Common Interview Questions for PR Roles

January 2021
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Answering an interview question is an opportunity to showcase your experience, knowledge, goals and personality. As an interviewee, it is always a smart tactic to think about some of the questions that may come up during an interview, and prepare some thoughtful responses. For a PR role, you will most likely be speaking with one or more experts in the field. 

I would never suggest memorizing answers to interview questions, because sounding too rehearsed is not a positive; but practicing in advance is definitely a good idea. The STAR Method (situation, task, action, result) is the most efficient way to respond to the majority of strategic interview questions. 

If you answer a question well, then it may lead to a vibrant back-and-forth conversation that will be memorable in the mind of an interviewer, and it will help you stand out from other applicants. Here are some common questions that might arise in your PR interview, and ways to think about your responses in advance. 

Why did you choose a career in public relations?

You can approach the answer to this question in a few different ways. Think about what you love about public relations and why. What does public relations mean to you, and how does it align with your personal story? Communicate your dedication to this field in a clear and succinct way. 

If you studied public relations and communications in college, then detail why you made that decision. If you studied something else and later decided to pursue PR, then explain that choice, and how you’ve been making moves to get on the right track. 

Are you a great writer and researcher? Does telling stories make you excited? Does successfully addressing a crisis for a client give you a sense of fulfillment? Look at how the PR profession has changed in the past few years, and even the last few months alone. This is a great question that allows you to showcase both your knowledge, and who you are as a person. 

Where do you consume your news? 

The news outlets you follow may be very interesting for an interview panel, as well as your knowledge of current events. If you’re applying for a PR role within a specific industry, such as entertainment, then you should be aware of the relevant outlets and trades, such as Variety and Hollywood Reporter. If you’re applying for a PR role in the technology space, then media outlets like Wired and TechCrunch will be more pertinent.

It’s helpful for a publicist to have their finger on the pulse of the industries and trends that are of importance to their primary stakeholders and clients. This line of questioning may also serve as an opening for you to proactively discuss how you identify which outlets to pitch, how you develop relationships with reporters and journalists, and how you strategize and execute your media relations efforts for a campaign. 

Why are you interested in working here? 

This question is critical because if you can’t answer it with any specifics, then interviewers will know that you did not prepare and haven’t done any research. 

If you’re applying to an agency, then educate yourself on sectors serviced, clients represented, and even some of the history of the agency and their staffers. If you’re applying to work in-house, then you should review the organization’s website, social media presence and mentions of them in the news to better understand how they self-represent. 

Also, think about what is important to you, in terms of mission and values, and be able to articulate how that might align with the company’s mission, values and vision. Be prepared to discuss what is interesting to you about what they do, and why you want to get involved.

These are just a few examples of lines of common questioning that might arise during your PR interview, and they will often lead to many other lines of discussion. Listen to each question carefully, and think about it before you respond. Good luck on your next interview! 

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