Interview tips for perfect placements


This is an article by Tom Fawcett.
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PR students across the country realise the great importance of gaining experience to further their PR careers.

Therefore maximising your chances of getting a placement is crucial in such a harsh and fiercely competitive industry.

Most PR-related courses require or highly recommend taking a placement year; this is to develop the skills you have already developed and to build your CV to make you as employable as possible upon graduating.

With PR venturing into so many different areas, industrial placements are available in a variety of industries; this therefore gives you the opportunity to try your preferred area before committing to a full time job in that industry after graduation.

However this isn’t easy. Applicantions are at an all time high with people from other courses applying, so competition will be tough.

So here are some tips and advice on how to achieve your perfect placement.

Application

  • Attend all placement lectures to gain good knowledge and tips on applying. (dates and times will be given at the beginning of the semester)
  • Ensure you have good foundations with a solid CV and covering letter checked by the placement office.
  • Sign up to placement websites to be sent automated emails on the latest placements.
  • Do not just use placement websites, attend placement fairs and seek company websites.
  • Apply as early as possible to every opportunity that comes, you can never have too many options.
  • Ensure you answer applications thoroughly and correctly. And always prepare and save your answers in another document.

Interview (Telephone Interviews)

  • For telephone interviews be prepared for standard questions. i.e. Why do you want to work for the company?
  • What publications do you think the organisation target?
  • What sector of PR or Marketing interests you the most and why?
  • Who are the main competitors?
  • And finally always prepare a question to ask the company, this shows you have a good level of interest and want to be involved further with the company
  • For formal interviews and assessment centre days preparation is essential.

Here are some views from students who have already secured their placements at Disney and Vauxhall.

“Do your research and know more about the company than your interviewers do. For my interview I memorised the history of the company, had read into the company culture, knew which schemes they were running and how big they are on CSR and I also knew exactly what people were saying about them (using tools such as Twitter and Facebook). I also found my interviewers on LinkedIn and read up on their careers”

“Take your time before answering questions and make sure that you answer them in the correct format. A lot of companies now expect you to answer questions in a STAR format. It is always good to quickly prepare your answer in your head for a few seconds before sharing them.”

“Smile and be positive. If anyone asks you about previous experiences always speak about them in a positive light as if you show a negative image of your experiences it could make you look negative. Employers want positive people to work with.”

“My interview was nothing like I expected or had planned for but because I had covered everything in my research I was ok. Make sure you take time to think about your answers at interview stages.”

“Taking along examples of your work it allows you to confidently speak, because it’s your work and you’re proud of it. Finally, be passionate if it really is your dream job like Disney was mine you need to make them aware why, and what you can bring to the team etc.”

Furthermore a clean-cut, smart look is key; remember you’re representing yourself and potentially the organisation.

In summary it is important to be persistent, accurate and precise when applying to a company. Tailor applications to suit particular organisations, and establish what they’re looking for in a candidate before submitting an application.

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