5 ways to prepare for a job interview

Jun 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Advice, Job Interview


A lot of people try to prepare for a job interview by guessing what they’ll be asked. There is so much more to it than that.

Also spend your time preparing the things you want to say and the questions you want to ask, rather than trying to guess what they’ll ask. These are five things you can do to prepare for your interview:

Learn the company

Do your homework. Know who owns the company, its executives and most prominent personalities, its audience, circulation, the broad-brush picture of its past. These are not questions you want to ask the interviewer. Asking them will make you seem dumb. Knowing the answers will make you seem smart. Many interviewers ask, “What do you know about our company?” It is a way to gauge your interest in working there.

See what stories the media company has been doing lately, whether on air, on paper or on digital platforms. Look all around, not just the section you’re applying for. Know something about the companys market. Who lives in the community? What are the major communities, employers, ethnic groups? Its history and future? If the newsroom is doing its job, you should be able to glean some of this from the way it covers news. If it’s not doing its job, get the information from the Census Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce, which might have a concise and boosterish newcomer’s guide. Get a map.

Know your own resume

Anything on your resume is fair game. They’ll certainly ask about any gaps or breaks, and probably any job changes. Rehearse your answers. Don’t be defensive. They’re just asking for information; you’re just providing it. Think beforehand about why you left certain jobs to start new ones. Frame positive answers. No one wants to hire someone who has left their last three jobs because they hated all three bosses. Chances are, they’ll hate the next one, too.

Do some soul searching, and be ready to talk about where you’d like to take your career. That’s certain to come up in one way or another. There can be many right answers. You’ll want to have some, though, that indicate you’re personally motivated to do quality work in the service of this fine newsroom. That may mean you aspire to another job at that company — eventually, mind you, or that you just want to do some great, kick-ass journalism. Either path works.

Plan your questions

Spend more time planning your questions than anticipating theirs. You’re a journalist, right? You’d better have some good questions, and they better not be about where to park. The questions will grow out of your investigation of the company and its role in the community, and your personal aspirations. What do newsroom managers see as the company’s future? How do they plan to keep pace with a (changing/ aging/ growing/ shrinking) community? How do the managers value professional development? What kind of feedback can you expect and assist in? You get the idea.

Interviewing is a two-way street. They’re checking you out; you’re checking them out. Ask a lot of questions about the things that are important to you as you consider whether this is a good fit. Ask to meet some people who are now working in the type of job you’re seeking.

Get your point across

Think about what you want to get across. What achievements, ambitions and traits should they know about you? Make sure you know, and find ways to work them into the interview. After all, their questions might not lead in all the directions you want. You can get there with well-framed questions, or by simple statements: “One thing I’d like to add is that I’ve never had a correction in three years. My editors say I’m very accurate, and I’m proud of that.”

Get the details right

Little things can make your day go well — or miserably. So, make them happen in your favor.

That means getting to the interview early, so you can get settled and not arrive in a sweaty hurry. Make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost.

Assume that they’ve lost your resume and all your clips, and bring extra sets.

Eat something. Not a breakfast lasagna, but put something in your stomach. You know what makes you sleepy or gassy. Skip those, but don’t let your stomach grumble all day.

Interview lunches, especially when you’re matched with three or four people, are infamous for leaving the candidates without a chance to get a forkful to their lips. These are meals in name only.

If you feel yourself getting uptight, look for a break where you can decompress with a walk outside, grab some coffee or a Coke, or at least slip into a restroom to freshen up. Take toothpaste and a brush in your purse or briefcase to help with that.

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