Task and Final Meetings
For communications roles, the interview process will typically include a task designed to further assess your skills. This can be administered at different points, though we typically see it coming near the end of a process. That said, the writing test is extremely important and we have seen it make, and break, the deal.
You Know How to Do This.
Try not to let performance anxiety overwhelm you and remember that the task is an opportunity for you to do what you do well. There is some amount of preparation to be done in advance of the exercise, but you will be relying mainly on hard skills you already have to execute the task. In some cases, you may get a sense of what to expect from a recruiter, though sometimes we don’t have any details. Regardless, stay up on the company’s news and pay attention to the language on their website and marketing materials. Having a good sense of their voice will help you as you craft the assigned messaging.
What’s the Assignment?
The task could be anything from crafting a simple news release to complex Op-Eds or letters to an editor that require both fact and opinion. Of course, for an internal role, it is likely you will be assigned letters to employees or talking points for a town hall meeting. We see about a 50/50 split of tasks that are assigned to be completed onsite versus those to be done at home, but in almost all cases there is a given time frame.
Proof It. Then Proof It Again.
Accuracy remains important regardless of circumstance, though onsite assignments are mainly geared towards getting a sense of your ability to create simple, effective messaging in a short period of time. If you are working from home, the expectation is that you have put a great deal of thought into the work and it should be absolutely typo-free, clear and refined. In this case, it’s ok (and advisable) to ask a trusted source to proof your work before you submit it.
Don’t Miss the Point.
Be sure you understand what is being asked of you. Follow the length guidelines and don’t lose sight of the essential question or prompt. While it’s okay to be creative, make sure you execute the assignment. The ability to deliver crisp messaging to a range of audiences is essential and most of our clients name strong writing skills one of the key requirements for the position.
One More Meeting.
As with every other step of the process, the nature of the final meeting varies. Sometimes this last conversation is reserved for the most senior person on the roster. If everyone else has vetted and approved you, it may be almost a formality. Yet in other cases, especially if this is someone you are supposed to write for, this meeting may hold a lot of weight. Either way, it is a final gut check for you and your new boss. At this point, there is a mutual awareness that both parties feel positively about the possibility of you in this role and that includes you. In advance of the meeting, don’t be afraid to ask your point of contact where you stand, if there are other finalists, etc. If you still have questions that will affect your decision, this is the time to get them answered. You can ask to see a hiring manager if you are only slated to meet with someone in the C suite.
At this meeting or in the days (and sometimes weeks) to follow, a job offer may be extended. Congratulations! You’ve come a long way, and proven how much you have to offer. Hopefully, the organization has shown you the same thing.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.