You got an interview for your dream job or internship, now how do you land it? There are some easy and simple things you can do to stand out from the pack. Job interviews are essential about promoting yourself. It’s showing your potential bosses what you can bring to the company. You are a brand. The best way to think of it is if you were the client how would you PR yourself? After all you are going for a job in PR, and what better way to show off yourPR skills!
Preparing for an interview:
The first thing that you need to do when you have your interview locked in is to research and study! No, your outfit choice is not first!
Find out as much as you can on the organisation. This can be time consuming but it can be the most rewarding. You will be able to find out what products and services it offers, who its customers and competitors are, what your job will be and more. This research can help you with possible questions too.
Tip: Write out possible questions that are based on the selection criteria and role description.
PR is a competitive field, especially when you are fresh out of university. So do yourself a favour, know what kind of PR your company does. Even better, research past campaigns and clients. It’s refreshing to interviewer eager job applicants that know about your company and past campaigns. It shows that they are taking this seriously.
A big no-no is to simply just walk in there not prepared. You may thing you can wing it, but news flash, we can tell. Job interviews are not like an assignment that you can do the night before. It takes time, research and preparation. If you want to go far in PR or any field for that matter, you have to put in the effort.
Tip: Always research and study up on the job you are going for.
Prepare and rehearse responses
Write a list of potential questions, and then write a response. Highlight key words to spark your memory in the interview. Have a clear structure when answering questions, as this will demonstrate your ability to think and communicate in a clear and analytical manner. Then once you have thought of all the possible questions, all that’s left to do is practice. This is where family and friends can help you out. Ask them to role play with you or if they are busy, just sit in front of the mirror.
Take appropriate documents
Organise to have all the documents you need for the interview prepared days in advance. You don’t want to be running around on the day stressing out. Documents that could be included in your portfolio include:
- Spare copies of your resume and application
- Academic transcripts
- Portfolio of work including past client campaigns
- Published articles
- Past press releases
Make your portfolio neat and organised. This will make it easier for you to navigate through it while you are getting interview without getting flustered.
Tip: Take in what you think you could be asked from. Even if they don’t ask for it, it’s better to be over prepared then underprepared.
What to wear:
This can be sometimes one of the most stressful things when going for an interview. Firstly, it’s okay to show off your personality in an outfit. Whether with colour or a statement piece of jewellery, it’s okay to show you have a little flair. But be sure you are comfortable. Interviews can be stressful enough without having to deal with shoes you can’t walk in! We must stress, everything must be clean and neat. This means from your head to your toes. You must have neat hair, no chipped nail polish and no stains on clothes.
PR is a big industry, with different areas expecting different things. That is why it is important to know the company and dress accordingly.
The following is a guide for different PR areas dress code:
Fashion & Beauty PR:
If you’re applying for a job in the fashion or beauty PR world, chuck the usual interview style rules out the window. In these roles particularly, you will be judged. Your outfit should reflect your personality – make it as fun and quirky as you’d like. Avoid dressing head to toe in trendy items though, one of the keys to success in these roles is being a woman of style and being trendy and stylish are too very different things. Embrace trends with a bright floral blazer and peplum top, but team with simple black designer jeans and suede ankle boots. Your make-up and hair should be flawless and your bag should be big enough to fit an impressive portfolio.
Your interviewer will be looking for someone who’s well-groomed and impeccably put together, but also someone who’s not afraid to let their fashionista flag fly high.
Shop at: Maurie and Eve, Bec & Bridge, Ginger & Smart
Consumer/Lifestyle PR sits somewhere in between the flashy world of fashion and the more demure scene of corporate PR. Although the range of options for interview outfits is the greatest, this also means it can be the hardest to dress for. Avoid obvious trends and bright make-up – I’ve been told in the past by interviewers that they’ve been put off girls who were clearly ‘fashion girls’ as they didn’t feel they’d be happy to work across the broad variety of clients that are thrown to you in a consumer agency. While a nice pair of jeans and a blazer are a fine fit for the everyday in the consumer world (I’ve even seen thongs worn around the office, oh the shame) I always go by the philosophy that you start at the top of the ‘dressed up’ ladder and work your way down. No-one is going to judge you for making an effort, but they will judge you for putting in no effort whatsoever. Tailored black pants with a loose white shirt, statement necklace and small black heels is the perfect balance.
Shop at: Sheike, Marc Jacobs, Witchery
Corporate PR is often viewed as the more ‘serious’, ‘intellectual’, ‘professional’ form of PR but some of the wildest party animals I know work in corporate. Don’t go for the traditional black and grey suit and skirt combo. Do look professional (that means hair up and sensible heels. Leave the peep toe pumps you wore on Saturday night at home.) But don’t blend into the wallpaper. Too much colour can distract from the fabulous, intelligent things you’re saying, so introduce colour into your ensemble in a subtle way. Deep purples, jewel greens, navys and warm maroons are perfect shades to bring a touch of vibrancy to your outfit. A pencil skirt, blouse and structured blazer or a tailored dress are your go-to’s for the corporate PR interview.
Shop at: Cue, Portmans, Saba
Now you have your questions prepared, your outfit sorted and your portfolio ready. All you need to do now is make sure you get there on time and make a great impression. How can you make a great impression? Check out the blog in the next couple of weeks for Part 2: Inside the interview- A how-to rock your interview. From what to say, have to act and what not to do under any circumstance!
Kate and the Stormettes