Which is more Important: You on Paper, or You in Person?

A couple weeks ago I had my first interview for a hopeful internship.  I will not name the company of which I was hoping to become a part, I will just say that after what I thought was a wonderful interview, I did not receive the position.  This made me wonder, “How much control over an interview does one really have?”  You can dress the part, practice the correct manners, do your research, turn on the charm, and yet still, no offer?  Conceited as this will sound, but after not receiving the interview, I chose to blame every aspect and person but myself.  It made ask the question, “Which is more important: how you look on paper, or how you are in real life?”

Thinking back to the interview, as I did my best to look the part from my hair down to my heel height, I realized that while I feel confident as an “in person” person, I am not quite as confident as an “on paper” person.  Is one or the other more important?  Are they both equally important? Or, do certain people value one or the other differently?  I started thinking, perhaps my interviewer was more into the on paper aspects of a candidate as opposed to the in person aspects.  As public relations professionals, should one or the other be more valuable?

I choose to stay on the side of in person importance.  After what seemed to me to be a flawless interview (p.s. if you haven’t yet sensed my bitterness on my failed internship offer, sense it now), I have come to the realization that no amount of charm can make up for a lack of experience, and vice versa.  Both experience and personality are important aspects of the ideal public relations professional.  As a young adult just starting to crack into the world of public relations, I am learning to focus more on my weakness (my “on paper” self) and stop focusing on what I already feel more confident in (my “in person” self).  I suppose that until I nab that first internship, I will have to hope that my next interviewer is an “in person” person… until then, I’m screwed.


~ by emily074 on December 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Which is more Important: You on Paper, or You in Person?”

  1. Every time I apply to an internship or job, I think the same thing; what I lack on paper I’ll make up for in person! Sometimes it has worked and other times I have never even made it past the paper part. But one thing you didn’t mention that I always think about are phone interviews. Love them or hate them? I recently had one and panicked because I thought “I’m not as charming on the phone!” They lie in a whole different category because you have to rely solely on your answers (and jokes) and do not have the perfect outfit or lovely smile to fall back on. I think it essential to practice good phone skills since a phone interview may be a make or break deal for any job.

  2. I think both are definitely important. But trust me when I say I know how you feel. Landing a first internship was a lot harder then I ever thought it was going to be. Literally every internship description calls for “Previous Internship Experience Required” or “Past agency experience preferred,” etc. And that’s just the description! If you are able to land an interview (which is obviously based on your “paper-self”) then you really do have to show them that you are the right candidate for the job. That’s quite a task to take on in a 20-minute interview. As frustrating as it seems, a company will see your potential. Once you land your first internship, I promise, it only gets easier. (**Disclaimer–Easier is not to be confused with easy!)

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