Public Relations Interview Questions and Answers
Interview questions for public relations (PR) jobs vary depending on specific roles and whether you're seeking a job in traditional or digital PR. Some questions, of course, will come up with any public relations position. Interviewers will be eager, for example, to learn about your communication skills for any PR position to which you apply.
Get tips on how to prepare for your interview and more information on the differences between digital and traditional PR. Plus, review a list of common questions asked during interviews for PR positions.
Types of Public Relations Job Interview Questions
Are you interviewing with a traditional PR agency or a digital one? If you're applying for a job at a traditional agency, be prepared to answer questions about your writing skills, press relationships, previous press campaigns you've worked on, and where you see PR going in the future.
At a digital PR agency, the duties typically include operating social media channels, sending tweets, managing online communities, and conversing with companies and consumers via social media.
For agency jobs, you'll also get questions about the particular agency and the client they work with. Don't forget to research the agency in advance of your interview.
If you are interviewing to do public relations work for a company, your interviewer might focus on trying to understand how you will craft and execute an effective public relations strategy.
Common Public Relations Interview Questions & Answers
During any interview for a PR job, you can expect to be asked a number of common interview questions, which allow interviewers to learn about your skills and experience, along with getting a sense of how you'll fit in with the company's culture. Some of these will be personal questions that solicit your opinion about your career.
1. Why do you love PR?
What They Want to Know: This question gauges your enthusiasm for your career field. Give an honest response about what appeals to you about the position. The best answers will connect your passion for PR with the company's mission. Avoid answers focused on yourself (e.g., "I love going to client events and drinking cocktails for free.").
I love PR because it allows me to forward the mission, products, and services of companies I believe in. It’s a thrill to be able to use my word-crafting skills to generate great publicity for worthy causes.
More Answers: Tell me about yourself.
2. What is your ideal work environment?
What They Want to Know: Here's where your research on the agency or company will pay off! If the company is known for a fast-paced environment, you can mention that you work best when busy and are the kind of person who's always on email.
I like stimulating work environments, where there are always new fires to put out and problems to solve. My favorite employers have had a company culture that empathized continuous improvement. This was inspiring because it was impossible to ever be bored – there were always new ways to improve one’s skills.
More Answers: Do you work well on a team?
3. Why should we hire you?
What They Want to Know: This question is an opportunity for you to make your case for yourself as a candidate. You can talk about your qualities (hard worker, skilled communicator), but try to provide evidence of how you've been an asset in previous positions. See more tips for responding to, "Why should we hire you?”
I'm a skilled communicator and passionate about helping my clients get a positive media reception. In my position at ABC agency, I was able to increase [client name's] mentions in the press 30% from one quarter to the next.
More Answers: Describe yourself in three words.
Questions About Public Relations
Be prepared to demonstrate your practical knowledge of public relations, communications technologies, agency structures, and client relations. Your answers should be tailored to demonstrate how your public relations expertise would be a tremendous asset to the employer.
Use your answers to redirect the conversation to the agency's culture, its mission, the clients it works with, and its overall approach to public relations. Be specific in describing how your own approach aligns with theirs.
4. When responding to media and public inquiries, what question do you find most difficult to answer?
What They Want to Know: This question evaluates how well you can “think on your feet.” Be honest in your response. If you say you do not find any questions difficult to answer, it can seem like you're prevaricating. But be strategic: do not mention a question that you're likely to receive regularly in this role.
I don’t like questions from hot-heads that seek only to criticize our organization. I try to defuse these with wry humor, accompanied by hard facts that forcefully refute the criticism.
More Answers: How do you handle stress and pressure?
5. What does “public relations” mean to you?
What They Want to Know: Since there are many types of public relations work, from managing social campaigns to promoting celebrities to crisis management, it makes sense for your answer to acknowledge that there are a lot of types of PR work. Then, you can pivot to talking about the one you're most experienced in, and connect it back to the company or agency that you're interviewing with. Get a sense for how the industries differ here.
While I’m well-versed in most types of PR, my favorite vehicle for building relationships with the public is social media. Studies have shown that younger, technology-savvy generations are most attracted by engagement marketing – and social media is a powerful tool for maintaining dialogues with one’s public base.
More Answers: What motivates you?
