Tough Interview Question - Tell me about the most significant written report or presentation that you’ve completed

Tell me about the most significant written report or presentation that you’ve completed.

Similar interview questions:
Give me an example of the most important writing you have delivered in your work.
What would you consider to be your most impressive presentation to date?
How are your writing skills? Can you give me an example?
Do you prefer to present your findings on paper or in front of a group?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to assess your written and verbal communication skills specifically with professional writing and presentations. The interviewer is giving the candidate the opportunity to choose what is considered to be the most significant, which also provides insight.

The best approach to answering this question:
This is a question where the ideal approach is to have a leave-behind document already prepared and with you in your portfolio. Then simply refer to the document in your answer as a show-and-tell of your report/presentation and offer to leave it with the interviewer. However, if you are going to be referring to a report with confidential or internal-only information, you can reference it at a general level, but you will need to remove and/or redact any confidential information before sharing within the interview. If you do not have the information with you in the interview, you can offer to send it as a follow-up step after the interview.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"Probably my most significant report was a white paper that I wrote, which was recently posted on our company website for public distribution. This report started as an internal report that I wrote for my boss on the state of the industry. He then forwarded it to his boss and she asked me if I could broaden it out to have a cross-industry perspective for public distribution. After some rework of the input, I was able to produce this completed white paper. I have a copy here with me today if you would like to see it…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"During my internship, I was asked to research the top providers for a type of software that our department was considering acquiring. I did the research to assemble a report that was similar in content and structure to what you would see in a Gartner report. It included a SWOT analysis of each product offering along with the level of maturity of the product in the marketplace. My report ended up being the foundation of my final presentation, which I gave in front of my department at the end of my internship…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"I don’t really do a lot of actual writing in my job. I guess I’m mostly known for being the guy who forwards on funny jokes to others in e-mails. I also like doing some rewriting of the jokes to fit our company and what’s going on in our department. Most of the time, I get good feedback about that, but there are times that they can get, well, let’s just say they push the envelope a bit. I like being edgy. So, yeah, I would say I’m an edgy writer…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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