So how do you combat these feelings? Preparation. While you may never completely get rid of the jitters that accompany you as you wait in the lobby of your would-be company, preparation will ensure that you will be able to present yourself and your abilities in the best possible light.
Also, it is important to remember that no matter how great an interviewee you are, preparation will ensure that you are that much more effective. Just as any competent public relations professional prepares for a client meeting, so too must the public relations job-seeker prepare for the interview.
So, public relations professionals, as a helpful starting point consider the following five issues that even the most confident professional should consider when preparing for an upcoming interview.
Issue 1 — How will you answer the question ''Why are you looking?''
This specific question can reveal itself in various forms such as ''Why are you looking?'' ''What brings you here today?'' or ''So, tell me about your situation.'' Regardless of how it's asked, we all know that that question will inevitably find its way into the conversation. And even though many interviewees know that the question will be asked, they often find themselves struggling to come up with an answer when it is.
Why is that? One explanation may be that it is difficult to articulate your reasons for the move. For instance, how do you tell an interviewer that you just ''know'' it's time to leave your current place of employment? That you don't have a specific reason, but that you just ''feel'' that it is time? Putting feelings into words is often difficult, especially when you haven't given them much deep consideration.
A second problem may be tied to the fact that you don't want to say something to the interviewer that he or she will look unfavorably upon. ''I hate the account supervisor with whom I always have to work,'' for instance. The question then becomes, how do I say something that is at the same time honest, but does not hurt my chances of getting the job?
To alleviate these issues, as well as others that may be preventing you from fully articulating your reasons for leaving, make sure you prepare thoroughly for every interview. Beforehand make a list of every reason you want to find a new job and determine how you can positively explain those reasons to a potential employer. Then, practice saying them. Repeat until the words that come out of your mouth are honest, are reasonable, and demonstrate that you have given this move the thought that it deserves.
Issue 2 — Do you have any nervous ticks and/or habits?
If you know that when you get nervous you chew on the cap of a pen, crack your knuckles, or twirl your hair, be prepared to control it. You want to ensure that you are remembered for your ability to handle the job and your success thus far as a public relations professional, not by how you annoyed the interviewer because you kept fidgeting in your chair. So, the key is to know yourself well enough to predict your nervous habits and have a plan for controlling them.
Issue 3 — Be ready to listen to the questions.
There are certain questions that inevitably find their way into all interviews. These may range from the previously discussed ''Why are you looking to leave?'' to ''Why do you think you'll be a good fit for our company?'' to ''What are your strengths?'' Instead of trying to anticipate what the interviewer is going to ask and rehearsing the answer in your head before they've asked it, listen to their questions.
Similarly, it is important that once the question is asked it is answered appropriately. This has more to with actually providing the information the interviewer wants to hear instead of simply providing information that places you in a positive light. So after any question is asked, think about your response before speaking.
Also, make sure that you don't cut the interviewer off or that you don't speak over him or her. By simply being mindful of the importance of listening, you will be much more effective in your delivery.
Issue 4 — What will you wear?
As companies have transitioned from ultra-conservative to business casual, some candidates have fallen under the inappropriate assumption that they do not need to dress formally for an interview. This is not the case. No matter how hip you've heard the agency you're apply to is, all of the old school rules that deal with interview attire still apply. You need to demonstrate from the moment you first meet the interviewer that you are serious about the position and the company. Remember, you're the one who has everything to prove; everyone there already landed the job! As an added note, it is wise to plan what you will be wearing in advance to prevent any last minute complications that may make you late.
Issue 5 — Do your homework!
Research, research, research. Although it is important to think about what questions will be asked and how they should be appropriately answered during an interview, it is even more important to learn about the company to which you are applying. By conducting web based searches and surfing the company website you can find a plethora of information including past and present company projects, company/officer profiles, news clips, and currents issues relating to an agency's specialty. This will enable you to generate your own questions for the interviewer, which will demonstrate your genuine interest in the business.
Ultimately, the key to any successful interview lies in the amount of preparation that goes into it. By doing all of these things your interviewer will know that you are truly interested in the company and serious about the position to which you are applying. By taking the time to think about the five issues presented here, you will know that you have covered the essentials of interview preparation, and that alone will be a tremendous confidence booster.