The moment of truth has arrived and you’ve been asked to come in for that all important first interview. While stress and nerves may be unavoidable, being prepared can certainly alleviate some of the pressure.
Before you take centre stage, you will need to build a convincing argument about why you want to work for that company, demonstrate your commitment and interest in the job, and address the important issues that you will be communicating or advocating on their behalf.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make, is to spend too much time researching the organisation and the issues affecting them, and not enough time on you and how you come across. As a general rule 50% of your total prep time should be on the organisation / issues and 50% on you.
Research the business
- You’d be crazy not to start with the company’s website
- Make a note of the business’ brand values and their overall mission statement
- If there is a public affairs policy page on the website, check it out
- Familiarise yourself with their annual report – Yahoo Finance is a free resource to find out information on PLCs
- Look at their profile on Glassdoor and LinkedIn (here’s ours for starters)
- Follow and like their social channels and track who they monitor for a guide on their stakeholders
- Set up Google alerts for daily news on the business
- Find out if the company is part of a trade association and read their industry positions
- Check the APPC register to see if they use communications consultancy support
- Look into their competitors
Research the people
- Check the background and social media presence of the CEO / Chairman / leadership team
- Find out who is on the interview panel and research their career history
- If possible, identify who you could be replacing and research their career history
- Speak with existing or past employees or identify shared contacts so they can introduce you
- NB: LinkedIn is a great place to research career profiles
Prepare your profile
- Go through the job specification point by point and apply your previous experience
- If you don’t tick every box identify what transferrable skills you can offer (remember they are looking for someone who wants to learn and progress as well as aptitude)
- Identify what you can bring to the job that no-one else can
- Use the STAR method: The situation, the task, the actions taken, and the result (click here to find out more)
- List your strengths and weaknesses and apply examples
- Identify a professional challenge you have had to overcome
- Outline your overall ambitions – this question quite often crops up
- Remember your lobbying skills – be persuasive and enthusiastic in your delivery
If you are looking for additional tips and suggestions on how to ace a job interview, there are many articles that can help. We have outlined our best advice but you can also seek help from other credible sources, such as:
Sometimes even the most prepared individuals can be caught off guard with a curve ball question, so it is best to leave no stone unturned. Influence Magazine has compiled some interesting, and rather funny, questions that could crop up on the day.
After walking out of the interview room the waiting begins. The amount of time can vary, from hearing back the next day to two weeks later, so try not to panic if you don’t receive an answer straight away. If they seem to be taking longer than anticipated it is advisable to send a follow-up email or call to check your progress – whether you are dealing directly with the company or speaking to a recruitment agency. Make sure you approach them in a professional and friendly manner and avoid demanding an answer, no matter how eager you are to find out.
Finally, be persistent. You may not get the first job you apply for, so it is crucial to remain resilient and positive throughout the whole process. With that in mind, it won’t be long before you are offered a coveted position within the communications industry.
And if you need a little light relief in between researching and preparing, take a quick look at The Poke’s (tongue in cheek) interview tips.