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Stop interviewing badly! 10 secrets to success

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Posted: Jun 2020

One of the hardest things you can do as a comms professional is talk about yourself in an interview. You are so used to talking about other people and putting other companies in a great light. However, an interview is about talking about you in an interesting and compelling way. It is just like a client pitch and getting the correct balance of insight, energy and interest is an art.

As search consultants, we have interviewed thousands of comms professionals, and it’s clear that most of these are not interview ready. Their pitch about themselves needs work.

Most interviewers make up their mind in just two minutes so sharpening up your technique is a must.

Our analysis shows the comms professionals we prepare for an interview with one of our clients will secure a second interview 50% of the time. We believe this is because we take the time to prepare our candidates well, not only providing tips, but also bespoke and honest feedback before and after every client interview.

With this in mind, we thought we would share our secrets to how you nail your interview pitch -

Here are our 10 secrets to success -

1. Where to start?

I personally prefer hearing about how you got to where are right now, from the beginning, as you are telling a story. However, to be clear, far less detail is required for roles five or ten years ago compared to your most recent one.

2. Practice SELLING your story

Don’t TELL it, that’s just dull. Assume the interviewer hasn’t heard of each of the companies you have worked for. Now sell the company to me in just one sentence.

3. Set the scene

Where do you fit into this company/team? How many people reported into you? Who did you report into? Did you manage any agencies? You are just building a picture here for the interviewer and only need the top line.

4. A success

When you talk about each of your jobs, tell me something interesting about the role, ideally a success or something that you are particularly proud of. Mention the aim of that achievement, very little detail about what you did (not that interesting) and lots of detail on the result, and be specific. This is the high value content, demonstrating that you deliver great results.

5. Learnings

When you talk about each job, drop in one or two things you learned from this role. Perhaps you honed your strategic thinking, built on your creative abilities, learned line management skills and helped others climb the ranks. This is blatantly telling the interviewer what your skills are and, perhaps, your strengths.

6. Reason for leaving

This may not be interesting or relevant so keep these to a minimum. Many comms professionals make the mistake of openly chatting about hating their boss or how political an organisation is. Keep it succinct, positive and informative.

7. How much detail?

Your most recent job is the one the interviewer is likely to want to know most about. Two highlights/successes from this role is great. The further back you go the less detail is required, but you still have an opportunity to sell each role. Talk about an achievement or a learning.

8. Smile

So many people think interviews are serious and forget that your employer is also looking at you are wondering if you are going to be fun and enjoyable to work with. An occasional smile goes a long way.

9. Questions?

Have five compelling questions at the ready. Three may be answered during the conversation by the interviewer and so you will be left asking two which is perfect. If you don’t have any questions you will look disinterested.

10. End on a good note

If you are interested in this role and company, then you absolutely need to tell the interviewer at the end of the meeting. Just say it. They will assume you are not if you do not say. Simple as that.

We hope these tips are helpful. Interviewing is an artform, it takes practice and people to guide you. Good luck for your next interview!


The Works Search a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email sarah@the-works.co.uk.

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