(L-R): Kari Veno (Halton Health Care), Kendra Nicholson (Steam Whistle Brewing), Alison Burke (Impressions PR), Nathan Mallett (Sheridan PRCC coordinator), Michelle Titus (Environics PR) Janelle Eade (Joseph Brant Hospital) and Liz Luzza (Praxis PR) pose for a photograph after a panel discussion at Sheridan College. Missing: Sgt. Barry Malciw (Halton Police) and Christine Szustaczek (Sheridan College)

[By Nikk Kadbet]

Last week, bouts of nerves, anticipation and excitement for Sheridan PRCC students’ mock interviews were complemented by insightful interviews tips from a panel of industry professionals.

Public Relations professionals from Environics Communications, Halton Health Care, Halton Police, Impressions PR, Joseph Brant Hospital, Praxis PR, Sheridan College and Steam Whistle Brewing gave students personal and overall feedback they are unlikely to receive elsewhere. Part one of the event’s key takeaways can be read here. Without further ado, here’s part two:

Cover Letter Blues
For most organizations, cover letters, not résumés, are the first points of interaction in the hiring process. Avoid clichés and generalizations wherever possible. If you’re applying to a smaller company, use anecdotes and examples from different jobs to highlight the skills that differentiate you. Self-proclaimed “fairy beer mother”, Kendra Nicholson of Steam Whistle Brewing believes a cover letter must be tailored to the culture of your company. She says, “After all, it’s what gets you through the door.” Janelle Eade of Joseph Brant Hospital adds, “If you have design skills, find every opportunity to highlight them. It is a huge benefit if you come to the industry with content creation skills. We’re looking for that.”

Embrace Silence
Do not be afraid to take a moment to fully understand the question and deliver the best response possible. Candidates often reply with the first response they think of, in order to avoid what they perceive as an “awkward silence”. Avoid this at all costs. Michelle Titus of Environics PR says, “It shows that you have the confidence to take a break and really think about the answer you’re going to give. You want the job so you really should take the moment to give the best answer you possibly can.” Embracing the silence presents the opportunity to answer the question precisely and helps you stay on topic.

Flipping the Script
At the end of your interview, do not pass up the opportunity to take control and ask the interviewer a question or two. While a question like “What’s a day on the job like?” fits the bill, ask a thoughtful and interesting question that you think the interviewer has never heard before. By doing so, you leave an impression on the interviewer. According to Kari Veno of Halton Health Care, choosing not to ask a question can be perceived as disinterest and could potentially leave a bad taste in an interviewer’s mouth; the last thing any candidate wishes to do.

With internship season around the corner, using these industry insights can be the catalyst for landing a dream position. On behalf of the students, a massive thank-you to these eight industry professionals for taking the time to help us get a dose of reality. Your feedback, tips and advice are greatly appreciated!

(Photo by Nikk Kadbet)