We saw a post written last week by a PR colleague named Buck talking about a particularly poor interview experience he had. This really hit home with us because as members of the recruiting committee here at Voce, part of our job is to screen and interview applicants. Lately we’ve been focused on filling internship positions and have definitely noticed that some students are better prepared than others.
After we saw Buck’s follow-up post on 10 Don’ts for PR job applicants, we thought it would helpful to give some additional tips to students, based on our experience, that will help them in their interviews. In fact, given the current state of the economy, we know there are a lot of students out there searching for jobs in PR, so we decided to do a short summer series focused on the topic. Over the next few weeks you’ll see a couple more posts from us focused on giving students tips on getting into the industry. Today we start with some things to keep in mind NOT to do in a PR interview.
- Don’t tell us you’re interested in PR because “you like to talk to people” or “you’re a people person.” That doesn’t mean anything to us. A used car salesman likes to talk to people too. Why are you interested in PR over sales? We want to hire someone that has some knowledge of what we do.
- Don’t let the interview end without asking us any questions. If you ask zero questions then we’re not really convinced you’re interested. There’s nothing about the job/company that you’re not curious about? The interview isn’t just an opportunity for us to learn more about you, but for you to learn more about us. In fact, it really impresses us when we can tell you’ve come prepared with questions.
- Don’t act snotty or talk down to the person sitting at the front desk. How you act with them tells us a lot about your character and how you’ll act as our employee. And don’t think we don’t ask them about their impressions of you. We do. And we take it into account.
- Don’t pick one person out in the interview to focus on if you’re interviewing with multiple people at one time. Make sure you make eye contact with all involved in the interview. Sometimes candidates focus on one person thinking the person with the higher title is the decision-maker. That’s not always the case. In fact, at Voce we weigh each person’s feedback equally.
- Don’t come into an interview without having first researched the company. Know what the company does. At a bare minimum, check out the company’s website (and that’s a very, very bare minimum). In our case, know that we focus on PR, social media marketing, and web development. Be able to name some of our clients. You’d be amazed at the number of times we speak with people that have no idea what we do.
- Don’t forget to write a thank you note to everyone you interviewed with and the person that coordinated the interviews with you. Email or an old-fashioned handwritten note is fine. Either way, just don’t forget to send one.
- Don’t fidget. We know you’re probably nervous, but don’t do anything that makes that blatantly obvious to us. Interns at Voce sit in on client meetings. We want to bring in people that can act professionally in those situations and not provide distractions to the client. If you’re fidgeting during the interview and crinkling up our business cards it makes us think that’s how you could act during other types of meetings.
- Don’t act overconfident. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. It’s okay to admit you don’t know something. You’re just starting out in this career, we don’t expect you to know all the answers. It’s not good to fake your way through an interview. We can tell if you don’t really know what you’re talking about, so just be honest.
- Don’t go out partying the night before your interview. I know, it seems like common sense. We’ve interviewed people that actually admitted to being out the night before. We want fun people, but telling us about your partying habits in a first interview doesn’t show us you’re fun, it shows us that you lack intelligence and more importantly, common sense.
- Don’t bash your former employers. We know there will be things you didn’t like about past employers and we’ll likely ask why you left them. When you answer that question, do so in a constructive manner. If you badmouth past places of employment we’ll probably just see you as a negative person.
Note: this post (and future posts in this series) will be cross-published to the San Jose State Career Center Blog. Please go read their blog for additional insights and perspective on interviewing and career prep!