6. What sources of media do you follow regularly, and why those ones?
What They Want to Know: As well as general PR news outlets and social media feeds, it makes sense to mention media sources in your area of expertise or the agency's focus.
Since my work is focused on celebrity publicity, I’m the first to read new issues of People magazine.
More Answers: How are you different from your competition?
Questions About Digital PR
If you're interviewing for a digital PR job, be ready to answer questions about your experience with SEO, content creation, channels, audience interaction, and social media crisis management.
7. Why do you use social media to help your clients?
What They Want to Know: Share an example that puts you in a good light. Remember, numbers can always be a meaningful way to tell a story. If you helped a client gain followers, share the before-and-after numbers, for instance.
I find social media to be the best way to help newly-launched companies build a client base. This particularly works for organizations like restaurants – I helped one client build a Facebook following from zero to 600 followers within the first week of the page launch, and this translated into immediate customer lines at his store.
More Answers: What applicable experience do you have?
8. What are your favorite social media platforms?
What They Want to Know: There's no wrong answer here, but it's likely best to avoid being negative about any platform. Frame your answer not around your own interactions with the platform personally, but around how it's beneficial to clients.
Now that Instagram has introduced commerce options, I've been able to help [client name] drive more sales.
More Answers: Tell me about the trends in your profession and industry.
9. Describe a social media crisis you had. How did you handle it?
What They Want to Know: In your answer, you'll want to briefly summarize the situation. Then, talk about what you did. Finally, talk about the results. This is known as the STAR method, and it helps you give a coherent, meaningful response.
A client’s product needed to be recalled. We had a strategy on hand for this kind of situation, which we modified to fit the circumstances. We had a conference call with the client, who was initially reluctant to make statements online. We explained why that was a mistake, using case studies from recalls done by similar companies. In the ends, since we got ahead of negative press this wound up being a PR win.
More Answers: What have you learned from your mistakes?
Additional Questions About Public Relations
Other common questions about public relations a hiring manager might ask could include:
- What are the advantages of an in-house public relations department?
- What are the disadvantages of hiring a public relations firm?
- What's the difference between public relations and advertising?
- Why do companies need public relations?
- How do you measure the results of a PR campaign?
- Why are exhibitions at trade shows popular?
- In what direction do you see the public relations industry heading?
- What personality characteristics are most important to be successful in public relations?
- Do you believe there is a communications crisis right now?
- What do you like about our PR agency?
Tips for Acing a Public Relations Interview
Do your homework. Research the agency you’re interviewing with, their clients, and their history of success in the industry so that you will be able to focus your conversation on their needs and demonstrate how you would be a collegial, dedicated, and productive contributor to their organization.
Share your achievements. Before you go into the interview, make a list of your most successful public relations accomplishments and projects and how you have helped to meet a client’s goals. Be ready to support these achievements with quantifiable statistics like percentages, numbers, or dollar figures.
Be prepared for behavioral interview questions. You will likely be asked a number of behavioral interview questions about how you’ve handled certain work situations in the past. For example, you might be asked how you have dealt with a social media crisis or a client getting poor press. The idea behind these questions is that how you responded and tackled a situation in the past will give the interviewer insight into how you might behave on the job. Here are a few examples:
- Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone to do something at work. How did you achieve this?
- Give me an example of how you creatively solved a problem at work.
- Tell me about a print campaign you have worked on?
Prepare for situational interview questions. Situational interview questions are similar to behavioral interview questions, as they are questions about work experiences. However, situational interview questions are about how you would handle future situations rather than past situations. For example, an interviewer might ask how you would interact with the press in a given situation. Other examples include:
- How would you communicate with a reporter?
- What would you do if you disagreed with a client about strategy?
- Describe how you might put together a pitch for one of our clients.
- How would you balance advocacy and objectivity in PR?
How to Ace the Interview
REVIEW COMMON PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Understand the difference between traditional and digital public relations agencies, and be ready to answer questions appropriate to either one (depending upon which type you are targeting).
RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER: Learn as much as you can about the hiring agency before the interview, including its history in the industry, its major clients, and its key PR successes.
KNOW YOUR NUTS AND BOLTS: Be ready to discuss how you would structure a public relations strategy, communicate with clients, and manage a traditional or digital campaign.