How to Manage Your Next Job Interview Process

Untitled design (3)Many people assume that job interviews would be “no big deal” to a PR professional. After all, don’t we get paid to interview and be interviewed for stories? Here’s the catch–most interviews aren’t job interviews. Job interviews are intimidating. They are a necessary evil that many people fear, yet we all encounter.

If you’re getting nervous just thinking about job interviews, don’t worry. There’s several tips that can help you manage the interview process and put some that PR training to work!

Before the Interview

The interview process begins long before you put on your best outfit. It begins with the job application. How you present yourself in your resume and cover letter impacts whether or not you’re even offered an interview.

To be successful you must customize your cover letter and resume for every job application.  Job coaches suggest creating a “master” resume that includes everything in your repertoire so when you apply for a job you can select only the information that best reflects your qualifications. From this list you can also choose a few examples to highlight in your cover letter.  

This is where your PR training comes into play. You have spent several years learning how to write persuasively. Take that training and infuse it into your cover letter. Target your writing and convince them that you are the right person for the job.

During the Interview

Believe it or not job interviews aren’t about you, your abilities, or your education. They are about how you can fill a need in their company. More importantly, job interviews are about connecting with people. Hiring is expensive.  That’s why companies are concerned with hiring the right person and not just anyone that can do the job.

Yes, you need to be prepared with your resume, portfolio, and lots of great questions that show your interest, but none of that matters if you can’t connect with the people who are interviewing you. Be genuine and leave a lasting impression with everyone you meet—from the secretary to the CEO. You never know who may influence the hiring decision.

Don’t be surprised if companies have researched you on the internet. They recognize that cover letters and resumes are “sterile” representations of your personality. They want to know what you be like on Monday morning after your car broke down and you walked to work in the rain. No, seriously, they want to know who you really are and if you are a good fit for their culture and their current team.

After the Interview

After your interview follow up with a thank you note and include any additional information from your interview. While emails are appropriate, you may find that a handwritten note will leave more of an impression. Electronic communication is easier, but don’t let that stop you from picking up the phone or writing a note.

Be mindful and patient as you wait for their decision. Remember, it’s all about people, so use any follow up conversation to build on the relationships that you began in your interview. At the end of the day, whether you get the job or not, it all comes down to people. They are life’s common denominator no matter what situation you are in or profession you may pursue

As PR professionals we are trained to relate with people. Take that training into your next job interview. You may be surprised to see what happens!

RuthannCampbell (1)Ruthann Campbell graduated from Pensacola Christian College with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations. She is currently the Communications Specialist for a non-profit organization located in Rochester, NY. You can connect with her directly to network or share ideas on LinkedIn or Twitter.

PRSA Jobcenter Adds Features Designed for New Professionals by Richard Spector

Recently I had the pleasure of managing PRSA’s Jobcenter redesign – with the help and guidance of some wonderful colleagues. We rebuilt the navigation and compiled information from all PRSA and PRSSA resources including advice based on PR Tactics articles, Forum blogs, comPRehension entries, HR consultants and resume guidance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What is the result? We now have an information-rich career center to set job seekers on a successful path for all career levels. If you are new to public relations, the entry-level and tools and tactics pages can provide a needed edge in this ever-changing economy. We based the redesign on answering a series of questions for new professionals.

How can I write the best resume? A resume starts with making a personal pitch through your cover letter. This letter is your chance to make a great first impression. The first two sentences of your resume should summarize your background, to tell the HR person whether to read on. Once you have reviewed more resume and career articles, you can sign up for a customized 21-page resume guide or a resume critique. You will be able to access these portions once you post a resume to PRSA Jobcenter.

How do I prepare for a job interview? As the saying goes, you only have three seconds to make a good impression, and we can help. The first bit of advice is of course to keep calm even when asked tough questions. PRSSA has a great synopsis of the types of interview questions you may be asked. Next comes the question of following up after the first interview. The growing importance of social media has made the “give to get” rule a necessity. Stand out from the crowd by sending the company you interviewed for a relevant article or helpful observations on improving their website. When you get to the second interview, prepare a brief customized marketing or social media plan. Throughout the process, also take note of your personal brand. This will help you present yourself in the best way possible.

What are the best resources to search for a job? Nowadays, the answer really is “everything.” An HR consultant mentioned a conversation he had recently with a job applicant. The applicant waited a year before coming to him. Why? They were searching for jobs only via social media. Using only one resource decreases your chances of finding a job. You can stay competitive by searching for jobs on job boards, LinkedIn and Craig’s List. The PRSA Jobcenter has some time-saving elements when searching for a job, such as signing up for job alerts or a job feed.

How do I land that internship? PRSSA can help you get started with internship realities for graduating seniors. They also offer perspectives on working for an agency vs. a corporation. Once you have landed that much-coveted internship, you will want to make the most out of your internship experience. The ultimate goal is to be hired for a permanent position, and advice from both PRSA and PRSSA can help.

How can I network most effectively? The best outcome from networking effectively is to have an employer at the company you wish to work for hand-deliver your resume to the HR director. But how do you make this happen? PRSA Jobcenter has a page to help you network like a pro. Set up a plan to network with intention, make networking an art and follow the essential steps for networking success. Best-selling author Andrea Nierenberg offers tips on Ways to Say “Thank You” along with the “ABCs of Networking“.

Finally yet importantly, always stay positive, and remember PRSA Jobcenter will have strategic guidance for you every step of the way. Whether you are looking to ask our panel of mentors a question, wish to attend graduate school or find a helpful webinar, we will follow your career from entry-, mid- to senior-level.

Richard Spector is the manager of client services at Public Relations Society of America.