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
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
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
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
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
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.