Interviews provide the opportunity to display your soft skills, knowledge, experience (if any), and personality. They can be stressful encounters as there is an imbalance of power. The person conducting the interview has the power, which some exercise more than others do. Some interviewers may lull you into a sense of security and trust. Regardless of the atmosphere, it is imperative to remain composed, confident, and professional. Do not fall into the snare of feeling too relaxed, to the point that the interview becomes a friendly chat.
The above information pertains to most interviews. You can expect to field general questions about your education, why the company should hire you, or your skills and experience. However, the interviewer will undoubtedly ask questions specific to public relations. Our research has found some interview questions that are pertinent to this profession. Here are examples of possible questions and answers. The answers are a guide. You must address the questions as an expression of your experiences and thoughts.
Q. You work for a PR agency. The client has a difference of opinion on how to communicate a message. How do you handle the situation?
A. I would listen to the client’s explanation. Ask a few probing questions to determine why they chose this particular method. I would propose how my ideas can fit their objectives with the goal of using what they propose as well as mine. By proposing a positive image of the outcome, I believe we could arrive at an amicable solution that benefits the client and the agency.
Q. What are your writing experiences?
PR is about communication-orally and written. The job interview will reveal your speaking talent, but not your writing skills. To address this, take a sample of your writing. It can be anything from a high school paper, college paper, articles for a campus newspaper, or a creative piece of writing for a college class. If you have nothing to offer, then explain how your college courses enhanced your skills.
Q. How do you handle a PR crisis?
A. Not all messages have a positive result. When this happens, I would first obtain all the appropriate facts. Discuss with colleagues to determine the best course of action. Sometimes a concise, sincere apology is the only way to remedy the crisis. Then, brainstorm as to how this happened so we can learn from the mistake.
Q. What if the job requires more than the typical 40-hour week?
A. I expect to work whatever hours the job requires. I realize that public relations does not take weekends and holidays. It can be a 24 x 7 job. I am prepared to do what is necessary to ensure the job is done well.
Note: This question may be a subtle way of testing your commitment to your work. The interviewer wants to know if you will do whatever it takes. And not someone who only wants a 9 to 5 job.
Q. Why do you want a career in PR?
This is one question asked in most interviews. You need to prepare your answer ahead of any interview. Your answer dictates what it is about PR work that you find attractive as a career. However, here are some things to consider when practicing your answer to this question:
- PR involves social media and content marketing. You can express your usage and knowledge of social media as a vital communication tool.
- You follow current events. PR professionals are constantly following the news and always have the facts on the latest stories.
- PR professionals are some of the most ethical and trustworthy people. If you consider yourself a genuine and honest person, you need to emphasize this quality.
- You are a people-person. Public relations professionals are people who love connecting with others and building strong relationships. This is an important quality to have in the PR industry.
- Reflect self-confidence and an out-going nature. PR is about interaction with clients and professionals within your agency or company. It demands an energetic attitude.
Interviews are an audition. You are auditioning for a job. It may be brief or last hours. Regardless of the length, you must sell yourself to the respective employer. You need to distinguish your abilities from all the other candidates. Whether the interviewer asks the following questions, you need express your thoughts on each during the session:
- Who you are, where you’ve been, and what you know?
- What value will you bring to the company?
- What are you looking for long-term?
- Why you are different (i.e. special) from other applicants?
Finally, the application process does not end with the interview. Follow up with an email or personal note to the interviewer(s) thanking them for the time and consideration. While your letter should be short, you should briefly reiterate one or two things that make you stand out as a job candidate. Emphasize why you are right for the job, and/or the company. Make sure it is professional, polished and in proper business letter format.
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