Ten Ways to Make Sure You Won’t Be Hired by Our PR Firm

By David Landis, LCI CEO/President 
Years ago I remember my affiliate in Philadelphia, Anne Buchanan, wrote about how to disqualify yourself from the running for a PR agency job.  With the New Year already taking hold, I decided it was time to update that list for 2015.  Here goes:

  1. You show up without your portfolio.  Yes, it’s true that we can find your information online or that you can send it later, but you’re assuming that the job interviewer will do that work.  We won’t – and you should.
  2. You show up without references. I’m not going to just take your word that you’re fabulous. Prove to me that you have the credentials you say you do; bring a written copy of your references.
  3. You show up without additional copies of your resume. Really?  And you want a job?
  4. You don’t even take the time to research our business.  Nowadays, with the Internet, it is so easy to do research on companies.  Take the time to look at their website, know a little about the business and come prepared with a few questions that demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.
  5. Bring your writing samples. Just because you tell me your writing is excellent, it doesn’t mean it’s so. PR is all about good writing. We need written verification of that.  Bring it to the interview.
  6. Dress appropriately.  I disqualify job applicants if they don’t show respect by dressing well.  I don’t care that we live in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and that a hoodie is considered to be fashion forward.  It’s not.  Wear a tie and a sport jacket to the interview.  You can always dress down later (after you’re hired) if you learn that the company is more casual.
  1. Be prepared to sell yourself.  Part of being a good PR practitioner is, in fact, sales.  We want to see if you can sell yourself – and how you do so. Think ahead of time and have a couple of campaigns that you’ve worked on for which you are proud.  Don’t just talk about them tactically: start with the goal, which audiences you are trying to reach, the strategy and then the tactics.  And show me the results.
  2. Know how to answer the question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Everyone asks it.  Be prepared.  Make sure your weakness isn’t an actual weakness.
  3. Practice being articulate and succinct. Don’t just show up to an interview. Anticipate the questions and formulate potential answers – and practice communicating well.  We are, after all, in the communications business.
  4. Most importantly:  always send a written thank you after the interview.  If you don’t, you won’t be hired at our shop.  Why? Because successful business is about developing effective relationships – and that means doing what Mom taught you: always send a thank you.

What’s your job interview pet peeve? Please comment below or email me directly at: [email protected].

11 thoughts on “Ten Ways to Make Sure You Won’t Be Hired by Our PR Firm

  1. Also, don’t be afraid to show a little personality! We’re going to be spending many hours together, we want to know if you’ll be a good fit for our team.

  2. David – Thanks for sharing your interview tips! These can be especially helpful to students and PR practitioners who are just starting out in the field.

  3. I also suggest that applicants think of questions that may be asked and have prepared answers. It is best to rehearse those answers. A typical and effective structure is: 1. the situation/opportunity, 2. what I did about it and 3. the results.

  4. Some great information here that’s helpful for newbies and seasoned pros alike. As simple as it sounds, adhering to these tips can mean the difference between getting the job or not. Thanks, David!

  5. Good list of tips. I think it’s also smart to come prepared with questions of your own to show how serious you are about the position.

  6. Hopefully, Dave, you’ve saved you and your staff much energy sifting through unqualified candidates, which by definition includes anyone who didn’t do the basic research to find these tips. Back in the days when I was in a hiring position (for radio stations), I was amazed to find applications who didn’t even know our format or target demo.
    I would add one overall recommendation for job-seekers: Consider the interview part of the job and put into it the thought and effort that the prospective employer should expect daily.

  7. Thanks, David, for this updated list of how not to get hired. Another thing that often surprises us is the candidate who comes with no tools for note-taking. We often don’t have a position open at that moment, but we do agree to meet as a courtesy. When we start offering ideas of other employers they might contact — and they don’t take notes — we take note! Great post.

Comments are closed.