Public relations professionals rely on personality, research and quick-wit to find success in their roles. This can make interviewing within the industry intimidating, especially as a newcomer to the field or a recent grad. It’s important, therefore, to prepare for the interview days, if not weeks, in advance so that you’re well-equipped to impress and land the job. Read on to find out what steps to take beforehand in order to ace your PR interview.
Update your web presence
Much of the work in public relations relies on an understanding of reputation and brand management both in search and on social media. It’s important that your web presence showcases your ability to control your own personal brand because potential employers will likely research it themselves.
In preparation of your interview, delete any inappropriate images or posts and update your profiles including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and personal blogs. Then, try to build up your online clout by sharing newsworthy articles or personal updates and interacting with other professionals. This should eliminate negative imaging around yourself while also demonstrating your online capabilities and expertise to the recruiter.
Research common questions
Be sure to prepare for the most common PR-industry interview questions. You should be ready for the most basic questions like “Why do you want to be a PR professional?” and “How does your experience prepare you for this position?”
It’s also important, however, to expect the unexpected. Most PR interviewers will ask a few situational questions for which you can’t prepare a standard answer. For example, you wouldn’t be able to anticipate the perfect response for a question like “How would you handle this situation?” The best way to prepare for these types of questions is to review a list of your industry-relevant experiences and skills so you can weave those into your response on the spot.
Prepare your own questions
Asking questions at the end of the interview is key to wrapping up gracefully, learning more about the position and making yourself memorable. Craft questions with purpose and clear intent, then listen actively and ask follow–up questions. Keep your questions based on the position, company, or culture, not pay or promotions. Questions can include:
- What do you think are the qualities needed to succeed in this position?
- Can you tell me a little bit about the company culture?
- What are the biggest opportunities and challenges that are facing the department right now?
- What tools or programs do you use?
Remember to keep the interview conversational: it’s not a one-way interrogation.
Get plenty of sleep
The worst thing you can do the day before an interview is stay up late to finish reviewing your notes or ironing your jacket. A lack of sleep can cause you to feel low energy and unfocused while also cutting your ability to think on your feet— all of which can negatively affect your performance during the interview.
To ensure a clear head and positive performance, try to get a full eight hours of sleep the night before your interview. Don’t crash on the couch. Don’t have a shot of tequila to relax your nerves–try a cup of chamomile tea, instead. Read a calming book or cozy up with a pillow that molds to your position so you can relax and fall asleep in time. This way, you’ll be able to feel energized and ready to impress the next morning.
One of the most important qualities in a PR professional is confidence. Try to strike the perfect balance of self-assuredness that is quiet, not arrogant, to show your interviewer that you’re personable and capable of the job. If you’re nervous, keep in mind that you’ve been given an interview because your resume, experience and skills piqued the company’s interest. They see potential in you, and you should too. Sit straight, maintain eye contact, and don’t be afraid of silences. All of these small cues will prove to the interviewer that you have what it takes to succeed in the role.
These tips should help set you apart from the other candidates and demonstrate your preparedness for the role. Then, all that’s left to do is show off your skills and land the job.