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Getting the PR Gig: Part 2
By: Mike Bush
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In the first part of the “Getting the Gig” series, we asked marketing and PR professionals for their best advice for getting through the first round of interviews, and moving beyond the call screening. This part assumes you’ve taken our advice and made it through the screener, and are now set up for a group (or panel style) interview.

Group interviews are tough. Like, really tough. There can be a weird sort of “stranger in a strange land vibe,” since everyone you’re talking to already knows each other and works together. It’s sort of like trying to find a clique on your first day in a new high school. Only it determines your salary.

However, these interviews can be tamed, and even mastered.

For me, the most important thing to realize is that these briefings are a window into the work habits of the team you’re hoping to join. You’re getting an idea of life on the inside, and putting your best foot forward is actually a matter of being your “work self.” If you’re the light-hearted joke-teller in your typical office day, be that way in the group interview. If your style is to be someone who takes a few seconds to internalize a discussion before responding, explain that in the up front (when asked to tell the group about yourself). It’s much easier to say “I try to think things through for a second before coming to a conclusion,” and then doing so for an entire interview than it is to jump far out of your comfort zone in an effort to please.

Asking around the interwebs, here are more pieces of advice I received for making it through the group interview: 
  • Brian Metcalf, CEO of GreenRoom, said: Employers understand that panel-style interviews can be intimidating for the candidate, but they’re instrumental in helping hiring managers reduce the risk of hiring someone who isn’t going to be a good fit. If the candidate has made it to the group interview stage, we have confidence in their ability to execute and now want to see if they demonstrate the confidence and executive presence necessary for remarkable client relations. Try to cast aside any nerves and have command of the room. If you’ve made it this far, the people in the room want you to succeed.  

  • Lori Freese from Freese Media Group, shared: ...Before any interview, research the history of the company for which you are interviewing AND their competitors. Be ready for what has worked for them in the past and what hasn't. What could possibly work in the future along with what can be added to what has worked in the past. How can you add to and build upon that? Knowing the brand, the history, and the competition is super impressive.

  • And Maggie Thill, from Fonality, added the following: I love panel interviews as both hiring manager and candidate! Don’t look it as surviving, first of all. Think about what a great opportunity a panel-style interview is to get a sense of the culture, the people you’d be working with, what you’d be doing, and even red flags. You can learn so much from the behavioral questions each person asks. Plus, a panel may be your ticket to avoiding multiple interview rounds. If applying for a job at my current company, I’d also suggest requesting a time slot around 3 p.m. on any given Wednesday. Your panel interview will be interrupted by the snack wagon. It’s hard for the panel interviewers to be too rough on you while yelling “Wagon!,” and we’ll probably invite you to take a selection home. Joking aside, one last tip. Angle for a time when you know you’re at your best.

So, there it is. Making it through group interviews is as simple as doing your homework, being yourself and realizing that the people in the room want you to succeed.

And scheduling around the free food.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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