If you find yourself in the position where you’re one of the finalists for a coveted public relations job, consider yourself lucky. Luck, however, may not be helpful when you get to the next part of the hiring process: your interview. Even though your resume and cover letter were good enough, your interview skills must be the final piece in the puzzle that helps you get hired. The best piece of advice is to prepare ahead of time by learning about the type of public affairs specialist interview questions and answers that the hiring manager may have in store for you.
In addition to the specific things related to the public relations industry that may be asked, there are also general questions that are asked at most interviews. A hiring manager wants to get an idea of the person you are, your work ethic and your commitment to delivering top results. Here are a few questions and helpful answers to help you get through this important stage.
5 Public Affairs Specialist Interview Questions & Answers
Writing is an important part of a public affairs specialist's job. Tell me about your writing experience.
My background in writing began with my education. In college I earned a degree in journalism with a minor in public relations. In my work experience out of college, I composed many specific writing pieces for organizations, including press releases and media briefings. I also helped my previous organization by writing copy for the company’s website and other internal communication pieces.
Communication skills are key in the public relations industry. Give me an idea about your strengths in communicating.
Written communication is a strength of mine. I am also very skilled in delivering effective communication verbally. In the past I have had to deliver speeches in press conferences, answer questions in media briefings and also deal with high level government officials. I have always been able to communicate clearly and sincerely, no matter who the audience is.
Your ability to conduct research is important in this work. How have your research skills been helpful in your experience?
With my background in journalism, I have always had to rely on conducting research for my writing. Additionally, in the public relations field, I have had to conduct interviews with various officials, find specific data reports and confirm facts for all pieces of writing that were to be released to the public. I have always had a commitment to being accurate so an organization can avoid the embarrassment of releasing something that is untrue.
Social media has increasingly become important in the world. What are your abilities when it comes to social media?
As a child of the digital age, I have grown up with technology. I have always had access to various forms of digital technology including smartphones, tablets and computers. In my personal life, I have several different social media accounts that I update regularly. The familiarity with technology for personal reasons translates to a comfort using all of the platforms for my work. I have been able to successfully maintain various social media accounts through my positions in the past. I have also generated innovative methods of engaging the public through the different features that many of these platforms offer.
Sometimes a crisis may happen in a public affairs specialist's career. Describe a time when you dealt with a crisis.
There have been several times when I have been part of crisis management for a client. One instance that was recent involved a well-known national restaurant chain. What happened was that someone posted pictures of this restaurant chain’s kitchen online through a popular message board. The pictures showed filthy kitchen conditions, bugs, rodents and other things that diners found disgusting. There was a movement by some individuals online to begin a nationwide boycott of the restaurant. First, I investigated the source of the pictures by contacting a close friend associated with the message board’s company. I found out that the person who posted these pictures was a former disgruntled employee who had staged the photos. Then, I went to some of my national print, television and internet media contacts and helped them develop a story exposing the fraud of this individual. I learned that by acting quickly, it’s possible to put a crisis fire out.
Getting hired in public relations requires some tenacity and drive. If you review these popular public affairs specialist interview questions, you may be in a better place to get hired.