It doesn’t matter whether you and your team delivered good results, sometimes a cutback in staff can result in you being let go. If that’s happened to you recently you want to be prepared to show potential employers the positive impact you made at your last job.
Data on key metrics is one of the best ways to make your case. Instead of just putting some numbers on a slide for a presentation that is part of your job interview, use a graph instead (here’s an example of turning a table of numbers into a meaningful graph). If you are new to creating graphs in Excel, here’s how to get started the right way.
The basics of creating a graph in Excel
If you always had someone else create graphs in Excel or it’s been a long time since you had to create a graph yourself, you may want to start by reviewing the basic steps. Excel MVP Leila Gharani has a good article and video on how to create an Excel graph at https://www.xelplus.com/charts-basics/.
How to choose the right graph for your message
In my customized courses for financial professionals I explain that almost every financial or data message will fall into one of six categories. This makes it easier to select the graph based on the message you are communicating instead of trying to figure out what graph looks “cool”. This video from one of my live conference sessions outlines the six categories of messages: https://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/how-to-choose-the-right-chart-in-excel/.
Make professional looking graphs in Excel
The default graphs in Excel are not as clear as you will want for a job interview presentation where you want to impress the recruiter and hiring manager. I have videos that show what default settings you should change to make the default column, bar, and line graphs clear.
Clear column graphs: https://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/7-steps-to-make-a-professional-looking-column-graph-in-excel-or-powerpoint/
Clear bar graphs: https://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/8-steps-to-make-a-professional-looking-bar-chart-in-excel-or-powerpoint/
Clear line graphs: https://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/7-steps-to-make-a-professional-looking-line-graph-in-excel-or-powerpoint/
Force Excel graphs to start at zero
When your data values are close together, sometimes Excel will automatically adjust the measurement axis. It won’t start at zero, making the message of the graph inaccurate. This video explains how to force the axis to start at zero so you present an accurate graph in the job interview: https://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/force-a-column-bar-or-line-chart-in-excel-to-start-at-zero/.
Just because you haven’t been creating graphs in Excel doesn’t mean you can’t create effective data visuals for your upcoming job interview presentation. Use the links above to quickly learn what you need to know.
Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 3.5 million times and liked over 14,000 times on YouTube.