Five ways for journalists to ace job interviews

by David Brewer
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

An interview for a job in the media is often the culmination of weeks of hard work searching for opportunities, filling out application forms and waiting - so it's important to make the best impression on the day.

You must prepare well, know about the competition, present yourself professionally and answer the questions you are asked.

The following tips are offered by media professionals who’ve had experience sitting on the other side of the interview table. Some tips were also offered in a discussion on the Media Helping Media LinkedIn Group.

Familiarize yourself with the output

Bob Doran, media strategy consultant and trainer, says you must prepare for your interview.

"Make sure you're familiar with the program, station, newspaper or website concerned. Listen to, watch or read it regularly in the run-up to the interview, or at least check it out on the Internet. As a program editor interviewing applicants, I was amazed at how many said, 'I don't actually listen to the program.' They never got very far. I reckoned that if they weren't familiar with the program, they wouldn't be very good at working for it. And, most importantly, if they weren't smart enough to realize that knowledge of the program would help them at the interview, they weren't smart enough to work for it."

Media awareness

Make sure you know all about the strengths and weaknesses of your prospective employer's main competition. You will have to have a good knowledge of the local media scene. Those on the other side of the interview table will be aware of the threats and opportunities they face and they will expect you to have some understanding of where they are succeeding and where they are falling behind.

They will expect you to know what they are up against. Try to show where you can help your future employer establish a content differential and challenge the competition.

Offer exciting ideas

You need to come out with some great, well thought-through ideas including the necessary production elements. You should always arrive at a job interview with at least three well thought-through story ideas. You will probably be asked what stories you would cover if you were working in the newsroom. That is not the time to stare at your hands and mumble.

Don't be worried about them picking up your ideas and running with them; it's a gamble you need to take and part of the process of showing the value you would bring to the media organization.

Showcase your best work

Imelda Salajan, a public awareness and media specialist at OnTrackMedia Indonesia says it's important to prepare a portfolio of your best work.

"Don't forget your show-reel or cuttings. The editor needs to hear your voice/see you on screen and judge your writing style. This is your chance to show off your skills - so make sure you pick a short but powerful selection from your published work. If you want to refer them to an Internet version - make sure it is appropriate for the editor to see and not a general site where you have included flippant comments for your friends - as I was sent recently!"

Prepare like a professional

Mustafa Eric a media development officer at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says thinking through what you might be asked and preparing your answers in advance is crucial.

"Make sure to impress the interviewer with your knowledge and skills. As you get prepared for the interview you need to make a list of possible questions you will be asked and try to make ready your answers in a way that will bring out to surface what you do best. It will also depend very much on the type of reporting job you are applying for: Is it an all round journalism assignment for a community newspaper or will you be covering a certain beat for a broadcaster? Answering questions confidently helps, boasting around doesn't."

For five more tips on acing a job interview, view the full article here.

This story first appeared on the site of IJNet’s partner, Media Helping Media (MHM), a training information site that provides free media resources for journalists working in transition states, post-conflict countries and areas where freedom of expression and media freedom is under threat. The complete article is translated in full into IJNet’s six other languages with permission from Media Helping Media.

_Image CC-licensed on Flickr via World Relief Spokane._