What sort of questions should you expect when it comes to an entry-level PR job interview? There are three of the most common.

By Michelle Favalora
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of PR hopefuls around the globe dusting off their resumes and pencil skirts as they start to prepare for what I like to call “job interview season.” Graduation is quickly approaching, and for many college seniors, that means getting serious about finding that full-time post-grad job.

Here are a few FAQs from aspiring PR pros and tips for standing out in a sea of job candidates.

My resume is a bit sparse. What can I do if I don’t have much job experience?

If you don’t have much professional experience, you’ll want to focus your search on internships. Many internships can lead to career advancement opportunities at the company and are a great way to get your foot in the door.

However, in order to land that internship, you’ll still want to showcase your skills and speak on relevant experience. A few good ideas to boost your qualifications and impress hiring managers include: create a blog to showcase your writing and passions, upload writing and project samples to an online portfolio and engage in industry conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter, among other social platforms.

Writing is a critical skill for PR professionals, and in the age of the Internet, you don’t need an employer to show the world that you can string a few sentences together. Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips, and be sure to showcase any writing samples you’re particularly proud of in your application.

Now I have a few experiences to list. How can I make my application/resume even better?

Do your research. Many college grads are surprised to find out how much research goes into PR. Folks in PR tend to be the ultimate online investigators, as we monitor the Web activity of journalists, clients and competitors closely.

Not only is it vital to show that you know how to research, but coming into an interview fully prepared with a thorough background of the company and your interviewers will impress everyone in the room. It’s a two-fold strategy — you’re demonstrating a key skill in public relations (researching), but you’re also showing the company that you’re taking this opportunity seriously.

Personalize your resume and cover letter to fit the specific company. Use similar language they include on their website or job posting. Exhibit that you understand their key values and mission.

Feel free to ask the hiring manager for the names of the folks you’ll be interviewing with. From there, you can look them up on LinkedIn and their social platforms. In the interview, comment on one of their awesome blog posts (like this one 🙂 ) or recent secured coverage that they shared.

My resume looks good, but I’m still not landing an interview. What can I do?

If you’re not hearing back after you’ve submitted your application, first make sure you’re following up with the recruiter and/or hiring manager. Don’t be a “one and done” kind of applicant.

If that doesn’t work, look for someone at the company that you might be able to connect with. This could be an HR or office manager, or someone that you have something in common with that you would feel comfortable reaching out to.

PR pros are well-versed in the act of following up, since we do just that with our media outreach regularly. We’ll appreciate a follow-up to your note, just make sure you limit yourself to no more than three total emails.

With these tips, you’re well on your way to finding success this job interview season. For more advice for PR job seekers, check out our posts on the ideal qualities of a job candidate and tips for dressing for your interview.

Also, take a look at Hoffman’s careers page to see our current job openings.

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