Going into an interview can be an intimidating feeling – it is one of the rare situations where you are abundantly aware that your success is based on others’ judgement of you. Questions of “What will they ask?” “Do I know the answers to their questions?” and “Will they like me?” can run wild, but not to worry, your qualms can find sanctuary in our words of advice from those who came before you and nailed it. For those of you just starting off in your public relations career, we have the top five tips to ensure that you nail your agency interview.
- Research Clients
This might seem like an obvious one, but it is also an important one. Agencies will often ask why you are interested in their firm over any other firm, to which understanding the clients can offer some insight. Typically, agencies will host a client roster underneath the umbrella of a certain industry – technology, hospitality, clothing, etc. The different industries can also dictate the scope of work – technology clients will likely hold more analyst briefings whereas restaurant groups will likely require more events for openings and the like. Understanding the clients not only shows that you made an effort to do some research, but it also gives your interviewers an idea of how much you understand what you are getting into.
- Understand Company Culture
Take a look at the company’s social media channels to get a better understanding of the company culture and the personalities that you would be interacting with day-to-day. The more you are able to make a personal connection with your interviewers, the better. Plus, the best interviews are done when you are genuinely interested in the company, not just on a mad hunt for a job. Getting a feel for the agency will not only help you in an interview, but it could also help you distinguish which jobs you would actually like to apply for. Interviews are two-way streets – you have got to like the agency just as much as they have got to like you.
- Have a Sense of Your Role
In all likelihood, the company you are applying for is going to want to make sure you have some skills that fit the role you are looking to fill. If you are new to the PR world, then you will want to understand the general skills behind the industry terms. If the tasks include creating media lists and drafting pitches, you should understand that those involve research and writing skills. Take the general duty out of the industry term, and show how your experience is transferable and can be applied.
- Ask Questions
The questions that you ask your interviewers are just as important as the ones they ask you for two reasons:
- It is your opportunity to fill in any gaps
- You can end up making a bad impression with bad questions
You want to make sure you leave the interview with a full impression of the agency and the specific role so you can make the right, informed decision, should they offer you another interview or hopefully, the job! Your questions should be pointed towards deeper dives into expectations, clients, interviewer’s experiences, and next steps. However, there is such a thing as a bad question. Let’s say you managed to skate by without really having to answer questions about clients or agency work, then you ask your tech agency how often they do events. They might question whether or not you really understand the position which could end things on a bad note. Same goes for asking irrelevant questions, or questions that blur industries like advertising into PR. In general, questions that may reveal that you do not understand the nature of the position or the company’s work as a whole are good ones to steer clear of. But the worst thing to do is ask nothing at all. Saying you have no questions when asked translates to “I am showing no effort.” Your interviewer has put time aside to talk with you, so make it a conversation.
- The Basics
And last, but not least: the basics. We really should not have to say these things and yet we cannot say them enough – look professional, bring a resume, be on time. You may think the meat of your interview is in the conversation itself, but it’s a three course meal and you’ve got to kill it from beginning to end. It starts with the presentation of yourself before the discussion even begins, and it ends with a polite thank you note to show your continued interest.
Think you’ve got what it takes to nail your next agency interview? Well good news, we’ve got your next opportunity right here.