Career 101: Wins & Fails From the Interview Room

Last week, my colleague Jessica Sanderson and I went on a hunt for some awesome intern and entry-level PR talent for our North America offices (New York, San Francisco, Boston and Rochester). We headed to my alma mater Syracuse University (Go Orange!) for the Central New York Communications Consortium (what a mouthful!).  It’s a career […]

Last week, my colleague Jessica Sanderson and I went on a hunt for some awesome intern and entry-level PR talent for our North America offices (New York, San Francisco, Boston and Rochester). We headed to my alma mater Syracuse University (Go Orange!) for the Central New York Communications Consortium (what a mouthful!).  It’s a career […]

Last week, my colleague Jessica Sanderson and I went on a hunt for some awesome intern and entry-level PR talent for our North America offices (New York, San Francisco, Boston and Rochester).

We headed to my alma mater Syracuse University (Go Orange!) for the Central New York Communications Consortium (what a mouthful!).  It’s a career fair sponsored by five of New York’s most competitive communications programs (Colgate University, Cornell University, Ithaca College, LeMoyne College and Syracuse University). Fellow communicators, I definitely encourage you to consider it next year because it’s a great way to meet with some top talent all at once. We had more than 100 applicants – a large majority of which were solid candidates. We had a hard time culling it down, which is a great problem to have.

We all know interviewing can be a total drag, but I find that it has a great way of reminding me what I love about my job (the culture, the great brands we work with and the stellar work we put out). When we find good candidates, it’s so invigorating to see the great people who want to work in PR and with us, and that they are ready to bring their A-game to push communications forward.

Here are some of the awesome (and not-so-awesome) things I’ve been reminded of in the past few weeks.

Some awesome things (#wins):

  • Thank you notes are not dead!  Call me old fashioned, but I’m a real sucker for the thank you note – email or handwritten, or both. We got a few great notes that were really personal, built on conversations from the interview and reminded us of why we loved a candidate.
  • Don’t you love when a candidate does their homework? We had some candidates who must’ve put in some serious man hours to figure out the sweet spot for us. They were able to sell in relevant skills for the job they were applying for, giving relevant examples showing they would fit right in with the work we need. Hiring someone that can jump right in is such a relief.
  • Building off the research portion, a few candidates must’ve scoured PRWeek, Holmes Report, company news and case studies. One of the interviewees even started a discussion about one of our Hypertext blog posts. Her fave was this one from the Shorty Awards (I think your young voice and cheeky wit have served you well again, Kevin!).

Some #FAILs from our interviews (You’ll either be nodding your head that you’ve seen the same or thinking to yourself – holy cow, do people really do that?!):

  • Don’t have your mom call the interviewer. Yes, this happened. Multiple times. I really can’t think of a time when it would be a “plus” for your chances.
  • One applicant said “I need to check with my dad to see if the interview offer is okay.” I totally remember being young and needing a gut check from friends and family on offers, but man, a simple “I need some time to consider” would be fine.
  • Whoa wardrobe malfunction!  A nipple ring showing probably doesn’t say “put me in front of client.” Enough said.
  • I’m sure you’ve seen this one before. We do a lot with social media and applicants regularly include personal blogs and Twitter handles on their resumes. Make sure your social networking profiles are appropriate, people! I can’t tell you how many include a smattering of NSFW content.
  • We had a candidate personally drop off a resume. Nice touch. However, he was applying to two agencies within a block of each other, and thought he was at the other agency, and was gushing about their awesome work. Ouch.
  • It’s totally fine to peruse our social networking profiles before you apply or come for an interview. It’s a nice way to assess the personality of a company. However, do not send follow up notes via Facebook messages to half of the office, hoping to get a reply. This “spray and pray” method, especially on our personal Facebook accounts, is not the most effective way to get in touch.

Do you have any other horror stories or best practices to share from your interview experiences?

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