How to show employers you've got what it takes

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When hiring managers ask for a presentation or test work to prove employability, it's time to impress.

Experience is the golden accompaniment to academic credentials, and many employers ask for in-person proof that you've got what it takes. You might be asked to give a presentation or perform some test work-regardless of what the task, employers are looking to see if you have the right mind-set and abilities for the role.

Here's how to give a knockout performance and seal the deal.

Preparation is key

No matter what the task, you will fail if you do not prepare correctly. Make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do and if you are unsure about anything, ask for a more detailed explanation.

The first thing to think about is the structure. If you've been asked to submit a Marketing Strategy for a new product or to give a presentation on a particular topic, establish a framework of how you are going to approach the task or presentation before you get into the detail.

Employers want to see that graduates have really thought about the task at hand. If you're given a deadline, work towards it and let the task mature on your mind for a couple of days. This will help you bring more rounded and stronger ideas to the project.

Cracking the content

There are two options for these types of challenges. Do you...

A) Aim to stand out by delivering a innovative, edgy task/presentation.

B) Play it safe and solid to give the impression of a dependable employee.

Both options have their pros and cons. The important thing is that you show employers you understand the project and have put real thought into it. Half measures won't do and some employers will appreciate you going the extra mile in researching your presentation or test work.

For presentations you want to strike the right balance between being thorough and detailed, and not sending the employer to sleep. When you put together your presentation, ask yourself if the information is vital or if it could be shortened or cut. Keep a tight hold on what you're saying and be ruthless in your editing.

In test work the goal is often the opposite. Your work should show a real depth of understanding and close attention to detail. Employers want to see you have thought about the project and put time into your approach. One easy way to strengthen your test work is to include a supporting document outlining the reasoning behind your decisions.


Delivery can make or break a presentation, especially if the role you are going for is customer or client facing. The key to good delivery is confidence and clarity: be confident in what you have to say, and be clear in how you say it. Enunciate your words, project your voice and speak slowly-it's easy to rush in a high-pressure situation.

Another way to confidently round off a presentation is throw it out to the audience for questions. Just make sure you know your material and are prepared to explain why you made your decisions.

A side note on delivery: check the technical facilities beforehand. If you've got an amazing slideshow saved to your memory stick with no projector or computer to display it, then all your hard work is for nought.

For delivering test work, a little bit of smartening up goes a long way. Pay attention to the little things, such as adding nice headers and footers to Word documents, colour coding and line division on spread sheets, and nice title pages for everything. If the look and feel is professional, employers will be able to imagine you in the position more easily.

Test work and presentations are an opportunity to put your university-earned skills to good use. Embrace the challenge and show employers you are the real deal with the skills to succeed in the role-after all, you wouldn't have made it to this stage if they didn't think you did.