“Why Do You Love PR?”
Public Relations is all about storytelling, and we PR professionals are the ones responsible for sharing those stories. Part of our collaborative process with clients is understanding and unveiling their “why.” Why did they create their product or service? What motivates them to continue running their business? By sharing these stories, we help connect people to the root of each brand. As a publicist, unearthing someone’s “why” can often be one of the most complicated tasks you will face. If you don’t know your purpose, how can you help others find theirs?
[Related: 10 Interview Questions You’ll Be Asked If You Want to Work for a Start-Up]
After I graduated from college, I took a few jobs that weren’t in PR so that I could make my student loan payments. When pressed as to why I wanted these employments, I had a new tale each time. It was only when I was placed in the hot seat to get my ideal position that I didn’t have to fake an answer: I knew PR was where my life was headed. What made you want to pursue this career? Why do you enjoy helping people tell their stories, and why will the long hours be worth it in the end? If your answer reflects that this is what you were meant to do, then the interviewers will see that.
“Why Should We Hire You?”
Always research the position and figure out what you can contribute. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past unless it’s relevant to what you’ll do in this job. Make sure to highlight the significance of these achievements and be wary of vanity wins. “Celebrity X discussed my client’s thought-leadership essay on social media,” for example, is meaningless if it had no impact on your client’s financial bottom line. Instead, concentrate on the ones who succeeded. “As a consequence of my media appearance in the New York Times, my customer was able to gain more than 500 new members—75% of which became paid users.” While you shouldn’t get hired for the media relationships that you already have, don’t be afraid to use a couple of them if it will positively affect your new role.
[Related: 6 Surprising Interview Questions—And How to Answer Them]
“What Would You Do in Situation X?”
As interviews become more conversational, situational interview questions have grown in popularity. This is a bit of a benefit for publicists since you should be used to chatting. To put it, if you dwell on insignificant details for too long, you might say something irrelevant and make it unclear whether or not you grandstanding. Be succinct, confident, and experienced.
[Related: 10 Intelligent Questions to Ask on an Informational Interview]
“How Important Is Routine to You?”
This topic might come up in interviews to see how serious you are about working beyond the 9-to-5. A PR crisis or interview request can happen at any time, and you may be called upon to save the day even when it is inconvenient. My most well-known media appearance was the result of a phone call I received at ten o’clock at night while soaking in a hot tub. Trust me, that was a call worth making. In these types of situations, being truthful is always the best idea. If you’re not a night owl or prefer to work during the week and on weekends, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer how much the position might deviate from a set schedule. It’s critical to look for firms that are compatible with your speed.
“What Media Win Are You Most Proud of?”
Before rolling off your tongue with several of your greatest wins in an interview, think about if they’re the right ones for the job. It’s useful to name-drop your most impressive accomplishments, but make sure you tailor them to the company you’re interviewing with. If you want to impress a fashion startup during your PR Manager job interview, make sure to mention the time when you got Refinery29 and Elle coverage, rather than AskMen or Sports Illustrated.
“Do You Work Better Individually or as Part of a Team?”
In any company, teamwork is an essential component of its overall success. Take time to emphasize your strengths in the interview. You can express yourself thus, for example: “I thrive in a solo setting when I am allowed to concentrate on the job at hand completely. For ideation and strategy, I firmly believe that team collaboration is key.” This not only demonstrates that you can excel on your own, but it also shows that you’re a team player.
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
It’s OK to be unsure. Most businesses do not want you to swear that you will still be employed by them. And it’s fine. Having a reasonable strategy will say a lot, so don’t be scared to share the big picture with them and make sure they understand how they’ll be involved in it in a way that is beneficial for both of you. “In five years, I’d want to be VP of Public Relations for a company that is promoting socially responsible companies, and am certain that if given the chance to fill this position, the knowledge and abilities I’ll gain will help me reach my goal while also enhancing your business’s success. ”
“What Do You Enjoy Doing in Your Spare Time?”
I once mentored a college graduate who thought her calling in life was public relations. She wasn’t hesitant to say that it wasn’t for her after several months of hard effort and dedication. On her last day, she confessed something that surprised even herself: “I discovered that I don’t like writing or reading.” To be successful in public relations, you must enjoy both. Make sure to include a passion for reading or blogging or doing creative writing as one of your hobbies. This demonstrates to the interviewer that you are already invested in the creative world.
“What Are Your Salary Expectations?”
I’m not able to tell you exactly what to say (there are too many variables, such as region, level of expertise, and media business) but I can assure you this: have a firm grasp on your value, and don’t underestimate yourself. It can be tempting to take what your college advisors suggested as an entry-level salary or rely on what your parents think you should earn, but these aren’t always accurate representations of the real world. Speak with colleagues in your field, study up, and don’t be scared to haggle. If their proposal is lower than what you were initially planning on, reply calmly with something like, “Well, I was actually hoping for something between X and Y dollars. May I have some time to consider your offer?” By requesting a higher salary, you’re demonstrating that you understand your value, and worth to the company. Oftentimes, employers will agree to meet or exceed your expectations if they think losing you would mean forfeiting exceptional work.
“Do You Have Any Questions for Us?”
It’s always important to have your questions prepared, no matter what the situation is. Asking about the future of your role, opportunities for growth and benefits show that you are committed to your job and want to stay with the company for the long haul. What should you avoid? Asking about vacation time or how much freedom your new business will give right away. A job in public relations is a lifestyle choice, and while most businesses provide attractive vacation plans and flexible work environments, focus on your professionalism during your interview rather than how much time you spend away from the job.