How to make the most of a job interview

December 28, 2009 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

These days, landing an interview with a potential employer is a cause for celebration on its own — with all the competition (especially for journalism positions) even getting to the interview stage means you likely have leapfrogged over many applicants. But because of the intense competition, that means there is all that more pressure to make the interview memorable, especially as you are likely only one of several applicants who have made it to this stage.

How do you stand out — in a positive way? First, for journalists, you have to remember that you’re not in control of the interview like you so often have been as a reporter, and you must avoid trying to take charge. (see Oct. 14 blog post “When the interviewer becomes the interviewee…”) Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some strategies for turning the interview to your advantage. This will require employing some techniques before, during and after the interview, experts say, including:

*Before the interview. Research, research — and more research. You want to become an expert on the company or organization, its mission, values, philosophy, ownership and history. Then you want to study the position carefully. Look at the company’s Web site and — if at all possible — talk to people inside the company (or those who have left) about the specific job’s duties, functions, pay scale, hours and place within the organization. Try to find out why the position is open and where the former occupant went — if you can find them, seek to talk to them about the job, what they liked about it and what they didn’t, and why they moved on. This could be invaluable. Find out what the hiring manager is looking for in candidates. Then do some research on those who will be interviewing you — try to find out how long they have been with the company, their role in the organization and if you can, their management style. All of this will help you prepare to answer their questions and will help you shape questions to ask. Yet be discreet — you don’t want to look as though you are snooping around about the company.

*During the interview. Be personable, confident and if you can at all manage it, be calm. Try to avoid mannerisms that show you’re nervous — don’t fidget, play with your hair or the buttons on your suit and don’t hem and haw. Avoid “um,” “you know,” and “I’m not sure.” Answer all questions directly and politely — try to show through specific examples what you’ve done in the past that could translate to success in this position. At some point as a recruiter, I could either picture someone I was interviewing in the job or I couldn’t see them in the job. You want to get the interviewer to be able to picture you in this role. Using the background information you’ve collected on the company and the interviewer, try to engage them and showcase your knowledge about the position, but don’t appear overly familiar or seem like you’re too eager to impress. Be yourself — up to a point; an interview is not a time to make jokes or to try to become friends with the interviewer. You want them to take you seriously as a professional.

*Ask questions. Interviewers will nearly always ask if you have any questions, and you should have several (especially if you’re interviewing for a newsroom position — what journalist worth their salt doesn’t have any questions?). First ask smart questions about the organization and its future plans that showcase the research you have done about the company. Another good strategy is to ask a question that arises from the discussion you’ve had in the interview — it will show you’ve been paying attention. Finally, this is a time to seek clarification about the specific position or the hiring process (ie, timing). Yet don’t act presumptuous and start asking questions about salary, vacation time and a start date — you may scare off the employer. There will be plenty of time to discuss these items in follow-up conversations if the interview went well.

*If you feel as though the interview isn’t going well, there are a few things you might be able to do to get things back on track. First, slow down. If you’re nervous and you think it shows, pay attention to your breathing, and answer questions slowly and with emphasis. That can often help you get back on track. Listen carefully to questions — don’t try to race ahead of the interviewer. If you’re not sure you’re providing enough information, politely ask if you have given enough details, or whether they need more? Think of details that can amplify a response. And if they ask you something for which you’re not prepared, don’t try to fake it. Tell them you’d like to think a bit more about that — and try to come back to the question later in the interview; they may appreciate your honesty. When interviewing with several people in an organization — as you likely will these days — make sure that you’re not giving them different impressions of you. Stick to the facts about your background and your explanation of why you’d be a good fit for this job. They will compare notes. And remember that you’ll likely feel more comfortable with one or another of them, and that’s natural.

*After the interview. ALWAYS follow up with thank you notes to those who interviewed you — email is fine in most cases. If you have nice handwriting (unlike me!) feel free to send a handwritten thank you note, but it’s not a necessity. What’s more important is that you follow up within 24 hours thanking them for taking the time to talk to you, perhaps restating (briefly) your qualifications for the position but definitely expressing your interest in the opening. Hiring managers want to hire people who they feel want to become part of their organization — show them that.

