Be ready for the unexpected at interview

19 Oct 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Make sure you are as ready as anything for your all-important interview with a few key tips from us. As PR and corporate communications specialists we have heard many stories of the unexpected happening during interview – here’s a few scenarios to be aware of.

1. No warm up

Many organisations want to be as time efficient as possible – but also, they really do want to see how you act under pressure. It may be that they kickstart the interview without much in the way of an introduction or warm up – ‘What’s your greatest success from the last quarter and what did you learn from it?’ Brace yourself for a quick start.

2. Knowing your interviewers

In our experience the interviewers may well change with short notice before interview – it may be a completely different person conducting the interview, or it may be that more people join in and it becomes a three-person panel. They key thing is that you have done your research and are comfortable with this – at the very least you should know the names and job titles of the potential team, and ideally have also done background research so you know a little bit about them to avoid getting caught short. This will only help you stand out as an exceptional professional who has done their homework on the organisation.

3. Personal questions

Quite a common occurrence unfortunately, but it’s important that you know how to deal with personal, and even discriminatory questions – an example could be a question about your marital status or reference to your age. Prepare some responses to potential questions you think may come up and you can practice giving polite but firm answers if you feel some boundaries are being stepped on. Hopefully, these questions should not occur if you are interviewing with a quality organisation.

4. ‘Absent’ interviewers

Many senior PR and comms professionals conducting interviews have a very full plate, and you may find that your interviewer is not really paying you the attention that they should – you would be surprised how often we have heard this happening, but it’s a common occurrence in the world of PR and corporate communications. If you feel that your interviewer is paying more attention to their phone it can be extremely offputting and affect your sell – we advise a very polite and open ‘Would you like to deal with that?’ during the interview to reference that they are not present, and to open up an opportunity for them to address any issue or crisis that is causing them to be distracted. It’s better for you to have even 30 minutes of full attention rather than an hour of none.

What unexpected things have thrown you off your game during an interview? We’d love to hear – share your stories @theworksrecruit.

The Works Search specialise in placing board to mid level PR and corporate communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both an executive search and contingency basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or to discuss your career in confidence contact us on 0207 559 6690 – we would love to hear from you.

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