.  This is an excellent opportunity to make another "touchpoint" with the hiring manager by gaining clarification as to what they are looking for.  Keep the email short and explain that you want to ensure you are focused and exceed the manager's/team's expectations.

Secondly, I think the poster who suggested you present on how you created a course along with showing the course could make a great presentation.  Start out by asking "tell me 3 words that describes your best training experience. . .tell me 3 words that describes your worst. . ."  that immediately gets people involved.  Go from there and involve them in the discussion but make sure that you practice the good presentation skills of beginning/middle/end - tell a story!

As others have said, 10 minutes goes by very quickly. Good luck!

Alan Landers

Hi Natalia,

I'm glad you asked that question about captivate and storyline. I've used authorware, captivate, articulate, smartbuilder, several PPT add ons, and now storyline. I evend did a little Flash and HTML coding for a while. There are strengths and weaknesses to each.  But I think there's more to this decision.

As a former VP of Training for a Fortune 250, I liked my instructional designers to be a flexible as possible. I wanted them to know as many programs as possible. That way we could take advantage of the unique capabilities of each program, be really creative, and have the tools to develop training that actually delivered measureable results.

It was just as important, to me, that my team possessed as many skills as possible. Learning new software was part of that process. I made them learn as many different programs as possible not just for design purposes,but also for their careers. In tough times like these, the more flexible - adaptable - and open to change you are increases your chances for success.  Most of the people who worked for me now head training departments of their own or are consultants helping others.  I still hear from them how much they liked that I made them continually expand their skills and creativity.

Hope this helps,



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