Interviewing tips beyond the actual interview

February 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

An important tip: From the minute you step into the building of the company or organization where you’re interviewing until you leave to go home, consider yourself in an interview situation and act accordingly. An email correspondent wrote, in response to a blog post earlier this week (“It’s not only what you say but how you say it”) that the same can be said of what you do. Make no mistake about it, when on an interview you’re being scrutinized and all of those who you meet will be looking for clues as to what kind of employee you might make.

I offer this advice not to make candidates even more nervous about interviews but to help job seekers avoid some of the missteps that some– even those well-prepared for the actual interview — make in this situation. From my own experience and that of other hiring managers, here are some tips on acing the “little” things as well as the bigger ones:

*Be polite, kind and professional with everyone you meet from the moment you walk in the door at your prospective employer’s building. Of course, you say. But hiring managers report, and I’ve found in my own recruiting experience, that a surprising number of job candidates (who understandably may be nervous and are determined to be on time to the interview) are short with and sometimes dismissive of those — such as security guards and executive or editorial assistants — who they don’t consider as being decision makers about the job. Many hiring managers  routinely check in with EAs after an interview to see what vibes they had from the job candidate based on how they treated them. I had a situation as a recruiter where I asked the two EAs, who would be working fairly closely with this journalist if hired, their opinion of the candidate I had just interviewed for an editorial position. One said he seemed fine (though she wasn’t terribly enthusiastic) while the other, after asking if I really wanted to know (I assured her I did) said he was unfriendly with her until I or another manager walked into the room, and then his demeanor suddenly changed. Though this alone didn’t end his candidacy, it provided another piece of information that led me to determine he wouldn’t be a good fit with the news organization’s culture. He didn’t get an offer.

*If you’re going to be in the office for an extended period (when there would likely be some gaps in your interview schedule), ask to meet with those on the team you could be joining or who have similar jobs in the organization. Not only could you pick up some important information from prospective colleagues about the job and where hiring managers stand in the interview process, but they could become your allies. Hiring managers, again, often check back in with those with whom you had even casual conversations while visiting the company. In these chats, ask a lot of questions and listen. (And afterward, send them brief email thank-you notes.) If it goes well, such meetings could be a help to you as the prospective colleagues may put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.

*In a lunch (or breakfast or dinner) interview, order something easy to eat (not a messy sandwich or spaghetti, for instance) and while not ignoring your food, keep your focus on the discussion. If you’re unsure about which fork to use or worried about other etiquette matters, find a good Web site on the topic and do some research before the interview so that you appear polished. (This is especially important if you’ll be entertaining clients or sources if you get the job — the hiring manager may be taking you out for a meal to see how you’d do in this situation with others.) Treat the waiter and anyone else you meet at the restaurant — such as the hostess and coatcheck clerk — respectfully, again, the hiring manager will be taking notice.

*Act as though you already work in the organization — comfortable and competent — but not as if you run the joint. At some point in the interview process, those making the decision must have a moment where they can picture you in this job. By acting the part and showing you are comfortable in this office and with decision makers as well as other employees, you will be helping them see that. Yet there’s a fine line between appearing confident and seeming overconfident or arrogant. And if you are applying to be a manager in the organization, you don’t want to seem to be too friendly or indebted to anyone in the organization (such as those who might have referred you for the position) as the hiring manager could be worried that you might “play favorites” if you got the job.

*The following item (courtesy of via looks at the’s launch of its HuffPost College, where nine students — who owe a combined $816,897 for their educations, so far! — are contributing material, but are not being paid. The site is also not paying “citizen journalists” for their contributions and last year garnered attention for some unpaid contributor slots as well. While this item focuses on this site, other news organizations are also happy to accept content without handing over a dime to the contributors. How do you feel about this? Does this undercut pay for freelancers and journalists who need to make a living from their craft? And what about those indebted college students?

Is Huffington Post’s college section exploiting students?

*And here are some leads at the end of this work week:

*Atlantic Media’s National Journal in D.C. is looking for a director of marketing:

Director of Marketing
National Journal – Washington, DC
collaboration with the National Journal print and online advertising leaders, editors, and events staff to develop programs in support of advertising strategy…
From National Journal

*The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Commerce Department in D.C. has an opening for a writer/editor:

Writer/Editor, ZA-1035-4 (DE/CR)
Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Washington, DC
s Office of Communications and External Affairs (OC… will serve as the expert writer and editor in the NOAA Communications & External Affairs Office. You will… $89,033 – $136,771 a year

*Radio One’s WMMJ in D.C. is looking for a promotions director for the station:

Promotions Director-WMMJ-DC
Radio One, Inc. – Washington, DC
Manages and directs the promotion, advertising and public relations of the stations to the public and clients. Creates a station image that attracts new…
From Radio One, Inc.

