January 16, 2020

Interview Tips for Landing your First PR Job

BIGfish public relations blog photo

Picture this: it’s May, you’re preparing to graduate from college and making big plans for your next adventure, but first, you need to land a job. After your applications to PR agencies are in, a potential employer asks you to come in for an interview – this is your time to make a great first impression and show them what you’ve learned, along with what you can bring to their company to be a valuable asset. As such a crucial step in the process, it’s time to prepare to prove that you should be their next hire. Here are a few tips for making a memorable impression and crushing your interview process at a PR agency.

Prep, prep, prep
Interview preparation cannot be understated. Start by catching up on the news – peruse national mainstream outlets, plus any outlets that pertain to the PR agency’s industry expertise. Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for any current or upcoming industry trends and events that could get brought up during the interview. Next, and most importantly, scour the company’s website – take a look through their client list and diligently read any case studies they’ve featured. Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask you about their clients, it’ll give you a positive nudge if you bring it up on your own. This shows your interviewer that you not only did your research, but that you’re also interested in their work.

Additionally, be prepared to answer questions about your own media intake – like your thoughts on specific social platforms and how to create successful content for each, as well as how and where you get your news and why, to prove that you understand the media landscape.

Be confident and genuine
You should be prepared to speak to everything you have on your resume, so contrary to memes that make it seem like it’s okay to list that you’re fluent in Spanish when you actually failed in high school – don’t do that. Trying to talk through white lies during an interview is an easy way for your interviewer to see you as disingenuous. Instead of fibbing on your resume, be honest – and if there’s an area you’re asked about that you’re not confident in, let them know that while it may not yet be your strong suit, your other experiences and knowledge will help you get up to speed in that area. Additionally, show your interviewer what you’re passionate about and how that will enable you to do solid work for their clients in that field.

Ask questions
One of the biggest mistakes interviewees can make is not asking questions at the end of the interview when prompted. When an interviewer is finishing up, they more often than not will ask: “do you have any questions for us?” This is your time to ask questions about the company, industry or anything else that popped up during your meeting. Try to come up with a few unique questions prior to the interview and keep them in the back of your mind as you’re discussing, and if these questions didn’t get answered already, now’s your time to ask them. The obvious questions include “what does a day in the life of an employee look like?” or “what would my main responsibilities be here?” but try to think of questions beyond those that give you both a solid understanding of the role, how you will be able to fit into it, the company’s long term goals and more. It’s important to remember that, while you should be a great fit for the company, the company should also be a great fit for you.

Follow up
This may sound like an obvious one, but following up to thank your interviewers after an interview is crucial and does not go unnoticed. The thank you follow up should be sent within 24 hours of the interview and should be addressed to each person who interviewed you to thank them for their time and consideration. To stand out, include an anecdote from the conversation. Whether it was learning about one of their clients or a personal mention, like if you’re from the same hometown, telling your interviewer what you got out of the meeting will make you more memorable and help you to stay top of mind. On top of this, offer to send any supplemental materials that will support your claim that you’re perfect for the job. This includes writing samples (press releases, blog posts, pitches, etc) or letters of recommendation and references.

Last, but not least, take a deep breathe and relax! If you’re right for the job, and it’s right for you, it’ll come through. Good luck and let us know if you have any other interview tips in the comments! 

BIG fish PR is an unconventional agency that helps its clients redefine their industries.