Weâ€™re on a big recruitment drive at the moment, so Iâ€™m interviewing lots of candidates. In general, PR consultants are good at being interviewed â€“ theyâ€™re articulate, organized, current and polished. They are natural presenters and (self-)promoters.
I always say to candidates that an interview is a two way process. For it to be successful both parties must be candid about their capabilities, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. For the right candidates, my agency offers excellent career opportunities, a global perspective and a highly competitive package. But our agency is an ambitious meritocracy full of talented, hard-working, motivated urbanites. Not everyone in public relations wants to be aboard that rollercoaster agency environment. And thatâ€™s fine by me, as long as we agree that in the interview, rather than twelve or twenty-four months down the line.
When it comes to interviews, I believe that no deal is better than a painful break up after a year or so. And so our relationship needs to start on the right footing â€“ one based on a candid discussion during the interview.
Which brings me to a wrong assumption that many PR candidates make. Theyâ€™re great presenters, and thatâ€™s what I meet; a presentation of what they think I want to hear, rather than what they are truly looking for. Itâ€™s the equivalent of the guy in the nightclub claiming to be a daredevil fighter pilot to chat up girls. Sure, it might work, but itâ€™s a short-term strategy. She soon finds out he’s an accountant. And one day, the PR consultant will wake up and admit they donâ€™t like technology or arenâ€™t interested in the media, or find agency life too fast-paced. All those things are fine, just fine, but itâ€™s so much better for both parties to have done that soul-searching and career planning before taking a position, rather than later down the line. Donâ€™t make a career of one night stands.
So my advice to those who are considering a new position during 2005, is to think carefully about the sphere you want to work in, whether agency or in-house is best, and then what type of agency (independent or conglomerate, boutique or behemoth, global or local) fits your style. Then be honest in the interview. The interviewer doesnâ€™t want to see the polished faÃ§ade, they want to meet you.