How to prove your PR skills in an interview

Hi everyone,

This is Andrew Jepsen, Assistant Account Executive, welcoming you to my second part of how to get your first job in public relations! If you followed my advice from part one and have written a great cover letter, then maybe you’ve been called in for an interview. Or maybe not. Readers of resumes are people too, and, well, sometimes they just won’t like you.

Which brings me to the second part of getting hired – the interview. There are many things you can do right, and many things you can do wrong. But there are also many things you don’t have any control over. If your interviewer feels like you don’t fit in with the company or that your experience isn’t as wide as he or she had assumed, you might not get the job, even if you’re qualified. So don’t worry if you don’t get the first job you try to get. Try, try, try again. Just like pitching a story.

Being interviewed for a job within public relations is very different than being interviewed for a job as, say, a line chef or an accountant. We work within an industry where public speaking, poise, improvisation, determination and research are vital aspects of your job every day. So when you go into an interview and lack these attributes, you’re showing that not only are you bad at being interviewed, you’re bad at PR.

Approach an upcoming interview as though you’re doing some PR for yourself. Treat it just as seriously as you would if you were speaking for a client. This means reading up on the company, knowing your brand, memorizing a few talking points, and dressing professionally. Look at your interviewer the same way you would a reporter – what’s important to him or her? What do they want to know about? What’s relevant and how have you done it better than anyone else they will talk to? Get the facts right, ask questions, and, as always, represent your client’s (yourself) interests to your full capabilities.

Finally, make sure you actually show up! Believe it or not, prospective candidates have lined up interviews at our agency and not bothered to show up or call – and word about that kind of unprofessional behavior travels very quickly in the PR world!

Buzzworthy! Here’s my latest list of top ten things to do in the Bay Area:

  1. Hemlock – the best bar within a block of our office.
  2. Laughing Squid – web hosting and an esoteric blog. Good if you want tech news but can’t stand tech blogs.
  3. Move>Sound – Riding through San Francisco while artists experiment with light and sound? Why wouldn’t you do this?
  4. Save-the-Redwoods League seedling adoption program – Probably the biggest gift you’ll ever give someone. My parents loved it.
  5. Muni Haiku – San Francisco has great public transportation and great poetry. Why not put them together?
  6. Zuula – All your search engines in one go.
  7. BART’s new website – New and improved.
  8. San Francisco’s rolling hills – They’re why we like food so much out here. We’re always hungry.
  9. National Geographic Channel’s piece on the California Academy of Sciences – What a beautiful building.
  10. Anchor and Hope restaurant – great new seafood/chowder restaurant on an alley downtown.

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