So, your cv has passed muster and you’re off to meet your potential new employer – excellent news! But, PR interviews can be tough. You need to demonstrate experience, craftsmanship, passion and creativity. Here’s how to make sure you’re ready!
Have you been on your potential new employer’s website and those of their clients? Are you up to date with what those brands are tweeting about; with their Instagram accounts? Have you formed an opinion about the type of brand they are, who their audience is and what the big stories in their industries are? Have you checked out who you are meeting on Linkedin? What’s their background? Perhaps you share educational establishments, mutual friends, common interests – any of which make a great ice-breaker. Have you prepared a list of questions?
QUESTIONS AND COMPETENCIES
- Talk us through your cv?
- What are your key skills?
- Tell me about a time you’ve had to deal with conflict?
- Where are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What work have you done that you are most proud of?
- What would you say to your Account Executive self?
- Could you explain PR to your Grandmother?
- If you were an animal, which one would you be?
These are all genuine questions PR candidates find themselves being asked. They range from competency to off-the-wall questions designed to bring out your creativity.
It’s all very well saying what you’ve done but it’s even better to show people. Take along your portfolio, putting the most relevant work at the front. For up to Account Manager level this will probably be coverage and press releases, more senior positions will require strategy, proposals and briefing documents as well. Anything that demonstrates integrated work, like a piece of content you have created, a showreal or marketing collateral will also be very well received.
RESPONDING TO A BRIEF
Depending on seniority, most clients will want to test you. For a more junior position, you may be asked to draft a press release or do a mock sell in. For most senior positions, you’ll usually receive a brief a few days prior to a second stage interview and be asked to present back a creative strategy. For the latter, make sure you plan enough time to do your deck justice, use industry mates as a sounding board (unless you’ve had to sign an NDA) and run through the presentation properly with someone you trust to provide constructive criticism.
Even if you are feeling nervous please try not to fidget and scratch, it’s really off-putting. Sit on your hands if you have to! Speak slower than usual to avoid the nerves turning into ‘erm’s’.
One of the most common reasons for not making it to a second interview is a lack of passion or spark. You need to be enthusiastic, energetic, motivated, a source of positive energy. People buy people and chemistry is everything – if your prospective employer can see themselves working with you, you are already well on your way.
Don’t lie about your experience, your age or your salary. It’s too easy to be found out, not to mention morally questionable.
End of interview questions can always be a bit awkward but saying you don’t have any is a mistake. It can be hard to rack your brains if all your pre planned questions have already been covered during the interview but have one or two up your sleeve that are a bit left-field….’So… if you were an animal….’
And finally, don’t forget to let your interviewers know how keen you are on the position. Saying that you’ve really enjoyed the interview and that you are keen to progress to the next round shows confidence and passion.