Tips to Prepare for Your PR Internship Interview

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You've completed your application and submitted your resume and cover letter. Shortly after, you receive a phone call or email asking you to come into the office for an interview. How do you prepare? Here are several tips on how to impress your interviewer and land that public relations internship.

Why PR?

Before your interview, reflect on your decision to go into public relations. Every interviewer you speak with will ask why you want to work in PR. Make sure you can sell your passion for the industry and have a solid explanation as to why you are suited for this field.

Take a close look at what the job description entails and what skills are required for the position. For example, if they are seeking someone with strong writing skills, they will definitely ask related questions during your interview. Ideally, use examples of how you have been successful in the past and how you can be an asset for the company.

Research, Research, Research

Aside from preparing answers to common interview questions, be sure to take the time to research the company interviewing you. Look at their website, social media channels, recent news coverage they received, as well as past and current projects. Reading staff member bios will also give you a better idea of the company culture and what type of personality or experience they are looking for. If you are able to incorporate your knowledge about the company within the interview — for example, your interest in a project they are working on — your interviewer will surely be impressed.

Aside from company-specific research, take a look at their competitors and what's happening overall in the industry. Since the public relations world is constantly evolving, it's important to stay updated and informed. You should be able to provide examples of interesting or noteworthy things happening in the industry, as well.

Bring a Hard Copy of Your Skills

Have a few writing samples on hand, even if they didn't specifically ask you to provide them. Most public relations internships will include content writing for the company, such as press releases or social media posts. Having a few writing samples handy shows the interviewer that you are not only an experienced writer, but you are proud of your craft and willing to show what you can do.

Writing samples to include are a press release, recent essay, appropriate social media posts, blog posts or any piece of writing that is appropriate, relevant to the position and will set you apart from others.

Be Prepared For a Test

Depending on the internship, you may be asked to take an editing or writing test to gauge your skills. This test may be timed, but don't panic; practice makes perfect. Practice writing a paragraph or two in advance — focusing on correct grammar, precise language and clarity.

There are a number of resources online to help you practice your writing and editing skills. Being mentally prepared for a possible writing test will eliminate the surprise factor if the company chooses to give you one.

Ask Questions

At the end of every interview, you will always be asked if you have any questions. The worst answer you could give is "No." This shows that you are not fully interested in the position or company. There is always more to learn and you should have at least 5-6 questions prepared beforehand. These questions may include:

  • What skills do you think are most important to succeed at this role?
  • What are some areas that previous interns have struggled in and what are solutions to these struggles?
  • Why do they enjoy working for that company?
  • What are the opportunities for growth in the company?

Be Yourself

Never lie about who you are or what skills you have. Your interviewer will be able to tell right away that you are not being authentic and will immediately be turned off. If you feel the need to change your personality for an interview or lie about your background, you probably aren't looking in the right place for an internship.

It is important to embrace your skills, and be honest about what you are looking for in an internship. Your interviewer knows that you may not have years of public relations experience under your belt — the whole point of an internship is to learn and grow as a professional. Companies are looking for individuals who are open to new learning experiences and willing to work hard.

Dress For Success

This may be obvious, but you would be surprised how many people are unaware of the correct attire for an interview. Dressing professionally shows that you care about the interview and sets you up for success from the beginning. As they say: look good, feel good.

Body language is also important throughout an interview. Make sure to maintain eye contact and good posture, use active listening, smile and avoid fidgeting. These small details can make or break the impression you give off to your interviewer.

Say Thank You

After your interview, make sure to thank your interviewer for their time. A verbal "thank you" with a handshake at the end of your in-person interview is essential. You should always go one step further and send your interviewer a hand-written thank you note. This will make you stand out amongst other applicants and truly show that you care about this position. If, for some reason, you are unable to mail a note, follow-up with an email the next day. It can be short, thanking them for their time and sharing your excitement to learn about the opportunities the company has to offer.

Take these simple steps for your next interview and you are sure to impress. And once you land that public relations internship, download FH's guide to rocking your job or internship!