5 crucial tips for being interviewed

By |  May 13, 2016

This is part two of a two-part series on interviews. The first part of this series covers conducting an interview, while this part covers being interviewed – for both a job and an article.

1. Create a portfolio

Be sure to assemble all of your best work – including your resume, writing samples, references and whatever other materials apply to the position – in a portfolio case. Keeping your best work organized in a portfolio case or binder not only shows your preparedness, but also shows a level of professionalism that’ll impress the employer.

“Qualities that we would look for are a willingness to be flexible or a desire to try new tasks, personal or soft skills that show an ability to interact positively with other employees, and a positive work history that lends itself to the available position,” says Chris Upp, vice president and general manager for Conco Quarries Inc. “A good interview would include an introspective look at the highs and lows of a candidate’s previous work history. Those employees who can recognize not only their accomplishments, but the times when they failed and how they responded to those failures shows a better insight into what kind of person they are.”

If a journalist is interviewing you for a news article or feature, bring extra relevant materials to the interview, such as photos or important documents. It could save you time in the future and strike up interesting conversation.

2. Research your subject

Whether you’re being interviewed for a job position or an article, it’s imperative you research the company and people interviewing you.

When interviewing for a job position make sure you research the company as much as you can. It’s important to know exactly what the company does, its brand, clients and employees. Gain an understanding of the industries the company represents and of its core values. Employers may ask you specific questions about the company, and knowing those answers shows your commitment to the job and foreshadows a strong work ethic.

When you’re being interviewed for a news article or feature, understanding the subject helps you draw inspiration for what types of answers you might give. For example, if you’re being interviewed for an article in an outdoor magazine, and you’re asked what your favorite hobbies are, you’ll want to focus more on activities like running or biking, rather than watching movies. Although, of course, it’s important to answer the question as thoroughly as possible, even if your answers don’t relate to the question asked. It will help you prepare for the questions you’ll be asked, and it’ll even help ignite natural, comfortable conversation.

3. Prepare questions to ask

In both interview cases be sure to prepare questions to ask the employer or reporter. In the case of interviewing for a job interview, focus on the position you’re offered and your future in the company. Some important questions can include:

  • What kind of experience will I gain in this position?
  • Is there room to move up in the company?
  • How much has the company grown in the past five years?

In the case you’re interviewed for an article, these are some imperative questions to ask:

  • Where will this article be featured?
  • What kind of audience typically reads these articles?
  • How can I help the readers further build an understanding of the article subject?

“Another thing I look for is how interested they are in the position and how many questions they ask,” Upp says. “If the candidate is doing most of the talking during the interview and knows about the company and the position, then I consider that a very good start.”

It also doesn’t hurt to take notes during an interview. Write down the employer or reporter’s answers to these questions to keep for future reference. It’ll force you to listen, rather than let your mind drift off.

4. Stay composed

A lot of people tend to get nervous during interviews. Make sure to take a deep breath to avoid stuttering and nervous ticks, such as shaking your leg or picking at your nails. Maintain eye contact with the subject – it shows professionalism and your ability to take control of the conversation.

“A bad interview is one where there just doesn’t seem to be much communication on their part,” Upp says. “One-word answers are a strike against you. I try to craft my questions to where it’s nearly impossible to give a one-word answer, but there are those that do and that generally sends you to the bottom of the pool of candidates. Other bad interview issues include poor hygiene, appearance, distractions (such as a cellphone going off), limited eye contact and defensiveness about a question asked.”

Additionally, avoid using words like “um” and “actually.” According to an article by Time Inc., “For the experienced listener, ‘actually’ is a dead giveaway of an area that at the least needs to be further investigated, and may point at a deception.”

5. Say thank you

Saying “thank you” for these two types of interviews is a bit different.

When you’re interviewing for a job be sure to either write a handwritten “thank you” note or email to those who interviewed you. (Note: Don’t forget to exchange business cards, or at least ask for theirs if you don’t have one!) Be sure to do this either the day of your interview or the day after. The immediacy of the “thank you” helps to express your true interest in the position.

When you’re being interviewed for an article, the reporter will typically send you a “thank you” note or email first, in which you can respond politely. If you don’t hear anything from the reporter within the first few days, you can follow up with a “thank you” email.

Photo: iStock

What are the key characteristics you look for in a job candidate? Let us know in the “Post a Comment” section below!

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About the Author:

Allison Kral is the former senior digital media manager for North Coast Media (NCM). She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating e-newsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She also creates content for NCM's Portable Plants magazine, GPS World magazine and Geospatial Solutions. Her understanding of the ever-changing digital media world allows her to quickly grasp what a target audience desires and create content that is appealing and relevant for any client across any platform.

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