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. On top of that, over the past three years you’ve seen many PR agencies adopt a remote/hybrid work model, and now with the addition of virtual interviews, online job boards, and virtual networking the rules for applying to, interviewing for, and landing your dream job have changed. Regardless, the most crucial part of the process is the interview, whether it’s in person or online. It’s 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. And to be successful in the interview process, it’s essential to prepare to prove you are the ideal fit and their next hire.
We’ve laid out a few tips for making a memorable impression in a virtual interview:
Get to know the agency
As with any PR agency interview, be sure you’re caught up on the news – the national mainstream outlets, and especially any outlets that pertain to the agency’s industry expertise– tech, travel, entertainment, etc. Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for any current or upcoming industry trends and events that could be brought up during your interview. Check out the company’s website and social media. Look through their clients and case studies, or any recent coverage highlights that they’ve shared. Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask about their clients or their latest agency announcement, 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
If your interview is online, you don’t have to worry about finding the correct building and making sure you ironed every single wrinkle out of your clothes, however, you do have to worry about having a stable internet connection (you don’t want the only thing you’re interviewer remembered about you to be a robotic voice). Make sure you don’t mistake a virtual interview for a more casual conversation than an in person interview, dress professionally and set up your workspace in a well-lit and quiet area free from distractions (you also don’t want to be remembered for a barista calling out orders in the background of your interview). Reminding yourself that a virtual interview is just as important as an in person interview demonstrates to your interviewer that you are a serious candidate who is prepared for the role.
You should be prepared to speak to everything you have on your resume. 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. It’s best to show your interviewer what you are passionate about and strong in to show how these skills will enable you to do successful work for their clients.
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. This shouldn’t be difficult if you prepared properly, and learned about the company’s culture, recent client and coverage wins, values, and goals.
What’s important to remember is that, while you should be a great fit for the company, the company should also be a great fit for you.
This may sound like an obvious one, that applies to in person and virtual interviews, 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, telling your interviewer what you got out of the meeting will make you more memorable and help you to stay at the top of their mind. On top of this, offer to send any supplemental materials that will support your claim that you’re right 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 breath 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 virtual interview tips in the comments!