5 Tips for Nailing a PR Agency Job Interview
By Beca Truong
If you’re thinking about applying for a job in public relations, I hope you’ve thought a lot about your decision, your aspirations and your future. Your interview will demand it. PR is about shaping public perception of a brand and an interview is no different; it’s an opportunity to do some self-branding, and you’d better do a hell of a good job if you want to get hired!
You should already know what to wear and when to arrive, so here are five less obvious – but still very much essential – tips that brought me success in my public relations job hunt, and ultimately yielded me a position at Blanc & Otus:
Tip 1: Do your research
Bookmark the agency’s website, monitor their social media channels, read up on their latest news, and research their clients. You should basically know everything publicly available on their website, LinkedIn and beyond.
During your interview, you should be able to phrase your answers in the scope of their clients, discuss the history of the agency, or ask your interviewers about the challenges they face in their positions. If you can voice the reasons why the agency stood out to you, you’ll stand out to them.
Tip 2: Understand your own career motives
Don’t base your decision to pursue a career in PR on a coin toss. I personally wanted to pursue PR because I love the challenge of guiding a brand’s direction through the power of words. Consider why you are a great fit for public relations or why you’d find PR fulfilling. This will make it easier to convey what drives you because your interviewers will want to know about your long-term goals and how you plan on reaching them. Hint: making money is a great motivator, but should definitely not be the only factor.
Tip 3: Ask GREAT questions
You’ve done your research; you know why you want to pursue PR. So if you don’t have a million questions at this point, it’s time to think of them! Asking great questions will be just as important as the answers you provide in your interview. It reflects that you’ve not only done your homework but are serious about getting into PR and are a forward-thinking individual. Take an hour to brainstorm any questions you may have for the interviewer. For example, you could ask about the details on the job position itself, the agency's culture, your interviewer's opinion on working there, future plans of the company, and industry trends at large.
Tip 4: Communicate your skills through relevant anecdotes
Here’s where you can show off your self-branding and storytelling skills. Well-explained, concise anecdotes should be integrated into most answers you give. Just stating “I'm a good leader" will convince no one, but showing that you’re good at leadership through examples, will. Think of that first statement as a thesis, and the anecdotal evidence as the bulk of the paragraph supporting your thesis. Pull up a huge list of generic practice questions and try to write a paragraph for each one, relating an experience you had in the answer. Don’t think you have many experiences? Dig deep and remember things like group projects, customer interactions, extracurricular activities, or even personal projects. Also, keep in mind that an interview should be more of a flowing conversation than a mechanical Q&A. If you answer a question, feel free to elaborate or segue into a related topic or point, as long as you don’t interrupt your interviewer.
Tip 5: Be yourself (*Cue the heartwarming, '90s sitcom background music*)
You’ve probably heard this a million times, and it never sounds any less corny. But it’s exactly what many professionals I consulted with told me during my months of job searching. PR is comprised of many different types of people who all work in different ways to contribute to their agencies’ success. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, you risk seeming insincere during your interview. Be personable, but show that you’re a unique individual with your own strengths (and weaknesses). The only requirement for starting in PR is that you’re willing to learn and work hard while doing it. Otherwise, you do you!