Jobs in journalism are scarce right now. As the industry goes through a change and reinvention, jobs have fallen swiftly. But there are still jobs out there; you just have to know where to look.
Once you’ve found a job to apply for though, what’s next? The interview. Now, these can be daunting no matter what industry you’re in, but with the competition in journalism right now, you have to bring your A-Game.
So what should you do before and during a journalism interview? With so much to trip up on, it is worth following these steps.
Do your homework
Before the interview, you really need to do your homework. Any publication or programme that interviews you needs to see that what they produce interests you. Make sure you are reading that publication every day or watching the programme as often as possible; they will undoubtedly ask you what you thought of something over the last few days.
When you’re doing your homework, take notes. It can be easy to forget a whole manner of things during the interview, so taking in notes with you can make sure you get it right. They don’t have to be long, just bits that stood out.
Also, while you’re taking notes, make sure you write down both positives and negatives. One thing they will ask is what you would do differently. When going for a news broadcast you could comment on the running order or how they told a certain story. Don’t be afraid to say you would do it a little differently. They may want young blood to shake things up.
Know the panel
Once the interview is scheduled, it is worth ringing up to see who will be on the panel interviewing you. Most companies will happily tell you and this immediately puts you at an advantage.
Learn about the people who will be interviewing you. Where did they make a name for themselves? What has stood out in their career? What do you like that they have done? Journalism has a certain amount of ego in it, so dropping a mention of what they have done will boost your chances.
With most journalists on twitter now, find and follow them. What are they talking about? What do they like? Can you produce content that they like? Maybe even tweet them at one point just so they know who you are in advance.
Know the job
This may sound obvious but it isn’t straight forward. Journalism has such a variety of different jobs and you have to know exactly what you’ll be doing in order to impress in the interviewer.
For instance, if the job title says researcher, that could mean anything from being the ideas person to a contributor. Try and find someone with the same job title within the company and get in contact with them. What exactly do they do? Talk to them.
This way, on the day you can really push previous experience that meets with the specific job. If they want a contributor, you don’t want to be saying how great you are at ideas.
Prepare your pitch
When going into an interview, don’t let them set the agenda and just ask you questions. Go in with points you want to get across and try and steer the interview. This will mean that you aren’t caught off guard and know exactly what you are going to say.
Again, you can take in notes so write the points down. What do you really want to say about yourself, skills and experience?
Think of the job as a brief and you as the product. You need to make sure you are what they want so make the points relevant.
Different companies act in different ways and you need to be aware of that when approaching an interview. The Telegraph will be looking for someone very different to The Sun. You need to be aware of that and act accordingly.
This can be down to what you wear, how you act, the experience you bring up and how formal you are. It sounds like a lot but you need to juggle every aspect and make sure you’re not only perfect for the role, but perfect for the company.
There are some things you must never do in an interview but that many often make the mistake of doing.
Don’t go in cocky but make sure you can talk. That said, showing some nerves shows the job is serious to you and research has shown that interviewees are lighter on nervous people. However, you have to sell yourself and what you can do.
Never accept a tea or coffee. An interview won’t last so long you suffer from dehydration. All a cup does is act as a distraction and something else to possibly go wrong. Imagine if you spilt it on the interviewer. Not good.
Don’t keep saying sorry. If you don’t know something instantly, you don’t have to sit there apologising. Just take a minute and have a think. Explain you have to think about it and do so. They will appreciate it more than 20 sorrys during one interview.
Don’t lie or exaggerate. You will get found out and it will end all chances you ever had.
Finally, and this is the biggest, do not, when asked if you have any questions, ask about the salary, holiday or start date. If you get the job, everything can be arranged afterwards so wait till then.
Above all, just be honest, friendly and make sure what you say is relevant. Happy interviewing.
And of course, if you’re not successful, Natalie has shared her tips on dealing with job rejection.
Image on the homepage courtesy of Studio 279.
Do you have anything to add? What other tips would you give to interviewees? Tweet us @wannabehacks.