There’s nothing like a strong outlook and confidence to get you through that first interview with a professional. You might be wearing a pressed suit, have an extra copy of your résumé, and a positive attitude, but those are only a few of the components you need to make a good first impression on your prospective boss.
Do your research. If you’re going into a Public Relations firm, do your research on their accounts. Knowing a little client history doesn’t hurt. If you’re working in-house, the same rules apply – look at the company website, Facebook page and social media outlets, Google the company and see what articles come up. Know them, because the interviewer might ask you if you’ve even looked at their page, but knowing something, or commenting on an article you read or a publication they released, let’s them know that you’re genuinely interested in joining their team.
Dress appropriately. Establish yourself as a serious, professional Public Relations pre-professional by dressing appropriately. Gentlemen, slacks and a nicely ironed shirt, and ladies, a dress or skirt, or pants with a crisp shirt goes a long way. Present yourself as you would your work: clean, thought out, and free of anything that might be misinterpreted. Because remember from an earlier post, you are what you wear.
Have a strong handshake. This is a sign of the type of person you might be. There are seminars, and even classes, on how to perform the proper handshake, and though they are primarily business/MBA targeted classes, they apply to any sort of professional. PR is a business. Rules apply. Be firm, not harsh, and let your interviewer know you’re confident.
Make eye contact. Everything from fear to confidence is shown through your eyes. Don’t waver. Don’t stare them down either. When you’re addressing them, look them in the eyes. Accompany this with a strong voice, and you’ll have made a great first impression.
Breathe. Stopping to think before you answer a question or make a comment does not mean that you do not know what you’re talking about. If you need time to collect your thoughts before you address your interviewer, do so. Pause. You are communicating, and like every conversation, you need to breathe. Truly converse, because as formal as you believe the situation might be, at the end of the day, you’re communicating a love for PR, and most importantly, why you are the ideal candidate for the position. So relax. Be confident. But relax.
First impressions can make or break you. Your employer is aware that yes, you might be nervous, but they definitely expect you to carry yourself with your head held high. So prepare before hand, and throughout the course of the first meeting, whether it’s an interview or a conference or any other instance where you’re encountering a future employer for the first time, remember that you can do it. Be confident, and you’ll be successful.