*And a few job leads for this last work week of 2009:

*InvestorPlace Media in Rockville is looking for a managing editor. (The initial listing was at washingtonpost.com):

Managing Editor
InvestorPlace Media, LLC – Rockville, MD
See original job posting at washingtonpost.com »

InvestorPlace Media LLC (formerly known as Phillips Investment Resources) is a fast growing, fast-paced financial publishing company looking for an energetic, flexible, hard working Managing Editor in our Newsletter Publishing Group.  We have a 30+year history of growth and success and offer great benefits, convenient location and a stable work environment with great opportunity for advancement.

This is a great opportunity to work on our company’s most successful franchise — a highly visible position with great potential for those interested in a career in the financial services industry.

Job Requirements

Ideal candidate will have at least 3-5 years experience working on deadline with excellent writing and interpersonal skills.  Candidate will be responsible for managing the editorial quality of our award-winning investment newsletters and websites, and will have a great opportunity to contribute to an industry leader in the fast-paced would of investment publishing.  In addition to editing reports and marketing materials, the Managing Editor will perform research, and and must have excellent analytical and problem solving skills.  There is ongoing interaction with senior investment advisors, financial, marketing and print production staff as well as freelance writers and outside vendors.  The Managing Editor must also respresent the company at occassional investment conferences as well as through subscriber correspondence.

Other Qualifications

Knowledge of InDesign helpful but not a requirement.  Good interpersonal skills; effective and persuasive communicator.  Excellent writing and editing skills.  Experience with Dreamweaver and HTML is extremely helpful.

Benefits

  • Healthcare, Dental and Vision Benefits
  • Employer paid short and long term disability
  • 401k Plan and Employer Match
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Employer paid Life
  • Supplemental Life & AD&D
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (for Medical and Dependent Care)
  • 9 Paid Holidays
  • 5 Personal Days
  • Business Casual Environment
  • Vacation pay
  • Sick Leave
  • Direct Deposit
  • Employee Assistance Program

We are an equal opportunity employer. We maintain a drug-free workplace and perform pre-employment substance abuse testing.

*The Society for Neuroscience in D.C. has an opening for a production coordinator:

Company: Society for Neuroscience
Location: US  – Washington, District of Columbia
Posted: 12.16.2009
Field: Graphic Design
Job Functions: Non-Profit, Product Development, Project Management
Job Level: Junior Staff

Description

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is a non-profit, professional association representing over 40,000 members working in the dynamic and multi-disciplinary field of science that deals with the brain and nervous system. Our staff of 70-plus is a highly dedicated group passionate about and proud of supporting the scientific research, advocacy and public education activities our members are engaged in. We work in a unique, award-winning, environmentally friendly building and offer excellent employee benefits. We foster a culture of creativity, initiative-taking and excellence, and seek highly motivated, bright, inquisitive, and energetic team players interested in contributing to the multi-faceted mission of the Society.

Job Title: Production Coordinator
Department: Member Communications & Creative Services Department
Report To: Asst. Director of Member Communications & Creative Services
Status: Exempt

SUMMARY: The Production Coordinator will support the Society’s creative services activities, ensuring all work products/projects are completed on time, to specification, and within budget. Responsibilities include developing and monitoring production schedules, identifying paper options, securing printing and mailing bids and proposals, helping to conduct press checks for color, and ensuring promotional and other relevant material is ordered, shipped, and delivered on time and on schedule.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES will include the following. Other duties may be assigned.
• Confer with department heads and vendors to determine scheduling and budgets, production values, costs, and other key variables.
• Obtain cost and time estimates for print jobs.
• Assist in the selection of prepress, printing, binding, paper selection, shipping, and other vendors.
• Analyze and compile comprehensive print quotes and cost analysis for clients. Utilize print production knowledge to educate clients and team members, providing cost effective options that best meet their needs.
• Monitor and report on production status of a wide range of publications and products to ensure projects are completed within specified schedules and budgets.
• Maintain relationships with members of the prepress and printing industries and with suppliers of paper, ink, and other materials in order to obtain the best rates, schedules, and quality of materials and processes.
• Help department stay abreast of new developments in prepress, printing, binding, shipping, and paper suppliers.
• Coordinate the invoicing and closing of all print production jobs and the creation of purchase orders.
• Manage the Society’s photo library, fulfill photo requests for both print and Web use, and coordinate photography guidelines and agreements.
• Develop and/or coordinate graphic layouts, concept designs, and artwork illustrations.
• Generate mail lists, using the association’s data management system.

