So you’ve applied for a journalism job or internship, and the editor has called you in for an interview. What can you do to make a great impression and maximize your chances of landing the job? Here are five tips:
Dress for Success
A student of mine once showed up in my office dressed in jeans and a t-shirt to tell me he was heading to an internship interview. “Oh no you’re not,” I told him, and sent him home to change clothes. Workplace fashions may have gotten more casual in recent years, interview attire hasn’t. Men, this means a suit and tie, and women, a nice (but conservative) dress or outfit. No jeans, no t-shirts.
Do your homework
Find out as much as you can about the place you’re interviewing. Is it a newspaper that’s looking to beef up its web presence? A website that’s expanding its staff? Find out what they’re looking for, then show them how you can help.
Editors like applicants who are curious; after all, the best reporters are curious types who aren’t afraid to ask lots of questions. So ask plenty of questions about the place, the job and anything else that comes to mind. This shows you’re really interested in the job.
Show Them What You Have to Offer
John Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” It’s the same with a job. Too many job-seekers are only interested in what a job or a company can do for them; what you need to think about is, “What can I do for this company? What do I have to offer?” Figure that out, then emphasize that in the interview.
Bring the Right Attitude
Obviously, it’s important to be courteous and respectful in an interview. After all, nobody wants to work with a jerk. But for a journalism job it’s also important to show that you’ve got the kind of spirit and drive that it takes to be a great reporter. So be respectful, yes, but not mousy; polite, but not timid. Show them you’ve got the kind of intestinal fortitude needed to be a tough and persistent reporter.