Interviewing at the Speed of Success

I’ve never tried speed dating but I did try my hand at speed interviewing.

Fortunately, I had the easy role, which was that of interviewer.

The idea originated with students with Virginia Commonwealth University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. It was an opportunity to “give students exposure to PR professionals and the interviewing process,” said Carol Mawyer, assistant director for student services and scholastic journalism at VCU.

“I hope our students learn how to present themselves confidently and professionally when provide with a limited window of time so that the next time they are at a networking event, they can approach it as if it’s a speed interview,” Carol said.

Although many of the students had never experienced a professional interview, it was hard to tell. Despite the hour of the day (5 p.m.), each one came dressed professionally with a resume and put their best foot forward. I thought back to my early days of interviewing and wondered if I came across as polished as these students did.

Of course, those of us conducting the five-minute interviews couldn’t resist offering some critiques.

Many of the students said they wanted to enter PR because they were people persons. We explained that PR is more than being a people person. We talked about creativity, writing, goals and research. And we pointed out it’s more than graphics or social media, which seemed to be the hot areas of interest.

My favorite question to ask is “Why should I hire you?” Quite simply, it’s the elevator speech we’re all taught we should have on hand. Based on their answers, most of these students are ready for the real world.

How ready are you?