Many of you are in the final throes of interviewing for your Public Relations entry-level jobs or internships. I myself had an interview with the team at @ArgylePR which went quite well. Even though I did not get the internship, the experience and the opportunity to talk to such wonderful people as Kendra Dubyk was pleasant and engaging. Thank you to the Argyle team for the great opportunity!
I also want to mention, that if you’re still looking for that opportunity, be not afraid to tweet the company’s CEO or hiring manager, or even someone who works there. I myself got the opportunity by tweeting the very pleasant, thoughtful, and helpful Dan Tisch, president of Argyle Communications.
During my interview, I learned a few things that I wanted to share with you that might be of help. Here they are. From the basic, to the “oh I knew that!”
This is the employer’s opportunity to see if you’re a fit. Right off the bat. this is also your chance to show off that you know about the company and you’ve thought about why you want to work there. Your time and skills are invaluable, and you are in a position to choose where you want to work. For reasons of time constraints, you should be selective where you apply and for what position. So read up. Show them that your values match the company’s.
Show Up Early
This will work to your advantage. You will have enough time to get comfortable with the aesthetic of the location and get to see some people and the feel for the environment. It will also give you enough time to recollect what you want to talk about, what you want to say. It will also allow you to position yourself for Lobbying (whats lobbying? keep reading).
Of course you should be well dressed and clean shaven. Your hair should be well kempt. You are selling yourself as much as you are selling a service. I hear it on good source, that some companies will hire you based purely on how you look. While I have my issues with that, the PR industry IS about image, and so the way you look will play a significant role on whether or not you will fit in.
Equally important, smell clean. Don’t eat something that has a strong odor that may stick to your clothes or prominently be present in your breath. Try not to smoke beforehand.
Be a Lobbyist
Pun intended (I tried). When I was at Argyle PR, I was early and so I had the chance to spend some time in the lobby. I looked at the awards they had, and even their philosophy, put in a nice frame, and signed by all those who worked at Argyle PR. This reminded me of how the trailblazers at Apple had their signatures embossed on the inside of the first computer casing.
At Argyle, it also demonstrated integrity and commitment. The awards and philosophy were like cue cards. They reminded me what I wanted to talk about and jogged my memory. When I went into the interview, I could talk about what I had seen by way of example in the lobby, referring specifically to the philosophy. This I believe impressed the interviewer (just by the larger nod that I got). Inevitably, this will gain you some really crucial points early on in the interview.
Hi, How Can I Help You?
The receptionist is your best source of information. When you show up early, you will have some fair amount of time to converse with them. Talking to the receptionist at Argyle, I got a feel for how the people were and I got immediately comfortable with them. Converse. They are also an invaluable source of information about the latest happenings that have not yet been put up on the website or on Twitter/Facebook.
Chin Up, and Smile 🙂
The interviewer is probably as intimidated about talking to you as you are about them. Neither of you know what to expect (although the interviewer will have some sense, since they have done this several dozens of time before). Once you’ve spent time in the lobby and you’ve spoken to the receptionist, you’ll be comfortable. Use this opportunity to look your interviewer straight in the eye, smile widely (and honestly), and tell them your name, and show with your body how excited you are to meet them! This is after all a great thing that’s happening! Congratulations, you’ve made it this far! Congratulations, indeed! 🙂
“Tell us about a time you had to convince someone about your point of view…”
I was particularly unprepared for this question. I never expected it. Thankfully, one of the interviewers gave me something to latch on to (for example, about the time you had to convince your parents to let you pursue this field.) You will likely get this question, or a variation of it.
Persuasion is important and you need to be able to convince your interviewer about your ability to influence opinion. If I had read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie earlier on, I would’ve known how to answer this question. We all convince people at various points we just don’t know how we’re doing it. At least, I didn’t.
In short, you want to talk about how you were a good listener, latched on to what their interests were, and told them how their interest would be served in subscribing to your point of view. The key question? What’s in it for them?
Follow up, Follow up, Follow up
Look, you’ve heard how important this is. Send an email or a hand written note. Do that if you want. I did. I wrote a nice long email thanking them. But then I realized this didn’t work too well. So I chose to call my interviewer and thank her personally. Do this early in the morning when the day is just starting. There was no mention as to whether or not they received my email. If they did, they didn’t have a chance to read it. This might be too late.
So call. Say thank you. Tell them what you particularly enjoyed about the interview. Remember names! I can’t emphasize this enough. The power of someone hearing a name is so strong and relatable, that it triumphs over all other generic thank you’s. Remember names! If you want, say thank you to the lead interviewer and tell them about how you enjoyed meeting the others by name! If you have the time and chance, call the others as well and tell them thank you. This will go a long way in building relationships when you start working for the company. When you walk in, it will be awesome!
I hope this has helped you. Tell me what you think. I’ve only had two or three interviews in the PR industry, so I’m fairly new to this. Do you have any other insights to offer? I would love to hear from you, as would others who stumble across this post.
Thanks so much for reading!