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Getting the PR Gig: Part 5
By: Mike Bush
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The first four posts in this series aimed to set you up for success in the interview process to ultimately get you the gig. That said, it didn’t address every possible misstep that you might make. This post won’t do that either, but it will offer some cautionary tales from the field…showing things candidates have done to ruin their chances of being hired.

For me personally, I don’t think that i’ve ever completely sabotaged myself in an interview situation (nothing comes to mind, anyway). However, I’ve also been involved in hiring, and have seen candidates go from “Yeah, this would be a great person” to “Nope, who’s next in the interview line?” in a matter of seconds.

Oddly, this particular situation was based on a referral. A former colleague reach out and said he knew someone who might be a great fit for a role I was looking to fill. I immediately bumped the candidate to the top of the list (recommendations go a long, LONG way for me). Within minutes of chatting, the conversation, which started with me asking things like “What are you hoping to accomplish with this job, where do you see it taking you,” had eliminated the person from consideration. I was getting answers like “I just need a job, I don’t really care what it is.”

It was an entry-level gig that I was looking to fill, so I understand some flexibility should be offered (I didn’t know what i wanted to be when I was a kid either). But this complete lack of interest in my company, indifference to whatever the role was (or could be), etc., left me disappointed. It crossed the person off my list of candidates, and made them someone I wouldn't recommend to other PR people looking for junior folks (note: after a while, most people in PR know a lot of other people in PR…and we regularly chat about roles we need to find someone for).

Maybe they thought that because it was referal, it was OK to be more lackadaisical. Either way, it didn’t go so well.

Anyway, I asked around, and got some terrific responses from other people in the field.
 
  • Alex Bar, from Megapolis Movers and Delivery, shared the following: I have interviewed one before who has really great qualifications and she already passed everything. But one thing that made me back off: She talked something bad [about] her previous employer. That is one thing that I hate. Never ever do that. I didn't accepted her to my company.

  • Adam Broetje, CEO at Odd Dog Media, adds: Improper use of their, there, and they're in the email they sent in. We never even bothered to read the cover letter or resume.    

  • Cory Cart, Division Manager, PR for HUB, said: I can’t help it; I have to mention an entry level PR “professional” who asked me to pause the interview so he could respond to his mother’s text. It was clear who was at the center of his world, and it wasn’t our agency — even for a simple 30-minute interview. 
In case you missed them, the first fours posts in this series addressed how to ace the phone interview, tips on surviving a group interview, the best way handle video conferencing interviews, and how to close the deal in an interview with senior leadership. Thanks to everyone who participated!

If you’re on the hunt for a new gig, I hope these were helpful. Best of luck in your search.


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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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