Part 2 — Intern Talk: A Peek Behind the PR Recruitment Curtain

rsz_picjumbocom_img_5992This is Part II of “Intern Talk: A Peek Behind the PR Recruitment Curtain,” a two-part series for Progressions.

In last week’s “Intern Talk,” Christine Godbey, human resource specialist for Ketchum/Zocalo Group, shared her answers to questions regarding public relations recruiting. This week, she has even more answers to your biggest recruitment questions to help you prepare for your next internship or job interview.

Q: What are your biggest interview pet peeves?

A: I wouldn’t say I have “pet peeves” per se, but I do look out for a couple interview red flags. When a candidate isn’t able to articulate why it is they are interested in the role they applied for or the company, I have concerns. When a recruiter asks why you applied, this is the perfect opportunity to share that you have done your research on the company and the position. It is also a red flag when a candidate doesn’t have any questions for me at the end of an interview. If you are truly interested in the role, you will want to learn more about the company, team, type of work we do, etc., from the recruiter firsthand.

Q: What’s the funniest or most memorable interview experience you ever had?

A: The most memorable interview experience I’ve ever had was with an intern candidate who had researched Ketchum’s new rebranding of “Break Through” before our interview. When I asked her why she was interested in working for Ketchum, she immediately explained how she’s demonstrated “Break Through” ideas in her past internships and projects.

She explained her creative approach to work and offering solutions, and tied this back to the concept of “Break Through.” Not only had this candidate done her research, she dove deep to find out exactly how Ketchum defined “Break Through” and how this aligns with her past experience and approach to her work. It isn’t every day you interview a candidate and feel blown out of the water. This day I did.

Q: What stand-out qualities make interns great full-time employees?

A: Looking back to all of the interns we were fortunate enough to make full-time offers to, I have drawn a couple conclusions about shared qualities. First, interns who really thrive in a public relations agency are curious and hungry to learn. They raise their hand for new projects, connect with teams they may not work with to learn more about how they can help out, and naturally make connections around the office. Not only are these interns cognizant of the importance of making a good impression and fostering teamwork, but they also understand the value of building relationships in an industry that is rooted in building relationships with clients, media, agency partners, etc.

Secondly, interns who move away from treating their work as a checklist of tasks to treating their work as opportunities to think outside the box, challenges to be explored and a small piece of a bigger objective or project excel at Ketchum. Because the work we do is rooted in research, strategy and insights, junior employees who see this bigger picture and approach their work as such make a lasting impression.


“Intern Talk” is a monthly guest column produced by Ellie Boggs, 2013–2014 vice president of career services (follow her on Twitter @ellieboggs). The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.

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