Sit or stand for your project interview?

I am often asked if it is better to sit or stand during the project interview.  Both can work but really it depends on a few things:  What does the presentation space look like?  How will the panel be seated and where will the presenters be in relation to them?  What sort of visual support will you be using?  How will presenters interact with the visual support tools like slides or boards? When are you presenting?

Because of this, it is better to think about how the set up will enhance your ability to communicate your message in a memorable and impactful way while fostering a connection with the selection panel.

Most often, I suggest that the presenters stand during the prepared presentation then bring their chairs in to the middle of the space across from the panel for Q & A.  The reasoning behind this is multifaceted:

  • When an audience is seated and looks up at the presenter, they subconsciously perceive the presenter as an authority.  We do want the panel to think of you as an expert.
  • When the panel sits across from you in more of a meeting style, they see you as a colleague.  This has value as well.
  • While it may be more comfortable, many presenters have a hard time maintaining energy when presenting from a seated position.  So we don’t want to drag down the enthusiasm, particularly if the team is sandwiched in the middle of other presentations.
  • When presenting from a seated position and using slides, the panel tends to look more at the moving slides and hear the presenters voice.  I prefer that the presenter be the focus, rather than the slides, so a real connection can happen.  This is one reason I like my clients to bring their own screen and set it up off center in the presentation space.  This way we can place the speaker in the center making them the focus.
  • By standing, it makes it much easier and less awkward for the presenter to guide the panel to look at certain elements of the slides and boards when they do not have to back out their chair and then walk over to the visual support.

I have had clients choose to present boardroom style and it has worked.  One solution that made it work was instead of having slides on the screen, we had two large computer monitors at each end of the table.

Go check out the space as soon as you can and figure out what set up will best support you in communicating your message and in connecting with the panel.