You have the background in journalism, communications or media and the experience writing or representing clients -- now all you need is to get through the public relations job interview in order to land the job. You’ve made it this far -- but don’t assume that it’s time to let down your guard. Ahead of that interview, you should be prepping yourself by practicing answering as many mock interview questions as you can. Ask a friend to help you, or simply practice on your own, but whatever you do, use these questions as a guide for where to start.
1. 'Tell me what you know about our clients.'
Before your interview, you’d better have researched the company and found out what types of clients it serves, so you’ll have a good idea of both the specialty areas that the firm handles, as well as the strategies it’s employed for its various clients. To answer this question, you might list some of the firm’s top clients, as well as mentioning any noteworthy campaigns they’ve managed and what you liked about them.
2. 'What would your strategy be for X client?'
Yet another reason you should know who the firm serves. You might be asked about how to handle a certain client. If you get stuck being asked about a company you know nothing about, you’ll do well to answer this question by saying that you’ll take time to get to know the client and their needs, and you’ll spend more time delving into the client’s past campaigns to find out what worked and what didn’t. And if you do happen to know the company and do have some ideas about how to change the image, share a few vague ideas that will have the hiring manager wanting more.
3. 'What platforms do you use most for your PR strategies?'
With this question, the hiring manager may be polling you to find out what social media platforms you’re most knowledgeable about and how you use them. Answer the question by talking about how you used social media platforms and more traditional forms of media to spread the word about a past client, and what returns you’ve seen from each platform.
4. 'Why did you choose a career in PR?'
This is a more personal question, but it’s a chance for you to share some information about yourself that can help sell your candidacy. Without going overboard, tell the hiring manager that you’re great with people, that you enjoy problem-solving, that you have great analytical skills, or that you really enjoy writing. All of those are skills that are required of public relations professionals, suggests the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5. 'Tell me about a PR crisis you've handled.'
These types of "behavioral" interview questions are aimed at finding out how you’ve behaved in the past, in order to get a sense of how you’d handle a similar situation in the future. As with all questions that touch on your weaknesses, briefly mention the struggle you had, but then dominate the conversation with more about how you worked to solve the problem and what you learned from it. In other words, turn a negative into a positive.
6. 'Talk about your most successful PR campaign.'
This one is fairly straightforward, but it’s also a behavioral question. Talk about the problem or issue you faced with the client, the steps you took to solve it, and the eventual outcome. If you have numbers such as how many more followers you gained or how much earned media -- another name for press coverage -- you got from the effort, mention those numbers.
7. 'How do you rate your writing skills?'
Writing skills are absolutely essential for a public relations professional, so ideally, you’ll say you’re an expert. If you’re not, don’t say that you’re terrible at it. Instead, show resourcefulness and tell the interviewer that you’re sure to have each piece of work edited before you put it out for public consumption.
8. 'How do you stay current with new technologies and approaches?'
Public relations professionals need to always be on top of the latest websites and information resources and the newest social media platforms, in order to know where people are getting their information. As such, it should be part of your daily routine to talk with colleagues, read PR blogs, attend conferences or take part in workshops that teach you new things. If you’re doing those things, you need only to share a little about your daily routine of information-gathering. If you’re not doing those things, start.
9. 'What metrics tools are you familiar with?'
Public relations professionals also need to know whether their campaigns are working and where their clients’ traffic is coming from. Whether it’s Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics or another proprietary software, brush up on the tools you’ve used so you can talk a little about what you use and how you use it during the interview.
10. 'Is there anything you'd like to ask?'
Don’t make the mistake of saying "no" when asked this question. Come to the interview prepared with some questions of your own, such as how you’ll be integrated in with new clients, for example, or what the hiring manager’s ideal candidate looks like. Don’t talk about salary just yet, but it is OK to ask about the next steps in the process.
Public relations professionals handle a big job for their clients and need to be prepared for a crisis at all times. You’ll show you’re up for the job by preparing well for the interview.
Have you ever been interviewed for a PR job what questions were you asked?