GENERAL DUTIES:
• Serve as an engaged and involved team member, supportive of the varied experiences, and perspectives of internal and external colleagues.
• Support and actively build an office culture dedicated to superior customer service that exceeds member and client expectations. Work within the team and among teams to ensure that decisions are made to further the organization’s goals.
• Respond positively to unexpected demands and changing priorities.

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES: None.

QUALIFICATIONS:
• Minimum of 3 years experience in the field of print production required, including prepress, printing, and mailing.
• Strong project management skills, including the ability to communicate timelines, multi-task, and set priorities in a flexible manner to address changing needs.
• Excellent customer service and communication skills, including the ability to maintain a professional environment while managing difficult situations.
• Expertise in office automation (word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software), as well as proven Internet research skills.
• Excellent graphic layout skills, using Macintosh OS and Adobe Creative Suite, with strong attention to typography and implementation of visual identity standards.
• Knowledgeable in direct mail and U.S. Postal regulations.
• Familiarity with software and Web development process a plus.

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE: College degree and/or 3-5 years experience in the printing field, experience at print or mail vendor highly desirable.

LANGUAGE SKILLS: Excellent written and spoken English skills. Strong written, research, oral and interpersonal skills, including proven presentation skills.

MATHEMATICAL SKILLS: Basic math skills required.

REASONING ABILITY: Must show good judgment and logic. Also, must be able to competently handle potentially controversial issues and situations.

WORK ENVIRONMENT
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The environment is often high-pressured with an emphasis on teamwork. General environment requires employee to be very flexible. There are usually many things going on at once, and employee may be jumping from project to project throughout the day. At various points throughout the year, the environment becomes very stressful and hectic as many deadlines approach simultaneously. Employee may be asked to work late hours during this time to get projects done. During peak periods, such as the annual meeting, other demands may be required, such as setting up signs and assisting with literature distribution. This work will include long hours standing and walking, including up and down stairs and escalators, moving up to 25-pound boxes, etc.

Please forward your cover letter, current resume, salary requirements, and references by e-mail or mail to:

Human Resources, SfN
1121 14th Street, NW
Suite 1010; Washington, DC 20005
email: jobs@sfn.org Web: http://www.sfn.org

NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE

The Society for Neuroscience is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to fostering a diverse and multicultural work environment. SfN welcomes applications from all qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran or any other category protected by law.

How to Apply

Apply via email to: jobs@sfn.org

Apply via website: Apply Through Our Web Site

*And The Gazette has two openings in its Gaithersburg office (the hat tip on both is to journalismjobs.com) — one for a community editor and one for a photojournalist:

Company: The Gazette
Position:
Community Editor
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
January 26, 2010
Job ID: 1136490
Website: http://www.gazette.net

Description:

Community editor – Bethesda-Kensington-Potomac cluster editions

The Gazette seeks a community editor for our weekly community newspapers serving Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and Potomac in Montgomery County, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C.

The editor will direct coverage and manage and edit the work of five staff reporters as well as freelance writers; manage incoming requests for coverage and photography; coordinate contributions to a daily web site and handle community outreach.

In addition, this editor works with a copy desk for layout, graphics and design of zoned editions of The Gazette, participates in local editorial board discussions and handles other duties as needed, including writing briefs and an occasional story or column.

Previous experience with directing a newsroom staff is essential. The right candidate will have ideas about how to grow and improve the newspapers and website, maintain the status as the definitive local news source for our communities and strive for excellence in journalism.

Some evening and weekend work is to be expected and necessary.

The Gazette offers a competitive package of benefits, including health and dental insurance, paid vacation and holidays, tuition reimbursement and a 401(k) plan.

Send resumes, work samples, and salary requirements to Montgomery County Editor, The Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. By e-mail, editjobs@gazette.net and put BCC desk in the subject line.

No calls, please. Because of the volume of applications typically received, we are only able to contact finalists.

EOE

And:

Company: The Gazette
Position:
Photojournalist
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
January 25, 2010
Job ID: 1136095
Website: http://www.gazette.net

Description:
The Gazette, which publishes newspapers in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., is looking for a photojournalist to join our Montgomery County staff.

The successful candidate will join four other photographers shooting for our many publications and web site, Gazette.net.

Experience with video is a necessity. Reliable transportation required.

Send resume and a link to your still and video work samples to Dan Gross, Photo Editor, The Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. By e-mail: editjobs@gazette.net

No calls, please.

EOE

Happy hunting!

Jodi

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