The purpose of the interview is usually not to identify the perfect candidate with the perfect amount of experience, but rather someone with the right skills that can be molded to the organization.
- All responses should be 2 minutes or less
- Give specifics, not hypotheticals, when speaking about past experience
- Always emphasize results
- Quantify when possible (i.e. As a result of my work at my internship, social media impressions increased by 300% by the end of the summer)
The majority of employers want to know that you have the following skills:
- Thirst for Knowledge
If you do not know the right answer, don't worry! Emphasize the skills above and always show a willingness to learn and you will succeed.
Skills-based questions are specific to your experience with a particular hardware, software or programs. You will most likely have to demonstrate your skills to the interviewer or take a test of your abilities.
These questions are more common for students pursuing a creative position, such as one related to Visual Communications, Advertising or Public Relations.
- Tell me about your experience using the Adobe Creative Suite
- Tell me about your experience using WordPress, HootSuite and TweetDeck
Situational questions are usually framed as hypothetical questions, such as "What would you do if...". These are very similar to behavioral questions, with the only difference being that behavioral questions are based on past experience while situational questions ask how you would respond in the future.
This gives the employer an idea of how you would respond in a difficult situation in the future.
- Let's say you are working with several clients at the same time and are on a tight deadline. One of your clients is becoming increasingly demanding despite being a smaller account. How do you satisfy both of their needs and deliver good work product at the same time? What steps would you take?
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral Interviewing is the most common type of interview questions you are likely to receive. These questions are based on your previous experience in internships, student organizations, etc... and "What would you do if..." questions? The purpose of the type of this interview is to confirm how you will behave in specific work situations.
The purpose of this question is to tell the employer what they want to know, not to reiterate your life story. This is a challenging one but an important opportunity to steer the conversation and tell the interviewer what you want them to know!
EXAMPLE RESPONSE: "I am a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in Public Relations. I was fortunate enough to complete 3 internships over the course of my college career: one at the Darla Moore School of Business in their marketing department, working for Representative Jim Clyburn and at Edelman in New York City. I was also involved in my sorority, Chi Omega, and the Public Relations Student Society of America during all 4 years of college. I am very interested in relocating to New York City after graduation. I have a strong interest in the fashion and entertainment industry and Carat is my dream company. I have been closely following your work with the P&G account and I really like the Pantene "Not Sorry" campaign that you all created, encouraging female empowerment. This is a core value of mine and I would love to work on a similar campaign!"
Pick 3-5 strengths here and try to come up with at least 1-2 examples. Talk about skills that are relevant to the job or internship you are applying for, i.e. writing or graphic design.
EXAMPLE RESPONSE: “I am proud of my writing skills and believe that they will make me a better Account Manager. I am able to communicate complicated topics to different audiences. I can take a lot of data and information and find the story and themes that clients need to know about. I honed my research and writing abilities as an editor for the Daily Gamecock, where I learned how to write well on deadline from pretty demanding editors. I even won an award for my series on the financial crisis.”
The trick here is to talk about an area where you are currently improving, not your actual weaknesses. This is an opportunity for you to show that you are self-aware and cognizant of areas of improvement AND that you can take concerted steps to improve. As with all interview questions, always emphasize results!
EXAMPLE RESPONSE: "An area where I can still develop is public speaking. I am naturally an introvert so I prefer one-on-one conversation but this started to become an issue when I was assigned projects where I had to present in front of my entire class. It was affecting my grades and I knew that it was an obstacle I needed to tackle. I went to my university's speech center every week and worked with a personalized coach there to improve my speaking skills. We started off practicing reading poems aloud and then essays and short stories. Over time, I noticed my nerves were getting better and my grades were improving. To this day, public speaking is a bit of a challenge for me but I am getting better everyday."
Employers ask this question to ensure that you can work well with others and that you are resilient. They do not want to hire someone who cannot work with others or who holds a grudge. It is imperative to show that you are adaptable to the workplace.
EXAMPLE RESPONSE: "In my PR class, I was assigned to work with 3 other classmates on a real campaign for Richland Elementary School. The week before it was due, my classmates were all unexpectedly sick or out of town. I had no help or support. I worked tirelessly to complete the project on my own. I had to learn new skills such as WordPress, HootSuite and Google Analytics on the spot since I did not have any help. It was difficult but taught me a lot about pressure and deadlines. In the end, the project was turned in successfully and on time. The client was very happy with the final project and their social media impressions increased by 300% after implementing our strategy!"
- Tell me about a time you showed initiative
- Tell me about a time you failed
- Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?