Public Relations Interview Questions and Answers
Interview questions for public relations (PR) jobs vary depending on specific role 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 to find out about your communication skills for any PR position.
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 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 Facebook pages, sending tweets, managing online communities, and conversing with companies and consumers via social media. If you're interviewing at one of these agencies (or 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.
For agency jobs, you'll 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.
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.
You will also 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.
Other questions will probably be situational interview questions. These 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.
Public Relations Interview Questions
One of the very best ways to feel confident during an interview is to prepare in advance. That way, instead of wracking your brain for relevant anecdotes, you'll have examples of times when you were successfully prepared and ready. Take a look at these common questions, along with some tips and sample responses, to help get ready for your PR interview.
- Why do you love PR?
Tips for responding: 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.").
- What is your ideal work environment? Best answers
Tips for responding: 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.
Tips for responding: 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. For instance, you could say, "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." See more tips for responding to "why should we hire you?
Questions About Public Relations
- When responding to media and public inquiries, what question do you find most difficult to answer?
Tips for answering: 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.
- 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?
Tips for responding: Get a sense for how the industries differ here.
- What does "public relations" mean to you?
Tips for responding: 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.
- Why do companies need public relations?
- What sources of media do you follow regularly, and why those ones?
Tips for responding: 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. For instance, if you're applying to work in celeb-focused PR, you should probably keep up with People magazine.
- 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?
Tips for responding: Make sure to mention characteristics that you possess.
- Do you believe there is a communications crisis right now?
- What do you like about our PR agency?
Tips for answering: You can respond by talking about the agency's culture, its mission, the clients it works with, the agency's overall approach. Be specific if possible.
Questions About Digital PR
- How has social media changed the world of PR?
- How do you use social media to help your clients?
Tips for answering: 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.
- Tell me about a social media campaign you have worked on?
- What are your favorite social media platforms?
Tips for answering: 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. For instance, "Now that Instagram has introduced commerce options, I've been able to help [client name] drive more sales."
- Have you ever had to handle a social media crisis? What did you do?
Behavioral Interview Questions
- Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone to do something at work. How did you achieve this?
- Describe a PR crisis you had. How did you handle it?
Tips for responding: In your answer, you'll want to briefly summarize the situation ("A client's product needed to be recalled."). Then, talk about what you did ("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."). Then, talk about the results ("In the end, since we got ahead of negative press, this wound up being a PR win.
We got positive write-ups in several major media outlets, and perception of the client remains strong."). This is known as the STAR method, and it helps you give a coherent, meaningful response.
- Give me an example of how you creatively solved a problem at work.
- Tell me about a print campaign you have worked on?
- 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?