First of all, do not send a blind email to the “contact us” email address on the company’s website. If you don’t take the time to pick up the phone and ask the company who to send your resume to, you’re just asking for your info@ or humanresources@ email to be deleted. When you do that, your email is going straight to the deleted file if you just hit “contact us” on the website and write something like “I’m looking for a job. So take your time and spend few rupees to make them a call.
Next, do your research. Know the PR industry, and know the responsibilities of a newly graduated PR person. It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone, call a PR firm, and schedule time with an employee to ask questions. This is not a job interview; it’s an informational interview where one can gain insight and ask blunt questions, including the salary question, without having the stress of impressing for a job.
Know the company you are interviewing with. Going to a company’s website to learn about who they are and what they do is not enough. Many times, firms don’t list all their current clients, and you can’t rely on reading their mission statements to know enough about them.
Find out if the company you are interviewing with has been in the news lately or if it has recently won a new client, and use that knowledge in your interview.
On that note, be familiar with the person interviewing you. When approached to come in for an interview, it is all right to ask whom you will be meeting with. This way, you can research them, find out where they came from, or find out what clients they work for. This is a good chance to impress your interviewer with your knowledge, listening, and research skills. Be prepared, and arrive with questions relating to your research.
When it comes down to the actual interview, dress to impress. Even if you know they will be wearing jeans and flip-flops, wear a suit. You always want to dress the part, and it’s not impressive not to be in a
Come prepared. Come to the interview with a pad of paper, a pen or two, extra resumes (on nice paper), personal business cards, writing samples, and any leave-behinds you might have. It is always better to have more than enough supplies than to have to ask for paper or tell the interviewer that you will send writing samples or references later.
During the interview, ask intelligent questions. There are differences in the ways most newcomers ask questions. Some don’t ask any at all, some ask questions just to ask them, and others ask smart questions, take notes, and respond to the answers. Those in the third category are the people who will make a difference in the PR world.
Be able to articulate what makes you different from any other person who might be interviewing. This is where PR skills come in handy. Make yourself a key-message guide and follow that throughout your interview. Listing your strengths with explanations and examples shows confidence and the skills of media training. If you can’t do PR for yourself, then how is someone supposed to believe you will be able to do PR for a client?
Portfolios are great to bring on an interview; they show organization, professionalism, and confidence. But they can also hurt your chances if they are not well prepared. Don’t bring your portfolio to an interview and simply hand it to the interviewer. Walk the interviewer through it if he or she asks. You don’t want to waste the time you have to impress him or her by showing work that may not be pertinent.
Try to relate what the interviewer discusses to something you have done. If you think about it, almost anything can be looked at as having a PR aspect: working in a restaurant (new business), working in retail (customer service), making the Dean’s List (results). It is up to you to be able to make that connection between what the company offers and your experience.
After the interview, follow up! Send handwritten thank-you notes to everyone you met. This means grabbing each interviewer’s business card—there is no excuse for misspelling an interviewer’s name—and relating your thank-you note to something discussed in the interview.
Even if you don’t get the job, you have expanded your network. In PR, your network is everything. Keep in touch with those you met; they might know more people hiring, and down the road, something else might open up. Hold onto business cards, and chalk everything up as experience. PR is a competitive industry, but those who have the passion for it survive.