This case study is part of the The Quintessential Careers Executive Interview Case Studies, which take you through the interview process as seen through the eyes of executives and covers some of the unexpected contingencies, demands, and developments that can occur during a series of executive interviews. Return to the main page of the Quintessential Careers Executive Interview Case Studies.
As told to Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Description of interview process: Although employers sometimes ask the candidate to deliver a presentation as part of an interview, “Michael D. Simone” gave a presentation on his own initiative at his interview for a CFO position with a $50-million AV systems integration group in the Mid-Atlantic region. This interview marked the first time Simone had used a presentation in an interview.
Simone was sought for the position by a recruiter, from whom he requested company background information to prepare. “She was not able to provide much help other than directing me to the company Website,” Simone recalls. When he mentioned that he planned to use an interview presentation, Simone learned that the recruiter had never heard of an interview presentation. “At first I could tell that I was not the recruiter’s top choice,” Simone says. He believes both the quality of his questions and his persistence in responding to them persuaded the recruiter to begin to consider Simone the top candidate.
To create his interview presentation, Simone used a service called InterviewBest and followed the service’s step-by-step guide that enables users to include or exclude any of the suggested pages. “I chose to use some of the examples as is, modified others to suit my needs, as well as using some of my own ideas,” Simone says. He found the actual process of creating the presentation extremely helpful as interview preparation. “After completing the presentation, I was ready for any question they had for me,” he said. “I had a success story ready to go for each question and/or situation that arose.”
Simone’s completed 12-page presentation included:
- Cover page
- Position Requirements (directly from job description)
- My Match with the Position Requirements (content from resume and success stories) and Additional Areas of Expertise (content from resume)
- Outstanding Accomplishments (Success stories, including content from resume and InterviewBest’s libraries)
- Personal Success Factors (examples and modified examples from InterviewBest’s library, along with Simone’s own content)
- Strategic Action Plan (examples and modified examples from InterviewBest’s library, along with Simone’s own content)
- Why Hire Me? (content from resume and success stories)
- Closing Questions (content from InterviewBest’s library)
- Contact Information
Simone also uploaded his photo and the company logo to personalize the presentation.
(Although Simone did not want his presentation published for confidentiality reasons, InterviewBest founder Eric Kramer provided a similar sample presentation, which is reprinted with permission.
The presentation enabled Simone to deliver key points describing the employer’s challenges and how he could meet them. He told the interview panel that he would:
- Improve communications among departments.
- Ensure the accuracy and clarity of financial reports.
- Take the team from the current status quo of “customer-service focused” to “entrepreneurial-big picture focused.”
- Conduct an actionable competitive analysis.
Candidates might wonder how to arrange for the appropriate technology for an interview presentation that the employer is not expecting. Simone simply had his presentation professionally printed and bound rather than projecting his slides.
Simone reports that the interview panel members were impressed by the presentation’s content and “well-organized approach that systematically answered their most important questions.”
Outcome: Simone got and accepted the job offer.
Lessons learned/What the candidate would do differently if faced with the same situation: If he were interviewing in the future, Simone says he would definitely use an interview presentation again. However, he would “conduct a more thorough investigation of the prospective company.”
Simone’s advice to others who want to employ an interview presentation: “Don’t get caught up in following the presentation item by item and page by page. I used it as a conversation piece and a reference tool. It is also an excellent leave-behind to remind the interviewer about the important discussion points of your interview.”
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.