Are you about to attend an interview for a journalist position at a Publishing House?
Even if you have already made a name for yourself as a journalist, the interview process can be tough. Many writers tend to be introverted, so it can be difficult to sell your skills in a formal interview setting.
The trick to acing a formal journalist interview is being prepared for various questions you are likely to be asked. The interviewer is probably going to ask questions that determine your approach to writing and your work ethic.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common journalist interview questions and the best way to answer them.
- Interview Questions for Journalists
- Who are Your Favorite Writers?
- Which are Your Favorite Types of Publications?
- Why are you Interested in Working at This Publication?
- Describe Contributions You Have Made that Have Increased Readership
- What is a Major Story You Wish You Had Written?
- Are you Experienced in using Technology to Tell a Story?
- Do You Have Experience using Content Management Systems?
- Have You Ever been Tempted to Embellish the Facts of a Story?
- How Do You Stay Informed on Social Trends and Current Events?
- Are There Certain Elements or Ideas You Usually Include in Your Stories?
- Would You Take on a Story that Could Damage a Person’s Reputation?
- How Good Are You at Sticking to Deadlines?
- Practical Interview Test
- Looking For More Journalism Opportunities?
- Final Thoughts
Interview Questions for Journalists
During the interview, the hiring person needs to determine whether candidates are the right fit for the publication. In addition to determining their writing style, they need to determine their work ethics and personality. Make sure you are familiar with the work environment at the publication and highlight the ways you are the perfect candidate.
Who are Your Favorite Writers?
This is a common question that is used to break the ice and get you talking. However, it is important to be aware that the writers you talk about will reveal a lot about you. So, try to choose writers that are connected to the type of writing you hope to be hired to do.
Which are Your Favorite Types of Publications?
This question is designed to tell the interviewer more about your background and writing preferences. The interviewer wants to gain an insight into the types of articles you enjoy writing. To answer this question well, it is a good idea to do a lot of background research.
Make sure you are aware of the types of articles that are printed in the publication you are interviewing for. Successful writers need to spend a lot of time reading and absorbing different ideas and styles. Therefore, it is a good idea to mention at least four types of publications and highlight the aspects that appeal to you.
Why are you Interested in Working at This Publication?
This is another question where your research will come into play. The interviewer wants to make sure that you are familiar with the publication and will be the right fit. You should be able to identify elements that make the publication stand out from the crowd.
In addition to praising the publication, you need to show that you will be an asset. Identify a couple of areas that you believe you could enhance. This will help the interviewer to recognize your value as a future employee.
Describe Contributions You Have Made that Have Increased Readership
This is another opportunity for you to highlight your value as an employee. Ultimately, all publications are businesses that need to make money. Their goal is to sell as many issues as possible and continuously increasing their readership.
To answer this question, select two or three contributions that have been especially well received. Briefly outline the contributions and talk about the response that you received. This could be a particularly high number of emails from fans or letters to the editor about your contribution.
What is a Major Story You Wish You Had Written?
This is one of the most common Journalist Interview Questions and is designed to help the interviewer understand your passions and preferences. When talking about the story, explain why it particularly stands out to you. You can go into detail about how you would have written the story and the impact it would have had on your career.
Are you Experienced in using Technology to Tell a Story?
These days, a lot of publications have moved their content online to keep on top of readership preferences. Modern journalists often need to use technology to research and present their stories in the best way. Journalists who are unable to learn new skills and adapt are likely to be left behind.
So, start your answer by explaining the different ways you use technology when researching a story. You can talk about the impact that blogs have had on journalism and examples of successful blogs. Reveal the social media platforms you use to promote your stories and attract new readers.
Do You Have Experience using Content Management Systems?
Start your answer by explaining briefly what content management systems are and why they are important. Go on to describe your experience with them and how they have helped you. If you do not have any experience in this area, explain that it is something you are interested in learning.
Have You Ever been Tempted to Embellish the Facts of a Story?
Integrity is an important characteristic of a journalist, and it is important to stick to the facts at all times. As a journalist, you are sure to be aware of different spins you could put on a story to make it more powerful. However, it is important to avoid giving in to this temptation and report the true essence of the story.
The way that you answer this question will tell the interviewer a lot about you. You can start the story by highlighting the key differences between journalism and fiction writing. Demonstrate the methods you use to make even the dullest story come to life while sticking to the facts.
How Do You Stay Informed on Social Trends and Current Events?
Journalists need to be aware of current events so that they can make informed opinions and write about them. Begin your answer by explaining the importance of staying informed. Go on to outline the methods you use for doing this and how it helps you to remain relevant.
Are There Certain Elements or Ideas You Usually Include in Your Stories?
This question gives the interviewer an idea of your voice as a writer. Although every story you write will be different, a good writer should have a clear voice style and point of view. Your unique writing voice is usually what attracts your readers, and it should be very familiar to them.
You can begin this answer by outlining the way you have developed and established your voice. Provide a couple of brief examples of how this shines through in your writing. However, it is important to explain that you are also able to adapt this to the needs of the story and publication.
Would You Take on a Story that Could Damage a Person’s Reputation?
Your answer to this question will tell the interviewer a lot about your personality. The job of a journalist is to tell the truth at all times. However, it is important to spare a thought for the person you are writing about and write a balanced story.
Explain that when writing a story, you do as much research as possible to uncover the truth. You always try to present different sides of the story so that it is fair and balanced. While you try to minimize the impact on the subject and their reputation, your main responsibility is to the publication.
How Good Are You at Sticking to Deadlines?
Journalists need to be able to work to strict deadlines so that the publication is not delayed. Outline the tactics you use to manage stress and remain focused so that your work is always delivered on time. Explain that while it is not usually necessary, explain that you are willing to go the extra mile to meet your deadlines.
Practical Interview Test
To demonstrate your journalism and writing skills, the chief editor may ask you to perform a test. They will usually give you a news story from their newspaper or magazine and ask you to improve it. Alternatively, they may give you a topic before the interview to write about to present during the interview.
No matter what form the practical test takes, it is important to keep the publication’s style firmly in mind. Write as though your finished piece was actually going to be published by the chief editor. Things to bear in mind include length, style, and the audience you would be writing for.
Looking For More Journalism Opportunities?
Well, firstly, if you’re not quite sure which position will suit you best with our Journalist Job Description, Communications Specialist Job Description, Communications Director Job Description, as well as our Content Manager Job Description. Or even maybe take a look at our Best Jobs For Introverts.
As a writer, your resume is expected to be immaculate, and it will be if you follow my advice on How To Address A Cover Letter, How To Write A Letter Of Interest, the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, Hobbies Interest To Put On Resume, How To List Education On A Resume, Work Experience On A Resume, Achievements To List On Your Resume in 2023.
Lastly, essential reading I highly recommend is The Elements of Journalism, Journalistic Writing: Building the Skills, Honing the Craft, Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro.
Or what about Investigative Journalism: A Survival Guide, the Principles of American Journalism, Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing, Mobile and Social Media Journalism, and of course Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now all available online.
When you are preparing for a journalist interview, consider the skills that make you stand out from the crowd. This will guide you towards what you need to highlight during the interview. You may have special experience in a certain area that will give you the edge or have already established a large following.
It is a good idea to create a strong portfolio that highlights different aspects of your career and skills. Consider creating a website that showcases your articles and other content you have created. This allows you to provide the interviewer with the link to your website where they can view your work easily.
All the very best with your Interview!