GUEST BLOG: Adapting famous figures’ techniques for job interviews

UoY Careers Rocket illy Guest blog written by Josh Hansen, careers writer and blogger.

Interviews are often a source of dread and stress for candidates. Knowing what to say and how to demonstrate you are best for a position is a hard task for anyone.

Everyday many interviews are conducted of public figures. Though they aren’t job interviews, they serve a similar purpose – to inform the audience of something.

As a jobseeker, you can use the presentation skills of famous figures in your interviews to turn a great opportunity into a secured position.

So what skills and techniques can we learn for interview success?


Steve Jobs was adept at giving presentations. One of the key aspects behind his skill was preparation. He would practice his speech for hours in his office to make sure he had the right tone and pronunciation on all the key points he wanted to convey to the audience.

By practising your answers to typical interview questions you can really make sure that you don’t forget what you want to say and that you are placing the focus on the right aspects in your interview.

Steve Jobs would often practise alone, however you can practise with a close friend or a family member. Just make sure that you add a little character and emotion so it doesn’t sound like you are reading from a script.

Know When to Add Gaps

Bill Clinton makes sure he gives great speeches. One of the reasons behind this is that he places specific emphasis on a couple of words in key sentences. He does this is by using the stop and go method. This is where a presenter will pause briefly on a couple of words.

This stop and go method allows the audience to really take in what the presenter is saying and retain those key points. In your interview you can do this by pausing on the key facts.

For instance: “I created a sales script which increased revenue by. 65. Percent.”  By adding in a pause after the ‘by’ and the ‘65’ you are emphasising the amount you benefited your previous employer.

You could take that one step further as Bill Clinton has done by adding in ‘dead air’ to a presentation. This is where you take a pause midsentence to catch the attention of the audience and refocus on them. An example of this would be: “No-one in my company [pause] had previously been trained to use that equipment. I [paused] trained myself and was proficient within one month.”

Though don’t pause for too long or it could sound too staged!

Tell a Story in Your Interview

Giving a one sentence answer in an interview is like giving a single bullet point on a PowerPoint slide and using that in a presentation. The best presenters, including Gary Vaynerchuck, tell a story in their speeches.

Because it is an interview you can’t go into too much detail, but you can adapt this particular presentation skill into a simple three step story. What was the problem, what did you do and what was the outcome.

The story should take only a short thirty seconds, but by giving it as sequence of events you are demonstrating more than one skill, you are also showing you are a problem solver and you can give clear reports on actions which have been taken. A simple one sentence cannot portray that.

Show Emotion

Emotion is a way to connect to the audiences’ minds and get them to pay attention. Many hiring managers admit they are looking for someone who is passionate about their work, the company or, better, both.

Many presenters will also become emotional onstage and demonstrate they truly adore their particular subject. You can do the same within an interview, as long as you don’t go overboard.

Maintain Eye Contact

To portray emotion you can use the tone of your voice and slight hand gestures. Always remember however, to not lose eye contact with your audience. When they become emotional, people often start to use excessive hand gestures and they will often look away from their listeners.

Eye contact is very important as it creates a personal link between the person speaking and the audience. Therefore if you can keep eye contact you can ensure the hiring manager will remember you and what you have said in your speech.

Use the Power of Three

Many presenters use the power of three to grab the attention of their audience. Three is a rather special number. It is large enough to give credence to what you are saying, but also small enough that the audience will remember it.

Bill Gates has used this to great effect all the time. His “three myths that block progress for the poor” is a particularly good example of how the number can be used to grab attention.

Adapt this for your interview skills by delivering results in threes. For instance, name three benefits to your previous business where you implemented an initiative. If there were more than three, stick to the three the hiring manager would be most likely to care about.

If you are asked why you want the job give three of the best reasons, rather than a long list. By keeping to the power of three your answers will be strong and memorable.

Keep It Simple

Jill Bolte Taylor is one of the best female presenters in the world. She deals with rather complex topics for many, yet she can have a crowd give her a standing ovation whenever she presents.

Her secret is not complex, in fact it is the opposite – she breaks everything down so it is clear and straightforward. Her speech is simple without being patronising and she presents a lot of information in a clear and understanding way.

In an interview you can do the same. Although the hiring manager may be someone who knows and understands jargon associated with your career, you should keep the content simple and try not to speak in too complicated technical talk.


There are many techniques to learn from the greatest presenters, yet many of them are interconnected and can complement each other, giving you the best chances of interview success.

Josh writes on a wide range of career and employment related subjects for a variety of online sources such as the Huffington Post UK, Brazen Careerist and Career Enlightenment. This piece was written with Edison Red in mind, a presentation skills company in London.