I will soon be attending a second stage job interview with an IT firm specializing in security systems and financial fraud prevention.

I have been asked to prepare a 20 minute presentation regarding a "complex problem" about any subject I wished. What I am considering is if it would be a good idea to write a presentation about my Masters Work (I am currently in my final year). The research is mostly about wireless network performance and my contributions to the field.

I have done previous coding work in work placements before but I do not feel any of my previous projects could carry for 20 minutes. I would like to know if this sounds like a good idea or would the company prefer something closer to home, even if they said it could be about anything?

  • You are to give a 20-minute presentation about the complex subject of your choice. Instead of complying with their request, you are reducing the task to a question whose answer is a matter of opinion. On our site, questions whose answers are opinion-based get filtered out. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 10 '15 at 10:51
  • The point I intend with this question is that I am applying for a software development position yet my presentation is about research I have done. I am asking if that company would prefer a more technical subject or does the "any subject" line indicate a degree of flexibility? – Valten1992 Apr 10 '15 at 10:56
  • What do you think the phrase "any subject" means? 1. If you are that insecure about what the phrase "any subject" means, then the most appropriate safest place is to double check is the people who commissioned your presentation.; 2. You need to ask yourself why they used the phrase "any subject". They clearly are looking to evaluate something about you. Could it be your ability to scope an issue, lay it out, choose a point of attack for that issue and attack at that point successfully in a way whose rationality you can defend? – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 10 '15 at 11:03
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    Could it be that they are looking for a problem solver rather than some random coder? – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 10 '15 at 11:10

First of all, it depends on if they want a very in depth presentation or want you to do something from scratch. Do they want your presentation skills (not likely) or your analysis skills (likely)? When I ask candidates for a work sample, I usually send them a specific task because I want to see what they will create in a very limited time. I'm less interested in what they can create given unlimited time, since most people can produce something good given enough time. That would be a counter argument to basing it on your previous work.

Also think about if your Masters work is complex enough to fit into what they want.

As for your last paragraph - there are sometimes hidden demands testing your judgement. I don't ask my Ruby on Rails candidates specifically to do tests, but I expect a good RoR coder to know that it's very important by themselves. Seeing if you chose something close to what they do or not might be a judgement test.

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  • That is a very good point. I think it is best if I go over previous work and actually try to explain it in detail. This IS a software development position so research would not be as interesting as it could be. – Valten1992 Apr 10 '15 at 10:59

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