5 Tips for the Dreaded Interview Presentation

I am blessed to formally announce that I started a Health & Life Sciences Librarian job at UCLA a couple weeks ago! For this post, I wanted to write about this process. However, I’m going to be very specific about the presentation that is often required in librarian interview, especially for academic institutions. This comes from my experience presenting at UCLA as well as watching an interviewee’s presentation last week! We already have a fantastic post Acing Your Interview Presentation that I would recommend consulting because it has some great tips. Also, please watch this fantastic presentation about interview presentations by Lisa Hinchliffe.

I just wanted to add to these existing resources based upon my own experience interviewing, being a recruiter in a former career, and having various careers which have required me to be in many different types interviews.

  1. Personalize, personalize, personalize. You really want to show the institution that this interview is for them. Take a screenshot from their website and include it within the presentation, research their catalog or one of their special collections, and/or use their school colors or mascot in your content. If you are asked to speak about a specific subject area, find that program on their website and integrate their mission statement, program requirements, language, what-have-you, to align with your presentation.
  2. Do Your Research. The internet is an amazing place. Caution: I am NOT advocating plagiarism. Always credit your sources. However, check out some YouTube videos about a specific subject required for your presentation. Find an existing LibGuide or research tool from the institution you are interviewing for that can help with your presentation (See 1). Search for presentations, maybe through your own institutional repository, referencing your topic. The University of Illinois has IDEALS. Your institution might have something similar. These resources exist for a reason! Perhaps you have to demonstrate instruction for a topic you know nothing about…let’s use computer science as an example. Find someone that works in that field and talk to them! Ask them what they would like to see in a presentation. Talk to a professor and/or student in that field. Do you know a librarian in another institution that specializes in this area? Talk to them! This will help you to narrow down your presentation and focus in on what is most important.
  3. Move away from that podium! This might depend on the physical setup of the room, but I think it is very important to move from behind the podium and closer to the physical presentation. This also engages the audience while you engage with your presentation. The presentation I observed at UCLA was well done, but I had a hard time following what the interviewee was presenting while she was behind the podium. I found myself looking at her rather than presentation that she probably worked very hard creating. Again, work with your environment, but try your best to engage with the audience while you directly refer to the presentation.
  4. Practice beforehand with others! Does this seem obvious? Yes. Try your best to set up a time with friends (library and non-library), classmates, instructors, anyone really, to get some feedback about your presentation. Sometimes there are parts of the presentation that we really want to include. But that doesn’t mean it has to be in the presentation. Honest feedback from colleagues will help you determine how to proceed. They can also tell you if you’re talking too fast/slow (you can also audiorecord yourself for this). Do you have too much text? Not enough? How is your eye contact? This can be hard to gauge on your own, so it’s great to seek feedback.
  5. Make it easy to understand. You are likely presenting to individuals working in the library. However, that doesn’t mean everyone has the same function. There could be technical services, music librarians, archivists, access services, and others. In many interview processes, all of the people attending can submit comments to the search committee. So make sure you are using language that anyone within a library setting can understand. This will also help to demonstrate that you can work with patrons and others that may not know all the fancy library lingo.

I do hope these tips help you when creating, practicing, and giving your presentation. I know it can be extraordinarily nerve-wracking to present to a group of people that are evaluating you. However, do remember that the presentation is not the only part of the interview process. You are being evaluated based upon your credentials, your experience, your references, your demeanor, and interview questions. Don’t forget to also focus upon these areas.

Does anyone else have other interview tips or experiences that have proven helpful?

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