Published on September 24, 2019, at 10:27 a.m.
by Caroline Richards.
It’s 2:14 p.m.
You’re sitting next to the phone. You interviewed at your dream firm last week, and they said they’d call today at 2 p.m. with their decision. Your leg bounces nervously. You’re thinking of the pictures you’ll put on the walls of your new cubicle. A real job with salary? Sounds amazing.
2:15. 2:16. 2:17. The minutes feel like hours.
Finally, the phone rings. You wait a few seconds to answer—you don’t want to seem too eager. You take a deep breath and pick up the phone.
Your heart drops.
“After interviewing several other candidates, we’re sorry to inform you that you were not selected for the job.”
These are the last words you want to hear after interviewing for the position of your dreams. With 15,000 jobs expected to be added in just the next four years, the public relations industry is booming with potential. But as the industry is on the rise, so is the competition among PR professionals. To compete for your ideal role, your resumé can only take you so far. If you have a bad interview, even the most impressive of portfolios, student jobs, summer internships—heck, even a Nobel Prize—won’t be reason enough to give you the job.
Jared Cook, one of the senior directors at the highly successful startup company, Domo, Inc., regularly interviews candidates for internships and full-time positions. Cook specializes in digital marketing and online advertising and is looking for the cream of the crop to help build the company. In an interview with Cook, he gave three tips that will help you wow your future bosses and land you your dream job.
Help Them Help You
One of the most crucial moments in an interview will take place even before the interview formally begins. Instead of small talk about the weather, start a conversation that gets the interviewer talking about their job. Cook suggests starting off an interview with something like, “Thanks for taking some time with me today. Do you mind telling me a bit about your role and what some of your key priorities are?” Not only does this show that you have interest in them and the company, you’ll be able to pick up on bits of valuable information that can help you shape your answers. Cook goes on to say, “If you know what projects and goals they are working toward, you can show how your skills will help them reach their goals.” In short, help them help you.
Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Your Homework
Your school days may be over, but this is the time when homework really matters. As an upcoming PR professional, research is one of your best skills. Sure, everyone knows that you’re supposed to read up on the company you’re applying to work for, but your future boss is looking for something more. In terms of research, Cook said, “I find most candidates… don’t adequately show what they’ve learned [about the company]. Rather, they wait for the question that draws out the fact that they did their homework.” Showing your interviewer that you did your research before they even have to ask will be sure to impress them. Find something current and relevant that’s going on in the company and link it to one of your strengths or interests. For example, you could say something like, “I’ve noticed [company name] has put a large emphasis lately on meeting customers’ needs. I’ve had a lot of experience with this in…” Not only does this show that your dog was nowhere near your homework, it also shows that you’re the right fit for the job.
Don’t Leave Them Hanging
The vast majority of interviews end the same way: “Do you have any questions for us?” Whether you have a pressing question or not, don’t leave your interviewer hanging. Just in case no specific questions enter your mind during the course of the interview, think of questions beforehand that you can ask. Some insightful questions Cook suggests asking include:
● What do you like most about working here?
● How would you describe the culture of the team?
● The job description says you are looking for someone with (fill in the blank). Can you tell me more about that?
As you ask questions, your interviewer will be able to see that you’re serious about the company and the position, and it will help you know if this is somewhere you could really see yourself working.
Your next interview will feel like a piece of cake if you can implement these three strategies. Asking about your interviewer and listening intently, showing them that you did your homework without them having to ask, and being prepared with insightful questions will set you apart from anyone else who steps into their office.
The next time you take a deep breath to answer the phone, be prepared to hear these words:
“After interviewing several other candidates, we’re thrilled to offer you a position here at our company.”