When I was first interviewing for internships and my first job, my BIGGEST fear was how to answer a question in an interview I didn’t know the answer to or couldn’t respond eloquently to. I was worried my experience wouldn’t be enough, or I wouldn’t share my most important and valuable qualities, or I would completely trip up and babble on without making sense.
This is a pretty common fear with all young professionals, but when you get into PR you quickly learn that this fear is pretty much an every day reality. Clients and team members ask the hard questions all day long – and it’s our job to handle them. I had to get over any nervousness I felt with hardball questions if I wanted to stay afloat, and now I can “PR” my answers with the best of them.
If you're headed out to interview of a new job or internship, here are a couple things in mind when you're thrown an "out of left field" type question from a client or potential colleague:
- Breathe - The question is not meant to be an attack, so don't take any hard questions personally. If you're in an interview, the employer may want to see how you do under pressure. If it's a client, they're looking for the truth and your help in leading them through the dark
- Never lie - While a white lie or a fib might feel easy to get out of a tough spot ("Oh I ABSOLUTELY rubbed shoulders with media while working backstage at Fashion Week" is not the same as "Assisted team with logistics for large events"), avoid telling a non-truth or overexaggerating
- Do brag - This is potentially what felt the oddest to me. Don't feel about talking about how amazing an experience was, how you succeeded, or past examples of how you handled a problem. It might feel like you're being a braggart, but you're really offering valuable real-life experience to the table
- But be humble - Speak to key learnings and how you can do better for next time. It's okay to admit defeat if you came out of it with the right mind set
- Clear voice - and smile! - Don't be afraid of the question, it's a natural part of conversation and team work. You got this.