*And here are a few listings from to round out the week. The Washington Examiner in D.C. is looking for some freelancers to write about real estate:

Company: Washington Examiner
Freelance Real Estate Reporters
Greater Washington Metro Area, District of Columbia
Job Status: Freelance
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 1, 2010
Job ID: 629723

The Washington Examiner is looking for additional freelance journalists to write stories about the business side of residential real estate in the greater Washington, DC area.

We are seeking reporters with at least two years of reporting experience – preferably covering business. You need to be able to write insightfully about such subjects as shifts in the real estate market, school districts, land sales, construction issues, transportation, mortgages, taxes, legal matters, consumer issues, remodeling and real estate contracts. Do you need to be a lawyer, Realtor or contractor? Not at all – but you have to be able to interview them effectively, spot and understand trends and understand how homes are bought and sold.

This is a chance to write about one of the most interesting real estate markets in the country and help people make decisions on buying or selling a house and managing their finances.

Some assignments may be only once or twice a year while some could develop into a regular weekly check. You can set your own hours as long as you meet deadlines and are able to report in a professional manner on the real estate, design and building communities. If you know the business side of real estate, design, finance, home repair, remodeling (you get the idea) and have a minimum of two years experience as a reporter, please consider applying. Preference is given to those who live in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Please note: Though we love to talk to realtors and other professionals in the real estate community, the need to avoid any conflict of interest limits this opportunity to those not working in real estate, building, home finance or related industries.

HOW TO APPLY: Please email a brief cover letter, resume and 3 attached clips (seriously – no Web links) to Dee Ann Divis, Assistant Managing Editor – News at

Please start the subject line of your email with your last name – for example “JONES business reporter with mortgage experience” No calls please.

*SIGNAL Magazine, a tech monthly,  in Fairfax has an opening for an assistant editor:

Company: SIGNAL Magazine
Assistant Editor
Fairfax, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
March 29, 2010
Job ID: 637678

The assistant editor position on SIGNAL Magazine, a monthly technology magazine, encompasses many facets of editorial work, from online to print, from writing to editing.

The assistant editor is the prime coordinator and editor for the chapter news section of the publication, responsible for working with a variety of volunteers on their submissions.

He or she also will organize, review and edit articles and various content for both the online and print versions of the publication as well as the enewsletter, web and blog.

The right candidate must be a self-starter who can work independently and who can juggle many unrelated tasks at once. To be successful, this individual must have extremely strong organizational ability, solid editing and writing skills, robust experience collaborating in the Web 2.0 world, and a strong desire to work in a team environment. The right candidate must be dependable, with the knowledge and skills to produce high quality work on deadline.

This position requires at least 1 year of editorial experience; excellent writing and organizational skills; ability to meet multiple deadlines; and a degree in English, journalism or a related field. Experience using social media and an understanding of Internet technologies required. Communications/technology and defense industry knowledge helpful but not required.

The position includes occasional travel.

The individual in this position will be part of as established magazine team on a well-respected industry publication and will have the opportunity to collaborate and expand the SIGNAL brand through social media including FaceBook, blogs, Twitter, Linked in and Second Life. The association is very employee friendly and offers a pleasant, comfortable workplace, with staff members who take pride in their work. Competitive salary, good benefits, generous annual leave and flexibility too.

Learn more about SIGNAL Magazine at

To be considered for this position, please include a current resume and salary requirements.

*And last but not least this week, The Washington Post’s Express in D.C. is looking for a content editor/writer:

Company: Washington Post Express
Dynamic Editor/Writer
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 1, 2010
Job ID: 1152103

Express, The Washington Post Co.’s free commuter daily, is seeking a content editor to join its fast-paced newsroom. We’re looking for a lively wordsmith who has a deep knowledge of D.C.’s arts and entertainment scene, is at ease in a multimedia environment and is comfortable holding forth on all elements of pop culture: music, movies, art, books and more.

This position is entertainment-focused, but applicants with backgrounds in hard news are also desired. The ideal candidate will have at least five to 10 years’ experience in a news-gathering environment — print or online — and must demonstrate seasoned editorial judgment and a mastery of grammar, story-telling structure and AP style. Exceptional headline-writing skills, comfort using online publishing tools and some page layout experience are also essential. Writing experience is strongly preferred.

Send resume, letter, three writing samples and three before-and-after editing samples to or to: Express Content Editor Job 1150 15th St. NW 5th Floor, Lennox Bldg. Washington D.C. 20071

Happy hunting and have a relaxing weekend!! My next blog post will be in March — (good riddance to February!) on Monday.



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Email rules for job hunters What to do before you start a search while still employed

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