Written by the PRSA Oregon Account Team
It’s that time of the year again! Once April rolls around you might find yourself flustered with the twenty tabs of LinkedIn messages and potential internships open on your computer. The pressure to make connections and secure a position for summer or post-grad life continues to build in the communications world. We want to help make the process a little easier, so take this post as your cheat sheet for potential questions to ask or be prepared to answer in an informational or formal interview.

 

Maybe you have not formally applied to any positions yet, but you want to work on making connections with someone who works in a company or career area of your interest. An informational interview is a great place to start. After you’ve connected with someone and scheduled an informational, you may be wondering what questions to ask the person. The ball is largely in your court in this type of interview, so here are some ideas of what you could ask:

 

  • How did your education and career path lead you to this position at this company?
  • What are you most proud of that you do for your job?
  • What is the one thing that you think differentiated you from other applicants?
  • What is the company culture like?
  • Is there anything you dislike about your job?
  • What is one thing you wish you knew when you were in my position that you know now?
  • How do you see this job/company/industry changing in the next ten years?
  • What kind of work samples should I have prepared in my portfolio?
  • What makes ___ different than other companies in this industry?
  • What is something no one would expect about this job?

 

Perhaps you have already done a few informationals and are now working on to applying for internships or jobs. After meticulously searching for the right position, perfecting your application materials and (the scariest part) hitting the submit button. You hear back from the company, and congrats, they want to schedule a formal interview with you! Here are some common questions to be prepared to answer:

 

  • What are a few words to describe yourself?
  • What are your personal strengths/weaknesses?
  • What makes you different from other candidates?
  • What is a difficult situation that you overcame?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?
  • What motivates you?
  • Give an example of a challenge or conflict you have dealt with?
  • How do you deal with stressful situations?

 

Your answers to these questions should not only highlight your achievements and skills but should also reveal the type of person you are. Tell a story with your answer that will draw your interviewer in and put them in your shoes. Employers are not only looking at the skills you have; they are also looking to see how well you would fit into their organization.

 

For whatever type of interaction you may be having with a potential employer, it is crucial that you do your research on the company, and go into the meeting fully prepared of what to ask or answer. Here are a few additional tips that we’ll leave you with:

 

Tips:
  • For informationals, prepare like you are going to a real interview. Clean up your resume, print out work samples, perfect your elevator speech and dress to impress!
  • Be confident and honest
  • If you have questions, ask away! What are the next steps in this interview process? What is the typical career path for someone in this role? What is the culture like at work? What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
  • Do a lot of research about any given company and tailor your resume and answers to interview questions for the specific role.
  • Utilize SOJC faculty and advisors. They are here to help you succeed and can give you a lot of career advice. Meet with them to look over your resume and cover letter, and ask what their interviewing advice is too!

 

Good luck to everyone during this busy internship and job search season. Take some deep breaths and feel confident about what you are capable of. Make every opportunity one that you learn and grow from. Do not feel discouraged if you don’t land an opportunity. It is a part of the process. We cannot wait to see you out there making a positive difference in the world.
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