Companies always have a message which they try to convey to the world. Talking about the value they create, expressing how much they care about each and every employee, and introducing amazing products to the market.

The content of the message is often far from truth, or, said more precisely, it doesn’t reveal the entire truth. It is marketing, image, it is something they want people to believe into. And eventually most of them will believe it.

This will be your role as a Communications Manager: To hold the truth, to twist it a little, and to create compelling messages for all kinds of audiences, starting from employees and ending with local (or even international) media.

Hiring managers will try to understand whether you have this ability with a set of targeted questions. They may also test you with a practical case study. And now I will show you how to deal with these challenges in your interview, and walk away with a new job contract. Enjoy!

Communication skills are tested from the first moment

Before analyzing the questions, I want you to understand something: From the first look you give them and the first handshake, the hiring managers observe your verbal and non-verbal communication.

It is crucial to talk with enthusiasm, to keep an eye contact, to talk to the point (answer exactly what they inquire about), to react promptly to the questions, to ask questions.

You will need all these skills as a communications manager, and unless you demonstrate them with your conduct in an interview, even the best interview answers won’t save you, and they will send you home. So ensure you will do this right.

Let’s have a look at the questions.

Communications manager talks to an employee

Why do you want to work as a communications manager?

Becasue it’s an amazing position, it pays well, and it allows you to meet all kinds of interesting people. And you can have an impact on the entire organization in this role.

These are likely the real reasons for your job application--or perhaps you do not even know why you want the job, and applied for it just like you did for many other offers, trying your luck…

However, you should point to different reasons in your interview. Say that you believe to be an excellent writer and speaker. Say that you believe to understand all kinds of audiences, and know how to present the truth to them in the most appropriate way, one that will create a right image of an organization.

Said in other words, show the value you can bring to your employer on this position, and mark it as a primary reason for your job choice. Then you can add also secondary reasons.

 

How do you imagine a typical day in work?

It is crucial to show proactive approach to work. Best communications managers do not wait in their comfy office for another manager or executive to tell them what they should write about, or talk about.

They walk around the company, talk to people from all departments, they try to observe the daily life in the company, and anything worthy of publication or presentation. They also spy on competition, and their PR, trying to learn valuable lessons.

And they also manage social media accounts, and internal communication channels, and they try to come up with new ideas. They may even respond for news on company website, and for communication with print media representatives. Mention all these duties in your answer, and ensure the hiring managers that you won’t just passively wait for an order from someone in the company to craft a piece of writing.

 

What sort of message/company image would you try to convey with your communication to the public?

The right answer depends on the type of organization, and also the field of business they operate it. For example, a communications manager working for a smaller IT company will typically try to convey the message of innovation, security, user-oriented product releases, and trust.

Someone working for a retail store chain will try to express responsibility, quality, and affordable prices. Or perhaps ecological production/operation of the stores, if that’s what the company tries to achieve (or pretends that they try to achieve it).

You should spend some time on the website of the corporation, and read something about their values and goals, their mission statement. This should help you to understand better what they try to say to the general public.

 

Imagine that an employee died in a production hall. It was their mistake, they didn’t respect the regulations and safety rules. What would you say to the media representatives who assembled in your office with their cameras?

This is an extremely tricky situation, and you should show some tact and logic in your answer. A good start is expressing the deepest regret of everyone involved, and saying that anything you could say or do would not bring back a precious life of a human being, your former colleague and friend.

Then you can go on, citing what happened, and clearly clarifying what the dead man did wrong, how they did not obey the rules and why exactly the accident happened.

You can end your message saying that the company will take additional measures, and improve the initial orientation as well as constant supervision of the obedience to the rules, to ensure the same thing won’t ever happen again.

Stress that you would use the right tone of voice and wear the right facial expression when delivering the message…

man talks to media representatives

You have probably checked our social media channels. What can we improve in our communication through these media channels?

There is always at least some room for improvement. Perhaps they can post something more often (or less frequently :)), perhaps their messages aren’t targeted enough, or do not correspond to the audience on the particular media. Or they do not induce engagement, the communication is very one-sided, etc.

Actually I would have to see their channels to give you the exact answer, but I think you have at least a good idea now. Remember that if they were satisfied with their entire communication and would not want to change anything, they would not look for a new communications manager. You should always suggest some improvements…

 

Other questions you may face in your communications manager interview

  • What do you want to achieve in our company, while responding for both internal and external communication?
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
  • Here is a new product (they show you a product, or a picture of it). Write a short press release to announce it to the public.
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making this decision affect you?
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career as a manager.
  • If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you will do in work?
  • Do you have any questions?

 

Summary and next steps

Communications Manager in a popular job title, and you may face a stern competition in your interview. This makes the experience more difficult for everyone, including the interviewers.

Try to prepare for the questions I have just shown you. And if you are not sure how to deal with the behavioral questions, check out my Interview Success Package, so I can show you how to answer every difficult question.

And most importantly, remember that your non-verbal communication matters. Show motivation, enthusiasm, talk to the point, and express yourself in a way that everyone clearly understands. This is equally important than your interview answers…

I wish you good luck!

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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