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5 Essential Public Affairs Specialist Interview Tips


You’ve worked hard to build your resume and develop the job skills needed to take on the challenge of a new position. Now that you have your foot in the door, it’s time to prepare for the all-important, face-to-face interview. Hiring managers use the interview process to learn more about you, not just the you presented in your resume through your education and experience—though that can be just as important—but the professional persona you present to the world. The interview is your time to shine, to make yourself stand out as a candidate and to convince your prospective employer that you’re perfect for the position.

If you’ve been asked to interview, the hiring manager already knows you’re qualified. Now is your chance to show them that you’re not only competent but will go above and beyond to represent your company. Always abide by general best interview practices to make a strong first impression, and then back them up by following these public affairs specialist interview tips.

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Public Affairs Specialist Interview Tips

Show That You’re a People Person: In your interview, you want to present not only what kind of employee you’ll be for your new company, but also what kind of representative you’ll be for your employer when dealing with clients and the public. Demonstrate to your prospective employer that you are self-confident and have an outgoing personality that will represent the company well in any situation. Come in with a smile, make eye contact, and speak clearly. This is one of the most important public affairs specialist interview tips because you’ll be expected to speak for the company and its interests to a variety of people and in a variety of contexts. Demonstrating that you are a confident speaker who loves talking with people will take your interview in the right direction.

Highlight Your Communication Skills: This tip dovetails off the last because, as a public affairs specialist, you’ll be doing much more than dealing with people face to face. You’ll also be required to prepare press releases, create visual presentations, write proposals and put annual reports in order. That means you need to show your prospective employer that you can write well and use visual communication effectively, as well as prove your public speaking ability. Tell your prospective employer about any past reports you’ve prepared or presentations you’ve given. It might also be a good idea to bring along a portfolio of your more visually appealing work to show your employer how serious you are about effective communication.

Demonstrate Good Judgment: Demonstrating good judgment can be viewed as taking the people skills you’ve already read about to the next level. A public affairs specialist needs to be able to read people and respond appropriately in a variety of situations. Show you can do more than present a thoughtful presentation: you can make people trust you, and by extension the company you represent, and alleviate tense situations with grace. Don’t be afraid to talk about times you’ve been put in difficult circumstances and share how you’ve handled yourself.

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Dress for Success: This may seem a bit obvious for a list of public affairs specialist interview tips, but dressing appropriately for the industry can go a long way to show your prospective employer that you’re the right person for the job. If you’re applying for a position with a high-powered law firm or a government agency, you probably want to dress in a very professional and conservative manner, with dark or neutral tones that speak to the seriousness of the business you’ll be engaged in. If your interview is with a tech outfit or a nonprofit firm that works with children, for example, it’s a good idea to soften your look to match that of the other people you’ll be working with and the way that company presents itself to the public.

Ask About Opportunities for Improvement: Show your prospective employer that you’re willing to take the initiative to expand your duties by suggesting ways you could take your position out of the office and into the world. If you’ve organized any public functions or hosted corporate events, mention those things to show your prospective employer you can do more than the bare minimum and are ready to work hard to advance yourself in the company.

Following these tips will help you put your best foot forward in the interview and increase your chances of rising to the top of the candidate pool and landing the job.