Help me entertain the interview panel
March 22, 2013 5:21 AM   Subscribe

I have a job interview! (project manager kind of job in UK education sector). The invite says I will have to give the interview panel a short tutorial on a "subject of my choosing". I need ideas!

Dear hive, please help me brainstorm as I am feeling stuck. In a couple of weeks, I will have a job interview for project manager position at university (I am already a project manager now but at a different university). The invite to the interview says that I will have to give the interview panel a short tutorial (up to ten minutes) on anything really to check my "ability to effectively engage and communicate to stakeholders within the University" (whatevs). The letter then says "suitable examples include a card trick, folding a napkin, speaking a sentence in a language other than English or any other interesting (and entertaining!) subject".The tutorial can be about anything that can be reasonably demonstrated within an office environment, and I will have to bring any necessary materials with me. I am feeling very un-creative and stuck, help me get unstuck please!
posted by coffee_monster to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Origami. Just needs paper, and you can get them to join in.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:28 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

From a business perspective which may be different from academia, I would choose something from what I currently do, let's say using a project management tool. Unless you are somehow feeling judged on the creativity and the emphasis is on "entertaining"? I'd hesitate to do a subject that wasn't exciting to me and something I already knew how to do. So what are they judging you on? Creativity or ability to introduce a learning objective and remediate/assess the learning?
posted by RoadScholar at 5:45 AM on March 22, 2013

Choose something you're an expert in. Do not try and acquire a new skill just for this demonstration.

So, what do you do well? Any hobbies? What's an aspect of a hobby you enjoy?
Who's a historical figure you enjoy or revere? What's a little-understood national holiday that you could explain? Etc.

In the past, I have done these types of things on how to read a ruler, what is geocaching and how to get started, and how to use a website common to all of the audience members.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:00 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Teach them how to step through an index card. Goes down a storm with all ages!
posted by car01 at 6:00 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Has there been a FPP on the blue which you found completely fascinating, which you could describe to them?

What about a time when you've been out with friends and had them either rapt or rolling with laughter talking about something?

What about a thing which you feel super-geeky about that not many other people "get"?
posted by greenish at 6:02 AM on March 22, 2013

Teach them to make the perfect cup of coffee in a French press or a similarly fancy manual method. Then serve them all coffee and have a cup together. Hearts will be won.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Key here is definitely tutorial! Make sure you teach them something they can do after your session - 75% of their candidates will present.

Check out some craft books for age 5-7. I once taught a room full of people how to make spider costumes out of t-shirts, old tights and newspapers. Got the (extremely corporate) job. :)
posted by f3l1x at 6:21 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've attended a few of these presentations -- from my experience, I suggest you choose an interesting or entertaining topic (please don't teach me how to use MS Project :)) and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Find out what time you're allotted and make sure your presentation fits within it. You don't want to be rushed at the end, you don't want people walking out on you, and you don't want the interview host to have to cut you off.
posted by elmay at 7:16 AM on March 22, 2013

I agree that it should be something you are already interested in, as your passion will show through, but it should also be something that the audience has the potential to be interested in as well. I took a speech course and sat through a lot of presentations about favorite bands and particular car models. The best speeches made people want to tell their friends about the knowledge they learned immediately after. Presentations about secret knowledge (picking locks, secret clubs, debunking modern urban legends) and genuinely helpful and interesting how-tos (how to make this molecular gastronomy thing at your next dinner party) were particularly fascinating. If you do something about your hobby or interest, present it as if you are an anthropologist presenting this fascinating subculture, as opposed to a group of people who might want to join; people want to know about the lingo, unspoken rules, and weird facts of being a model train builder (just look at Ask Metafilter), not necessarily how they can build a model a train.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 8:25 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had to do this twice, and I (a houseplant hoarder) chose repot a plant all while talking about houseplant care and propagation. That was the five minute version. The half-hour version I had to do a separate time involved removing pups from an overcrowded Aloe and repotting; in that version the attendees all got to pot up their own pup while I potted up my mother plant.

Beware - (up to) ten minutes is NOT a long time when you're trying to introduce and accomplish an activity, so group learning participation in an under-ten-minute presentation is iffy and I'd advise just sharing your own knowledge.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2013

One of my favorite demos is doing mail-merge from Word to email. It's useful, most people don't know it can be done or how to do it, and it's not that hard. In this scenario, I'd bring my laptop, ask everyone for their email address, and mail merge a thank you for the interview, during the interview. I throw in small jokes, and I often do a detour on keyboard shortcuts. Or, do a google search/ docs/ spreadsheet/ calendar demo. Google has lots of cool capabilities that most people don't use. I'd especially do something useful and work-related more than something cute, unless you have skills like juggling, playing ukulele, etc.
posted by Mom at 11:02 AM on March 23, 2013

An update - I didn't get the job but the "how to step through index card" trick worked very well. Cheers mefites!
posted by coffee_monster at 5:15 AM on April 12, 2013

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