Journalism is a creative job. Working as a reporter can be demanding because of time constraints and the challenges of interviews. For journalists, an interview with a publication is also a chance to showcase pertinent skills, including solid research, interviewing and reporting skills. Using the interview to demonstrate these skills can set you apart from other applicants.
Journalism interviews differ from conventional interviews. More often than not, journalism interviews are more conversational in nature. They are full of free exchanges of information and ideas, and intensive discussions about the current events around the world.
Journalism interviews purposely eliminate the formal question-answer session as in traditional interviewing. It does include questions but they are more discussion oriented. Such discussions try to bring out the expertise and underline the areas of interest of the applicant more expertly than mere questioning.
Tips for journalism interview:
1. To do well during the interview, prepare by researching the publication, making a list of relevant questions and preparing a portfolio of writing clips to bring to the interview. Spend some time on the company’s website or pick up some recent editions to gain a deeper understanding about the publication’s voice, audience and key issues. Learn about the community the publication serves and who you will be writing about.
2. Doing research prior to reporting is an important part of being a journalist. Demonstrating your research skills during the interview will exhibit your journalistic qualities.
3. Treat the interviewee with respect. A warm but not over enthusiastic greeting is a good start.
4. Introduce yourself and explain what you are doing and for whom. Ask the source’s name and title and make sure you have the correct spelling. Misspelling a name is an offense worthy of firing at some publications, and may earn you a failing grade if you are a student.
5. Maintain eye contact, be friendly and avoid yes-or-no questions. Also, to keep from influencing a source’s answer, avoid asking biased questions. Let your face be relaxed and your body’s position convey interest.
6. Listening to what the other person is saying is only half the story. Look at his/her mannerisms, listen to the volume and steadiness of the person’s voice, notice how he/she has dressed and groomed himself/herself, and notice details of the surroundings.
7. Even if you sent writing clips and samples to the hiring editor with your resume, it is important to bring additional copies to your interview. If the editor does not have your writing samples or resume at hand, bringing copies will show you are prepared. It is an industry standard to bring clips and samples to a journalism interview.
8. Look over a news story that you particularly admire. Think of the specific and the general questions that the journalist had to ask in order to get that information. Try to think of what a logical order of those questions would be. Model your own interviews on the insights you collect from this.
9. Decent recording kit is essential. You may be a expert at shorthand, but a digital backup is proof that the quotes you’ve used. There are also some really useful pieces of software that record internet phone conversations. Whichever recording devices you decide on, make sure that you know how to use them, and charge them fully before an interview.
10. Plan the questions you’d like to ask beforehand and print them out in the order you would like to ask them. Open-ended questions will encourage in-depth answers as opposed to short yes/no replies. If you have a time limit, prioritise your questions accordingly.
11. At the end of the interview, no matter how difficult the interviewee has been, always say thank you.