10 Tips for Communications Interviews

10 Tips for Communications Interviews

As some of you may already know, The Washington Center holds a variety of unique evening workshops throughout the semester that are open to all students. Starting with the basics of resume building and networking tactics, TWC really helps you prepare for the real world. The evening sessions are taught by The Washington Center's accredited academic and career services team. Some of the opportunities this semester included; Negotiating your First Salary, Getting LinkedIn, and Skills for Non-Profit Management. The courses are designed to give you a large amount of information in a useful and organized way.


Top 10 Things You Need to Know for a Marketing/Communications/PR Position

I recently attended an extremely beneficial session and wanted to share what I had learned and add my own input on the subject. I think a lot of these tips are great for any job interview in today's communications driven world. This session was only a few days before a big interview of mine, so I had the opportunity to put all of these strategies to good use!


1. Refine Your Writing Skills

If you're applying for any kind of communications internship, your prospective employer is going to look for good writing skills. Definitely have an understanding of different modes of writing. For example: press releases, blogs, stories, articles, and reports. It's always a good idea to bring along a portfolio of your work so you have a few samples to discuss during your interview. In the TWC session we even talked about how critical grammar and formatting can be when communications professionals are looking over your resume and cover letters -- you want to make sure you make a good impression from the start! Don't let a misplaced comma end your chances of scoring a job!


2. Create a Professional Online Presence

In today's social media day and age, everyone has an online presence. It is essential that yours is professional and consistent. Consistency is key in branding and you will want to use the same name or title for yourself throughout your various networking sites. Having a clean and thorough LinkedIn page is a must. As far as Facebook settings, TWC professionals recommended making sure your privacy settings are tight and that employers can only see what you'd want them to. (Not that there's anything to hide, right?... )


Anyways, you also want to be sure your content is interesting. If your personal blog is searchable, make sure the content is good and relates to your career aspirations in some way. For example, if you are trying to get a job as a publicist, you should have some event reviews and relevant information as opposed to cute puppy pictures. Even though everyone does need a good puppy face here and there....


Here's a cute picture of Elise's dog Duncan; and a perfect example of what NOT to do with your web-content. Stick to the good stuff!


3. Join Professional Groups

This is applicable to any career, but you can meet lots of people in your industry by joining professional groups. It always makes a good impression to show you are involved. For communications or marketing students, TWC recommends joining groups like the AMA, PRSSA, or the National Press Club. Even if you don't wish to join, you should be aware of groups that relate to your interests and the types of events and opportunities they offer. Newsletters from organizations like these can also be extremely helpful to young professionals.


4. Stay Organized

It is essential to be organized as a communications professional. Employers want to know specifics so don't just tell them you can multi-task and are detail-oriented, tell them how. Lists, planners, Excel, whatever it is, future employers want to know how you are going to meet deadlines and stay on track.


5. Keep up with Industry Trends

Before your interview you will want to have a basic knowledge of industry trends. Newsletters and blogs are a great way to keep up. PR Week, Ad Age, and Mashable are a few need-to-know publications for communications professionals. If you are a Twitter fanatic like me, I suggest following them as I have. They post some really great articles.


6. Learn the Jargon

This is once again true for any position; you want to know the lingo. For example, for communications or marketing students you need to know what the wire is, what media training means, what a Twitter handle is and how to use it. Be prepared to impress people with your knowledge and use of these hot industry terms and phrases.


Here is a PR Dictionary and a Social Media Dictionary.


7. Read and Follow Industry Leaders

If you ever get asked who your role models are in an interview or who you admire, be sure to know some leaders in your industry. It's important to know who is setting the standards in your field and what they specialize in.


8. Engage with Employers

Employers don't just want to see that you care about a job; they want to see you care about the company and their message. Re-tweet and share their articles, comment on recent posts, find ways to interact that go farther than just the interview. Doing so will also allow others to see you are engaged with the brand.


9. Know the Tools

Knowing the tools and tricks of the trade are necessary. Definitely know how to use common applications and programs like Tweet Deck and Constant Contact if you are looking into communications positions. Even if you don't know how to use them you should be familiar with them and what they are used for.


10. Know Analytics

It's all about the numbers. Almost everything today is driven by analytics. Communications and marketing has become extremely data driven, among other things. Know what kind of data is going into decision making for your industry.



Using these strategies I felt extremely confident going into my interview last week. It's easy to see how unique and useful some of the evening sessions can be so even though they are optional, I hope all TWC interns take great advantage of them. Hopefully everyone picked up a few tips along the way.


Also, if you'd like to engage with me and stay up to date on my industry engagement, feel free to follow me on twitter (@emihranian).

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