When the interviewer becomes the interviewee….

October 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Today I thought I’d explore the odd situation we journalists find ourselves in once all that networking and all those job applications have paid off, and we’ve landed that crucial job interview. The problem is that we’re used to being the interviewer, asking questions of our sources. Recruiters familiar with this situation say journalists must think carefully about how they plan to handle job interviews before the actual interview or they may end up botching it. Here are a few pitfalls and some potential solutions:

Pitfall: Journalist Wants to Control the Interview. This is natural; we’re used to arranging and controlling interviews to secure the information we want from our sources. The problem here is that the hiring manager needs to be the one controlling the interview and may consider the candidate unfavorably if they think he or she is trying to be in charge. Let them lead and ask you questions. Answer politely. When it’s your turn, ask smart, well-researched questions but don’t turn the tables and never, ever interrogate a hiring manager. Keep reminding yourself this isn’t about a story, it’s about a job.

Pitfall: Journalist Wants to Show How Much They Know about the News Organization. Again, this is natural. Journalists are good at research. Recruiters tell us to carefully research the company and the job before the interview. But it’s important not to dominate the interview or to show off your knowledge. When they ask for questions, have some prepared that show you’ve done your homework. But remember, no one likes a know-it-all. Keep your questions and answers on point.

Pitfall: Journalist Wants To Let the Interviewer Know Who He or She Knows in the Organization. Contacts are good, and contacts at the company may well have landed you the interview in the first place. But be careful about the way in which you mention who you know at the company. It’s best if the interviewer brings it up, and then you can talk about how you worked with so-and-so or knew so-and-so from a softball team or college or wherever. If they don’t, try to find an opening to mention your connection. But don’t embellish it and be careful not to look as though you’re name-dropping. If possible, follow up with your friend or former colleague after the interview — both to get feedback on how you did, and so that they can put in a good word for you afterward as well.

Pitfall: Talking Too Much. This goes along with the first pitfall, but it’s a separate issue as well. Once we get going, we journalists can talk a blue streak about what we do, the big stories we’ve covered, our vast knowledge about our subject area, and how much we want to work at the organization. Try to resist this impulse. You want to engage the hiring manager, and recruiters say the best way to do this is to let them talk. Review your background and career highlights and answer all of their questions, but try not to dominate the conversation. Ask them questions that get them talking, and then play off their answers. The more you can turn this into a real conversation, the more likely that your candidacy will move along for the position.

*Several email correspondents have mentioned that journalism groups specializing in subject areas — like business and financial journalism, environmental and science journalism and technology — have good list-serves and resume banks. In coming blog posts, I’d like to mention some of these groups and feature some of their D.C. area listings. If  you are a member of a group like this, please send along information so I can feature it. Thanks in advance!

And here are some new job postings. Happy Hunting!

*The first is an opening with the UN Foundation, which is looking for someone to take over the content of its Web Site, manage online advocacy and social media outreach, and also do some writing. The position description follows:

The UN Foundation is looking for an online advocacy consultant.  The ideal candidate will have the ability to work independently and with a team to identify, explore and implement smart and creative online strategies and make recommendations on creating content and using online communications tools to advance advocacy goals.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Working with the Communications Director to create and implement online advocacy plans, including designing, producing and executing advocacy campaigns, list-building, social media campaigns, and community-building tools and strategies;
  • Expanding and maintaining a strong and engaged online list, including paid acquisition;
  • Maintaining the backend technology Convio to segment list as needed and monitor and assess the performance of email campaigns and online content;
  • Conducting proactive online grassroots outreach and smart use of social media sites;
  • Working with the Communications Director, Public Affairs team and program staff to keep branding and messaging consistent on and offline;

The ideal candidate will have a strong and demonstrated interest in the political process and global issues, a minimum of 2 years of online advocacy experience either in a campaign on NGO setting, a broad understanding of social media and successful management of online advocacy, and the ability to communicate effectively with wide range of constituencies.  Familiarity with Convio CRM and CMS systems highly preferred.

If you are interested in this position, please send resume and cover letter to:

Victoria Baxter, Deputy Director, Communications and Public Affairs



UN Foundation

1800 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Fourth Floor

Washington, DC 20036

*The Rights Working Group (RWG) is seeking a creative, motivated and organized campaign coordinator to coordinate a national campaign – Racial Profiling: Face the Truth.

The description and information about applying follows:

*The final job offerings are from a site/list serve forwarded to me…Some are marketing and PR jobs and others are in publishing. Some are in the D.C. metro area and others are not, but it appears to be a good list and you might want to subscribe, or post your resume there.


Job Seekers:
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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Back-to-work grab bag How to prepare just in case….

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