Questions about PR job interview
June 14, 2009 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Oh my! I've been shortlisted for a PR job at a university. AskMe, what might they ask me at the interview, and have you any tips as to how I ought answer?

I'm a (newspaper) journalist who's been shortlisted for a job doing PR at a university. Hurrah! I understand from this question how my reporting experience will be valuable to a PR employer. But I'm a bit at sea as to what PR-specific questions might ask me at the interview tomorrow.

I've had a look at areas of research the interview panel members specialise in with a view to tailoring my responses in the interview; am au fait with the university's media and marketing efforts, including social media, and I'm able to provide specific examples of how I can leverage my experience/skills into positive coverage for them.

I'm also OK with general interview stuff – how to answer the ''Where do you see yourself in five years / what's your greatest weakness / why did you leave your last job?'' type questions.

But PR specific questions? And University PR? The only other question I can think of is how might I approach damage control and negative incidents.

i) What else might they ask me?
ii) How could I best answer?
iii) Have I forgotten anything?

Also: I'm in Australia, not the US if that makes any difference.

Thank you AskMe. (And wish me luck!)
posted by t0astie to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In my interviews, I always ask:

1) Define PR for me

2) What do you read?

3) How can New Media be relevant? (expect to be asked about Facebook, Linked In, etc.

4) How is your experience relevant?

5) specifically for you, do you know any education beat reporters?

As for University PR, I worked for a few education clients, and other than showing you researched the university (take a look around on Lexis Nexis if you have access, or Google News if you don't), it's not a bad idea to discuss how you see the University being represented. I'd ask THEM what they'd like their image to be, and how they are implementing that. Hopefully this will start a conversation.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:10 PM on June 14, 2009

(And Luck!)

send me a mail if you have anything specific, or you'd like to know how successful candidates answered questions, and I'll do the best for you I can.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:11 PM on June 14, 2009

Best answer: As somebody on the team to hire a media person, I can tell you that we're going to be asking the candidates questions about the company they are interviewing for. We want to know that the candidates understand the types of PR concerns that the company has, and can come up with some effective plans to address them. Oh, and we're going to be doing on-the-spot writing activities (writing ledes, etc.).
posted by answergrape at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2009

Best answer: Not specific to interviewing, but one tip--
I heard from a broadcast journalist that her regular, weekly emails from the nearby state university were some of the most valued PR emails she received. In each email, she would receive a list of likely topics of news stories for the week, a list of university experts relevant to those topics, and the expert contact information and bio.

Good stuff.
posted by samthemander at 9:55 PM on June 14, 2009

Best answer: They'll probably ask you questions that demonstrate your knowledge about:

- the news cycle and tactics for getting stories into print
- working in a bureaucratic environment (hint: allow plenty of time for signoff)
- creating effective messaging while working in a highly bureaucratic environment (hint: lots of consultation with key stakeholders)
- basic PR/comms skills (creating comms plans, news releases, speaking notes)
- basic event management skills (can you create an event plan?)
- protocol
- background knowledge of the university
- project management skills

PR is a pretty broad term. Assuming you're being interviewed more for the comms side of things, perhaps you should leave online strategy to the marketing department. In fact, you could ask questions about the marketing department - what strategies do they use, how closely do you work with them, etc. do demonstrate interest.

Good luck!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:51 PM on June 14, 2009

Response by poster: My god, you guys are incredible! Thank you all.
posted by t0astie at 3:54 AM on June 15, 2009

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