Preparing for an interview and job hunting tips in PR

by Louise Railton, final year PR and media student

The CIPR’s latest research gathered the views of approximately 400 CIPR student members. The research reveals how internships fail to provide consistent learning and development opportunities for PR Interns.

As a PR student who’s months away from graduating, I know all too well how intense final year can be. Final year isn’t easy anyway; but having the extra worries of finding a job in public relations, getting interviews, and impressing potential employers can be stressful. Here are some tips for PR students who are job hunting and wanting to prepare for interviews.

  1. Social media profiles: Spend some time going through your social media profiles to make sure you represent yourself accurately as the fun but professional person you are! If you don’t have LinkedIn, definitely sign up. LinkedIn is a great platform for networking online.
  2. Accounts on Twitter: This follows on from the previous point, have separate accounts for different audiences. For example: create a professional account as well as having a personal account.
  3. Key influencers on social media: Think about who you follow/admire on Twitter and why. Some companies such as Tesco are really clever with the things that they post.
  4. Join in and #chat: Use Twitter to your advantage by joining in with relevant chats, such as #PRStudChat and other chats by the CIPR which cover different but important topics. It’s a good way to network and share your opinions on relevant issues. Cision have compiled a list of relevant PR Twitter chats.
  5. Start up a blog: Having a personal blog is brilliant experience, and a great way to showcase what you can do. Also having a professional blog, or contributing to a professional blog will look great on your CV. Professional blogs are regularly looking for contributors. Blogs are a great way for you to show employers your writing style and interests.
  6. Do your research: Make sure that you thoroughly research the agency/company, who their clients are and the company ethos. Being well prepared will show that you are enthusiastic and serious about working for them.
  7. Practice your interview skills: Prepare some questions which you might be asked and ask a family member or friend to go through them with you. This will help you to not get flustered or go off topic during the real interview. Be clear and stay calm.
  8. Demonstrate media awareness: Become aware of bloggers, editors and feature writers in the industry. Knowing the name of a journalist will look impressive.
  9. Read the papers: Author Sarah Stimson of ‘How To Get A Job In PR’ says “Common questions in PR interviews include “what news stories have caught your eye recently?” and “tell me about a PR campaign you’ve seen in the last six months which impressed you/didn’t impress you”. In order to answer both of those questions you need to be fully aware of what’s been in the news.”

Top Tips for interviews:

  • Be prepared – be on time, know your route and look up people who work at the organisation on LinkedIn
  • Be professional – appearance and the way you are dressed
  • Be enthusiastic and available
  • Be flexible
  • Demonstrate that you are willing to learn new things
  • Be positive – smile!
  • Show confidence
  • Bring samples of work with you so you can explain them in further detail
  • Know your strengths and weakness, but focus on your strengths
  • Talk about where you have work experience but also what skills you used and how you used them. Giving good examples is important for interviews
  • Ask your own questions – prepare some questions for the interviewer. A good question to ask: “Is there anything else you would like me to demonstrate?”
  • Show you can use your own initiative and think on your feet
  • Follow up by sending a thank you email if possible

Editor’s note: Congratulations to Louise for this blog post being selected as Pick of the Week by Behind the Spin, an online magazine for public relations students and young PR practitioners.   Here’s her moment of glory! – very well deserved too.