With school out and recent grads being on the hunt for jobs, we decided that it would be a great time to give new professionals tips on nailing an interview and succeeding at it. We’ve recently been conducting interviews for our summer internship position, and what we thought were common-sense standards were simply common mistakes. Here are 10 tips to remember for your next application and interview.
- Write a killer cover letter – by that I mean a personalized email to the company you are applying at. Look at their website, and find the right person to address your email to. If you’re unsure, LinkedIn can be a great source of information.
- Keep the subject line of your email simple – don’t get too creative. If you opt for anything like “super important” or “urgent” you risk that your email could pass for spam and might be rejected.
- Arrive on time at your interview – five to 10 minutes early is acceptable, but don’t go too early. Often PR practitioners have hectic days, and their time is planned by the minute. If you arrive too early, the interviewer might feel pressured to see you sooner. Arriving late for an interview can create a bad first impression, so plan wisely and leave on time.
- Be well-prepared – research the company and its work/clients in advance. Often you may not need to discuss that, but sometimes an interviewer can ask you which of the company’s clients you found most interesting or what are some publications you noticed the company received coverage in. These are just examples, but it’s always best to be well prepared.
- Ask thoughtful questions – if you’ve done research ahead of time, you will easily come up with questions at the interview. If not, some common ones are description of the position and duties, company policies, culture and so on. You might also ask what an ideal candidate is to them. This will tell you what hard and soft skills the firm values.
- Know your resume well and the samples you have provided. Be ready to go into a deeper discussion about your previous work, team projects, challenges and so on. This also shows how prepared you are – if you present examples in your portfolio you can’t talk about, it will make the interviewer doubtful whether you were even part of that particular project.
- Highlight your strengths and think of concrete examples – just in case you are asked to elaborate. Situational questions are very common at interviews, and this would be your chance to impress the interviewer by choosing relevant examples that show how you handle challenges well.
- Dress professionally – club wear excluded! If you’re not sure whether your outfit is appropriate, it probably isn’t. I recommend to wear something conservative rather than casual. Usually by looking at a company’s website you can get a good feel of their culture, but still avoid jeans and short dresses or distracting items such as big jewelry and bright make-up.
- Set aside enough time for the interview. In the PR world, interviews sometimes start with written assignments on the spot that can last for about 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure your calendar is clear for that day, so that you don’t feel rushed or stressed out.
- Send hand-written ‘thank you’ notes – this way you will set yourself apart from other candidates. It might not guarantee you getting the job, but if you were one of the top interviewees, it will increase your chances.
This post was contributed by Antonia Genov, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency