Public Relations Job Interview Tips

Public relations job interviews can vary considerably, from purely behavioral to highly demanding, penetrant modes. Some PR firms are specialists in certain areas, while others handle a wide range of diverse clients. Because PR is an exceptionally competitive industry, even baseline interviews require you to work hard to make a strong impression.

Public Relations Job Interview Basics

These are the major issues in a public relations job interview:

  • Presentation: Public relations job interviews are essentially presentations. You must engage the interviewers and get them interested in what you have to say. Your presentation is your own personal PR.
  • Interview content: You need to fit solid content into your public relations job interview. Don’t use unnecessary expressions, clichés or overextended statements, because you will devalue yourself. Make sure your statements are well-structured and organized. Do not answer any question off the cuff. Think about everything you say.
  • Appearance and dress: PR people have to present themselves both to media and to clients on a regular basis. Do not give the impression that you’re too casual. Wear business clothes of executive style only, no exceptions.
  • Time usage: Tailor your prepared information to fit the time allotted for the interview. A normal conversational speed is 120 to 150 words a minute. Allow about 20 percent of the time for interview questions and the rest for yourself.
  • Unique, standout information: Don’t be “average” or “industry standard” in this interview. Like a PR campaign, you need to establish a unique brand identity for yourself. Standout interviewees are often the only people actually considered for jobs.
  • Employer background: Researching a potential employer is always a good idea, but in PR it’s absolutely essential because of the diversity of the market and the PR firms. No two are alike, in terms of clientele and market operations. You must prove you understand the employer’s current business. Ask relevant questions about the business when you receive the opportunity.

Public Relations Job Interview Questions

Some behavioral questions in public relations job interviews are standard, but these are critical questions:

  • Give us an example of solving a PR problem for a client. Give an example of a situation which clearly involves good quality PR issues, and explain how your solution covered each issue. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) technique to give a structured narrative answer.
  • How do you work in a team? This is a very important question because it relates directly to the public relations job. Give an example of working in a PR team; define your role and show how you contributed. Emphasize the value of your contributions.
  • How do you manage a press conference for a client? This is a standard organizational role. Use an example which demonstrates all the following functions clearly:
  1. Putting together information for the press
  2. Arranging the conference and venue
  3. Clearing questions and subjects with the client
  4. Checking statement and information content
  5. Briefing reporters
  6. Managing client time.
  • On what basis will you give an exclusive interview with your client? An exclusive interview is a targeted interview, matching an important market demographic. Emphasize the business values of the interview. Be clear about your intended goals in granting an interview and the benefits to the client.
  • How do you manage a difficult client? This is actually a trick question. The answer is you do your job to the best of your ability, regardless of difficulties. The management of any PR client, difficult or otherwise, is a business issue for the employer, not yours as a PR consultant. You can advise and help retain the client, and you can advise management regarding the client's issues.