Butterflies swarm through your stomach and a bead of sweat slips down your forehead. This is an interview, not a death sentence. This is something I told myself from the moment I got into my car – driving in agony for 15 minutes – to the second I sat down in the inquisition chair, tucked at the back of the conference room with escape routes blocked. Will I say the right things? Am I dressed appropriately? Will they like me? Taking a deep breath, I went right for it and was ready to tackle the interview. From the first question after the casual introductions, I made sure to think through my responses before I spoke, rather than spit out some “uh-uh, um” twisted, mumbled jargon and stall for time. And as the questions continued, the more relaxed I felt.
So what is the best way to prepare for a PR interview?
- Research, Research, Research! Know what position you are applying for and exactly why you want it. A simple question such as, “Why do you want to work in PR?” can quickly become daunting if you are unprepared. Investigate the company website to familiarize yourself with mission statements, employee bios, agency style, notable case studies and company history. Be sure to search Google news as well for any recent coverage.
- Stay Informed: Know what is going on in the news and brush up on hot topics related to the company’s clientele. It would not only be embarrassing to be baffled by newsworthy questions, but a checkmark on the “reasons not to hire” list as well. Dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to reviewing headlines and news briefs (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Drudge Report, etc.) or download a mobile news app to stay informed while you’re on-the-go.
- Come Prepared: Bring printed samples of your writing. Clips should be organized and laminated (Thanks to Anna Crowe, senior AE at Gable PR, for the suggestion!) or in sheet protectors. This way you look professional, polished and detail oriented. Have your own list of questions to ask about the company, its people and its working environment. Your questions can help break the ice and make you feel more comfortable, too.
- Dress to Impress: Do yourself the favor of taking a few extra moments to ensure you look presentable. This will not only boost your confidence, but reflect to others that you take the interview seriously. Ergo, they will take you seriously.
- Think Before you Speak: Being asked tough questions can be intimidating for anyone and, unfortunately, we’re not all masters of improvisation or captains of the debate team. Listen carefully to each question, take a moment to go through the most important points you want to make and respond with a well-thought-out, honest answer. A moment of silence can actually indicate your analytical abilities and is far better than racing with whatever first comes to mind.
Lastly, be confident, smile and relax! They’re going to love you!