Journalism Job Interviews: What You Can Expect On The Road To An Offer

Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than actually getting a response from a job application! It’s a time ripe with so many possibilities. And then it hits you — it’s time to put your best foot forward in a multi-stage process that could either end with a shiny new job offer or a rejection letting you know that this job wasn’t for you. Then, you start again by looking for a job that’s a better fit.

Either way, on the way to those results, will be a long road of interviews, edit tests, and answering that usual query: “Tell me about yourself.”

Well, here’s a guide that’ll tell you all about the typical interview process when it comes to journalism jobs, so you can concentrate on wowing the hiring managers. Every job interview process is different, but here’s how it typically goes in my experience of both interviewing for roles myself and hiring writers for my team.

The “Phone Screen”

This is usually the very first step. Sometimes, it’s with a recruiter with HR who wants to verify your credentials and your resume. They will usually ask you to tell them about yourself, your experience, and make sure you’re a good fit for the role. The questions will be very general. Sometimes, they’ll even mention if they are going to pass along your resume to the hiring manager.

A Call with the Hiring Manager

Welcome to Step 2! This is usually a phone call the hiring manager, the upper-level person who may be the one or one of many making the call on who to hire for this job. The questions you’ll be asked start to get more specific about the industry, so make sure you’re prepped and ready to answer.

An “Edit Test”

More and more publications are opting to give their writers and editors a test to see what you can do. Why? Well, when you see writing in a publication or website, it’s usually been read and edited by an editor several times — through an edit test, they’ll be able to evaluate you on your “raw” writing. Don’t worry, just do your best!

Unfortunately, a lot of media companies will make you take an hours-long edit test unpaid. On the hiring side, I do see the benefit of having candidates do one: they get to see how quickly you write (if it’s timed) and, again, your raw ideas/writing in action. However, from the being hired side, I also know what it’s like to waste six hours and risk my own original ideas on an edit test, yet never receive a call back.

My best guidance here would be to take a look at the parameters of the test for yourself and evaluate. If you’re uncomfortable with what they’re asking you to do, say something. See if they’ll compensate you or if there’s a shorter, more reasonable edit test you can complete.

The In-Person Interview

Here we go! This is usually the final stage. You’ll likely interview with your potential future direct supervisor and colleagues during what may or may not be a marathon of meetings for you. Sometimes, HR is nice enough to give you a schedule of who you’ll be meeting and when — and sometimes, the people you’ll be meeting with will stick to that schedule (and…sometimes they won’t. Long story). Google and research every one you’ll be meeting with! Trust me, the info you find out will come in handy during the interviews.

The Waiting Game

Waiting to hear if you got a job or not truly is the hardest part. Try not to check your phone and e-mail every minute. Breathe. And most importantly, there are plenty of other great jobs in the job sea — keep going and looking for the right fit! Even if it wasn’t this one, you’ll find the right role soon.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash