HI EVERYONE! I’m Shaffa and I’m interning at Pepper Your Talk.
I recently had an interview for a PR job (Yes, Dior knows lol) and I decided to share my experience with you all.
Going into my very first interview after graduating was a big deal! To think that they actually took time to look through my 10 times edited cover letter and my perfectly polished CV, made me feel good. But, MY GOD, I was nervous!
The first tip I will give you is to arrive 10-15 minutes early, for obvious reasons; but also to spend a few minutes calming your nerves. Take in the environment and get your game face on. Greet your interviewer/s with a firm hand shake and smile, both assertive and friendly.
One of the biggest contributors to pre-interview nerves is the fear of the unknown, more so, not knowing what questions to expect. So, I’ve laid out my interview experience, question by question, topped by some of the top tips to help you through each one.
Talk us through your previous experience within the fashion industry?
Having taken on several PR office internships, I was able to speak about the responsibilities afforded to me in those roles.
If you have no previous office experience, your knowledge of the industry should be second to none and this comes from through research! Also, use this question as an opportunity to express what it is about the industry that you’re most intrigued by and what it is that you are keen to learn more about. Lack of experience may not always be your downfall, but the lack of enthusiasm might be.
What are you doing in your current position and why are you thinking of leaving?
On weekdays, I’m working as the Pepper Your Talk intern and on weekends I work in a luxury retail store. Yet, as much as I love working for PYT and enjoy the customer interaction of my weekend job, a PR role would be my dream.
Use this question to demonstrate why this particular side of the industry interests you more than what you’re currently doing. Don’t bad-mouth the role you’re currently in, emphasise how it has challenged you to develop existing skills or learn new ones.
How are your Photoshop Skills? (This was advertised as a crucial skill for the role)
When applying for an entry-level position within a small office, always be aware that you may be required to take on more tasks than your peers who work for bigger names. Smaller office, big responsibility – remember that as a rule! Therefore when asked about knowledge of programmes such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator – you will be tested!
If the need for a skill is specifically stated, DO NOT LIE about your competence level. As a beginner be willing to learn, even in your spare time. Ask about the tasks that will be required from you on the programmes and get busy on learning how to ace them.
Give us an example of how you have shown team management.
Like me, you may just graduated, therefore have never been given the opportunity to manage a team. Don’t panic, the interviewer knows this but wants to see how you’ve identified as a ‘leader’ in a situation. Although you are going for an entry-level position, your interviewer wants to test that you have the right skills required for the role.
Think back on a time when you’ve taken control of a situation that involved you and other members of your team (internships, weekend job, University). Has a situation occurred in which you utilised your star skills, delegated amongst your team and took control of the situation?
The answer should end with the POSITIVE outcome of the situation.
What are your strengths and weaknesses and how have you developed them?
Personally, this is one of my favourite questions as it demonstrates your ability to step back and self-reflect. It’s important to be open and honest. Don’t venture away to qualities that don’t relate to the job you’re interviewing for.
Often time people get stuck on the weakness aspect and say something predictable such as ‘I’m a perfectionist’. Use this question to be honest but always combat that with how you are working on this particular weakness and how you are measuring your growth.
Why do you want to work for us?
This is where your research about the company is essential! There is no excuse to stumble on a question like this.
Your answer should include the company’s USP, a specific story of when they have achieved amazing PR results or created a campaign that you personally love and how you can see yourself achieving your career goals there, as well as how you can help them grow.
Which of our brand do you like?
A PR agency is only as good as the brands they represent! I wanted to walk into that interview with as much knowledge on each brand as possible. A few days before the interview, I visited all the websites of the brands they represent, travelled around London to the stores and stalked their socials.
Having found some special qualities in a few of the brands, I was confident enough to speak about them and genuinely had positive things to say about my favourite brands.
What is your availability? And are you looking for any other jobs?
You can never be too keen to start and if you’re available next Monday and the other candidates are available after they work their month’s notice, this could work in your favour. At the same time, don’t leave your current work place on bad terms (e.g quitting and refusing to work your notice).
Are you are looking for other jobs? Yes! Then say so. You don’t have to be specific or give too much detail as that isn’t why you’re there. Keep the answer honest but short. If the employer is impressed by you, then they wouldn’t want anyone else scooping you up.
References and if you’re getting to the next stage…
I was asked for the email addresses of my two references, so be sure to have these ready. This should be your most recent employer or possibly a University tutor if this is your first role since graduating.
The second stage interview will be an assessment in which I will be required to create a newsletter and write a press release for one of their brands. Second stage interviews vary as some companies will want you to meet senior members of the team or will set other tasks for you.
Both of the aforementioned assessments are key factors in showcasing some of the main skills needed for a role within PR, therefore expect to be tested on your writing and communications abilities.
And lastly…. Do I have any questions?
I had a few in mind but I decided to ask about office environment and the structure of the team. These are important questions as it will give you an insight into how your role plays into the team and how well you will fit into the office.
I am proud of my performance in the interview and can only hope for the best. No matter how things go, I realise that everything is an opportunity and chance to learn. Wish me luck guys!