18 Feb A graduate’s guide to interviewing for a PR job
It’s the beginning of the year and graduates around the country are wrapping up end-of-uni celebrations and turning their attention to getting a job. It’s a much more difficult employment market than the one I was lucky enough to graduate into years ago. Research released last year showed around a third of university graduates are still unemployed four months after completing their studies.
If you’ve just graduated from a communications degree and are looking to land a job in PR, here are five things to consider to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Read – anything and everything
Working as a PR professional, you’ll be trying to help your clients communicate their messages through media – old and new. That means you need to be well versed in all kinds of media. Read the news, read vertical publications for the industry you want to work in, read blogs, follow influencers and be familiar with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Prospective employers will be looking for you to help them utilise social and digital channels whilst also knowing what’s on the news agenda. If you’re well read, you’ll be able to comment on what’s happening in the news and on social and that will be impressive to interviewers.
- Get to know the company and people you’re interviewing with
Most people will read the website of the company they’re interviewing with. Some will even be able to comment on a recent campaign or award win. Both are important, but if you really want to impress in your next interview, take the time to read up on the people doing the interviewing and ask questions that highlight your research – comment on a blog they’ve written or ask about their experience in a previous role. Like everyone else, interviewers will be flattered you made the effort to get to know them and it also shows your research skills and inquisitive nature.
- Ask intelligent questions
Not just “what’s the culture like” and “what will I be working on”, but intelligent questions that show you’re genuinely interested and have taken the time to think about what you want to know. Ask what the interviewers like about working at the company or what the first three months of the job would look like. Ask about how the team is structured and what they’re looking for from the successful applicant. Ask the questions you would ask if you really wanted the job and you’ll be much more likely to get it.
- Be a good communicator
It sounds obvious, but when you’re interviewing for a communications job, you’re demonstrating your communications skills with every minute you’re in the interview. The interviewer will be looking for someone who can confidently answer their questions, give clear examples and articulate their experience (and why they want the job). Keep your answers to the point, but don’t be so succinct that they are continually probing to try to find out if you have what they’re looking for.
- The personal touch
With so many applicants to choose from, graduates need to stand out as much as possible. Don’t just email your CV and wait for the phone to ring. If you really want the job, pick up the phone and call the HR Manager – ask questions about the role and what they’re looking for. Put in another call after the interview to get feedback on how you did. Someone I interviewed once sent me a card thanking me for the opportunity to interview. In an email driven world, the handwritten card stood out. Do anything you can to make yourself stand out and it will pay dividends.
In summary, make sure you bring your A-Game throughout the recruitment process. If you’re engaged and interested in the role, bring all of that energy and excitement along with you – that attitude is exactly what employers are looking for from a grad.