Interviews - What Employers are Really Looking For

There are only three things that a prospective employer wants to know when they're interviewing a candidate for a PR role:

1) STRENGTHS or 'Can you do the job?'
2) MOTIVATION or 'Will you love the job?'
3) FIT or 'Can we work with you?'

As a candidate, you should be asking yourself the same questions when finding out about the job: can you do it; will you want to get up every morning and go to work; and (most important) can you spend eight hours a day with these people five days a week?

Can You Do the Job?

This is your chance to talk not only about your PR skills and media contacts, but also about your leadership skills and the ability to develop relationships while climbing the corporate ladder.

As useful as a good CV is, you can't really tell what a person is like by looking at their CV. So be prepared to talk about your projects, and don't assume that just because your interviewer is in PR they know what you do. They want to hear examples of not only your successful PR campaigns, but also what didn't work and what you learnt from that. Be prepared to talk and be honest!

Remember that your answers should not just demonstrate your ability to be an effective marketer, but your ability to get along and interact with people.

Will You Love the Job?

Employers are looking for people who enjoy what they do. Be prepared to talk about what challenges you, and what you love to do. The company are seeing what you will embrace and how you could complement their team.

Can We Work With You?

Will you fit into the company culture and the existing team? Remember, people buy people, so if you don't like them and they don't like you - IT JUST WON'T WORK! Forty percent of PR professionals leave organisations (many fired or pushed out) within twelve months. It's not because they're stupid, it's because they don't fit in with the organisation. Everyone has experienced the 'wrong job' - either because it was mis-sold, or because they mis-sold themselves at interview only to find they didn't fit the culture.

Preparing for Interview

  • Make sure you look at the company website (including the portfolio and any blogs), LinkedIn and other social groups. Be sure you know exactly what the company do and who they do it for.
  • If you are using a recruitment consultant make sure they brief you properly on the role you have applied for.
  • Prepare for interview by thinking through examples of your PR work, so you can give concise examples easily.
  • Think about the media and who you know so you can 'name drop'.
  • Don't assume that they know what you do, and do your own PR in the interview. If you don't tell them what you do, how you do it, and how well you do it, then they won't know!
  • You need to show the company how you can fit into their organisation and demonstrate the 'value add' you will bring to the company.
  • Make sure you have questions ready to be sure this is the right place for you. 
  • Be prepared to talk about weaknesses, but think of this as areas you need training in.

More advice on PR interviews is here.

The better you do, the more chance you have of getting that dream job and on the salary you want and deserve. If you undersell yourself then you have the chance of losing the dream job or being offered a low salary as the client feels they will have to train you.

Good luck!