5 crucial tips for being interviewed

By Allison Barwacz, Digital Media Content Producer

This is part one of a two-part series on interviews. The first part of this series covers preparing to be interviewed, and the second part focuses on conducting a thorough interview.

iStock_interviews1. Create a portfolio

Be sure to assemble all of your best work — including your resume, writing samples, references or 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.

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?

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.

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 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 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.

Allison Barwacz joined North Coast Media in 2014. 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 eNewsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites.

Photo: iStock