Interview Prep: A Guide for Senior PR Managers

16 Jan 2013 by Sarah Leembruggen.

At a mid to senior level, the competition for plum PR positions is tough, and interviewers expect more. You won’t be the only one with a stellar CV, so you need to set yourself apart from the pack. While every interview is different, you can still prepare for each one in a similar way. Below are some of our suggestions to help you impress:

  1. In depth research: Know about the company, its market position, clients, campaigns, competitors, profitability, reporting structure and any recent press/media activity.
  2. Use your network: Drill down using your contacts. Who knows who? Why has the appointment come up? What’s the culture of the firm?
  3. Know your interviewer: Research who will be interviewing you and their position in the company. Will they be a major decision maker in the hiring process? What is their interest in the appointment? How will you report to them if you’re successful? Try to find some common connections to help build a rapport.
  4. How can I help? What is the underlying function of the appointment? You will probably be told how the vacancy has arisen. But identify what the firm REALLY needs: A fixer? A cash generator? A safe pair of hands? Expansion? Profile? Convey the current areas of strength you’ve recognised and suggest where changes may be made. Generate a plan and a timeline for improvement.
  5. Research yourself: Re-acquaint yourself with your CV. Prepare several solid examples of measurable achievements you’ve had in your sector. Think targets, budgets, deadlines, media coverage. Use examples where there are parallels with the company you're interviewing with.
  6. Prepare for ‘soft skills’ interview questions: These are your 'strengths and weaknesses'. Prepare examples of where you’ve had success and encountered difficulties in your professional life. Think about standard competencies used by HR like: teamwork, problem solving, interpersonal skills and oral communications.
  7. Sell sell sell: You will have about an hour to make an indelible impression, so maximise the time you have and sell yourself. Being specific always impresses – learn your facts and figures. Practice talking about YOUR input and YOUR achievements. Summarise your interview prep on a single A4 sheet that you can take with you. If you go blank, you can glance down and refer to your notes. There’s more about how to sell yourself on our website.
  8. Be bang up to date: It goes without saying. Be up to the minute with PR news and current affairs, and be prepared to talk about recent relevant campaigns and press events.
  9. Any other questions: No is not the answer. Have three good questions to ask about the company and the role. Click here for more ideas. This is also the time to find out the number of stages in the hiring process and when they expect to make an appointment.
  10. Basic but important: Dress appropriately in line with their company culture. Arrive early and take extra copies of your CV and any correspondence that might come up during your meeting. Exchange business cards.

There’s lots more interview advice on our website.

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