Blog: Interview Tips from a PR Professional

I wrote this blog post for a class at BYU. I interviewed a PR professional named Shauna Valentine. I worked with her on campus for the David O. McKay School of Education. Since she interviewed and hired me for that job, I wanted to pick her brain on how to succeed in interviews.

What PR professionals look for when they hire new employees

Learn how to ace your next interview with advice from a seasoned PR pro

Public relations pro Shauna Valentine has been doing PR longer than most college students have been alive. Her 29 years of experience in the field more than qualify her to give out advice. For the last 13 years of her career Shauna has worked at Brigham Young University. She has interviewed and hired hundreds of student interns. I sat down with her to pick her expert mind about how to ace job/internship interviews.

Shauna’s sage advice during our interview can be broken into four main points: (1) prepare skillfully, (2) show balanced confidence, (3) give thoughtful answers and (4) be a team player.

Prepare like a boss

To prepare like a boss it to think like a boss. You should learn as much as you can about your potential employer as you can, as if you were the boss of the place.

You’re not going to be able to find everything about the company through Google. That’s not the point anyway. Your research will spur questions you have about them that you can ask in the interview.

“I’m always so impressed with people who know about our office before they come,” Shauna says. “Do some work ahead of time so you can ask questions.”

Another way to prepare like a boss is to have the swagger of a boss. Not the feigned swagger of Michael Scott, but the self-assurance that you’re right for the job. However, remember that you aren’t the boss…yet.

Strike a balance

“There’s such a line between being confident and being the know-it-all,” Shauna says. Don’t try to hijack the interview or brag about your accomplishments. She comments, “The hardest thing is working with a student who thinks they know the best way to do it.”

You need to strike the perfect balance between showing your qualifications and bragging. The real key to that balance is how you present yourself and how you answer questions during the interview.

Give it a little thought

Interviews are full of carefully chosen questions, so your answers should be carefully thoughtful. On each end of the spectrum there are potential pitfalls—don’t give answers that are too short, but don’t ramble.

Shauna says, “There are times where at the end we didn’t really know the person, but we asked all the questions.” To avoid this, make sure your answers tell the interviewer something about you that they can’t read on your resume.

Illustrative examples and concrete stories are critical in helping interviewers learn about you, says Shauna. It’s good to list an accomplishment, but it’s better to talk about how you did it. Your responses are opportunities to answer questions that haven’t been explicitly asked. One of those unspoken characteristics Shauna looks for is teamwork.

Show team spirit

“I want somebody who is a team player,” Shauna says. Shauna knows from experience that nothing in this industry happens because of the efforts of a team of people.

You can show your team spirit without pom-poms. You just need to show in your answers that you value team work, and recognize the importance of comradery. Shauna wants to maintain an office of colleagues who enjoy going to lunch together.

If you prepare carefully, balance confidence with humility, give thoughtful answers and be a team player, you’ll ace your next job/internship interview—take it from a pro.

When’s your next interview? How are you going to make sure you ace it?

Shauna Valentine has given more interviews than college credits you’ve taken

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