Secrets to PR Job Interviews

Interviewing for a job is difficult. The interview process at TriplePoint goes beyond the cookie-cutter question sets you’re used to being asked. Beyond the skills required for a PR career, like superior writing and the ability to make decisions quickly, the ideal candidate for an intern or entry-level position must build a combination of rapport, confidence and trust during the interview process. My goal when interviewing candidates is to determine if I could rely on you to speak professionally in a client meeting, trust you with a project if I get sick, and eventually add you to a variety of client accounts.

Instead of feeling anxious about an interview, think of it as an opportunity to meet new people that have the same interests you do. Your goal should be to inspire your potential employers. For us, interviewing a candidate means we have half an hour to learn everything possible about someone we’re most likely meeting for the first time. Let this interview be a highlight of our day! I’ve included a couple of tips to make this happen, below.

Make your resume one page, and tell us in the interview what would be on the second. We’re already familiar with your basic accomplishments, but recognize that you’re much more than a piece of paper. Are you a champion grillmaster? Have you just finished your sixth marathon? Do you know the best place to get a mean eggs Benedict in NYC? Tell us something about you that we may not guess.

Present yourself like you’re meeting with your dream client. A polished appearance is more important than a fancy suit, but err on the side of formality. We may be dressed casually, but need to know that you can present yourself professionally to a client. Bring your resume and a notebook, and take notes during the interview. This gauges whether you’ll come prepared to a client meeting.

Aim to arrive between five minutes early and exactly at your scheduled interview time. This tip may sound obvious, but it carries more importance than you may think. If you’re hired, let’s say you and I have different morning appointments in the city but need to meet at a client site at 1 pm. The time you arrive at the interview shows us how punctual you can be for future appointments, and builds our trust.

Know the company. You should be able to describe why TriplePoint (or any company where you’re interviewing) is different from other companies in its space. We understand PR is a crowded field, and expect you to do your research about what sets TriplePoint apart. Use the website as a guide. Look at our LinkedIn profiles or the TriplePoint Twitter page! Tell us what makes us unique, and why you’d like to work with us specifically.

When describing your past experiences, focus on what you individually contributed to a project. Conversely, don’t take full credit for a project if you worked on a team — we can tell. Express your achievements, but be humble when describing a group effort. This skill shows us how you’ll fare working with a team.

Ask questions at any point during the interview. During the interview, we’ll most likely spend some time describing TriplePoint and our work. Asking questions throughout the interview shows us you’re engaged and articulate. You should also come prepared with questions for when our interview portion concludes. And if you’re being interviewed by multiple people, ask different questions.

Demonstrate adaptability. As a small company, TriplePoint asks employees to take on a variety of roles, from writing key messages to planning our next games night to contributing to our databases. Whereas this trait is important at a larger company, it is absolutely necessary at a smaller one.

Make the interview as much of a conversation as possible. This was some of the earliest job advice I was given, and it’s held true over time. An interview only has to be as stilted as you make it. Even if you’re not a natural extrovert, listening to how we describe the company and asking pointed questions can be much more powerful than speaking about yourself. We sometimes hold interviews in coffee shops to make the vibe more natural. These experiences can be much more revealing than a formal conversation.

If you don’t know an answer to a question, say you’ll get back to us. Then do it. I didn’t have a clue how to answer one of my final-round interview questions at TriplePoint. So I asked to get back to the company, spent a couple days doing research and asking friends, and emailed my thoughts in my thank-you note. Likewise…

Teach us something in your thank-you note. Share something with us in the note that can help us, whether it’s an interesting startup you’ve found or a games writer whose work you admire. Try to send it within 48 hours of your conversation.

While you may have won us over in the interview, you may not be hired as quickly as you like. Our interview process looks for trust first and fit second. I’ve interviewed candidates that I’d love to spend more time with because they are genuinely intelligent, remarkable people, but we may not have the specific need for their background. These situations are always challenging, but ultimately come down to what our company needs at the moment. If you don’t hear from us right away, follow up! And if we don’t have a place for you at the moment, send us an update when you land your next job — we always appreciate hearing from the applicants we meet, and you never know when a space may become available.

We’re always looking for talented applicants to join us! Check out TriplePoint’s current job listings here.