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How to interview like a journalist

How to interview like a journalist

In journalism school, you learn what an inverted pyramid is and how to read a police report. You learn that AP Style is doughnut and that there is no Oxford comma in journalism. 

But after being an editor for over a year, I realized they might be forgetting to teach something in j-school — how to interview like a journalist.   

So in my limited expert experience, please allow me to pass along some tips. 

1. Ask questions

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You are literally applying to be a professional question asker. When the hiring editor asks if you have any questions, you should probably have a few questions prepared. Not asking a single question about a journalism job doesn't look good. 

2. Read the paper before the interview

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It's probably a smart idea to read up a little on the news outlet you're applying. Trust me, an editor knows when an interviewee hasn't read a single article before the interview. A common request in an interview is to pitch story ideas. Pitching a story is a lot easier if you've read up before the interview. 

3. Don't Skype in your pajamas

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Skype can be a technological savior when it comes to doing long-distance job interviews. It certainly beats a phone-only interview. But for crying out loud, look professional during a Skype interview. Don't interview in your pajamas. Don't interview with your roommate doing dishes in the kitchen. Find a place where you won't be interrupted. Lock the cat in the closet. Dress like you are meeting your future editor in person.

4. Keep your resume to one page 

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Unless you're Wolf Blitzer, your resume shouldn't have a page count. I have seen resumes from recent college graduates that were more than two pages. Your resume should fit on a single page. If not, delete any non-journalism related experiences. Your editor doesn't need to know about your responsibilities as a Starbucks barista.

5. Watch the typos

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Speaking of resumes - if your resume is littered with typos, don't expect to get far in the interview process. I know one editor who tosses any resumes with typos. Even the best journalists need copy editors. Have a colleague look over your resume before sending it in.  

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