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Good Journalism Interview Questions and Answers

Zini Mehta
Interviews can be extremely nerve-wrecking, if one is not prepared. This story intends to help you prepare for a journalism job interview. Given are some useful journalism interview questions and answers for your reference.
Finally, done with college and looking for a job or switching jobs or applying for an internship, the biggest hurdle for many people is clearing the job interview. Interviews can be very difficult, even if you possess all the qualities required for the job.
Journalism job interviews are usually a little different, along with the typical questions that are asked in most interviews, there will be a lot of discussion. The interviewer will try to have a conversation with you, to test the most important quality that a journalist is required to have, which is good communication skills.
Since, journalists are expected to be excellent communicators, any nervousness in the interview may cost you the job. What makes people nervous in an interview is the element of surprise. They are not sure, what questions will be asked and are often caught off-guard. This story attempts to help you ace your interview, by giving you some common questions.
There is no certainty that the same questions will be asked in each interview. However, most questions will be on the same lines. So, read these questions and prepare your own answers to get your dream job as a journalist.

Common Interview Questions for the Job of a Journalist

Why do you want to become a journalist?

You can talk about your interest in current affairs or your writing skills. If you feel it is your social responsibility to bring to the notice of people any malpractices and corruption, talk about it. Discuss an issue that you strongly feel about, do not give abstract answers such as "I like traveling". Your answer should be relevant and realistic, avoid exaggeration.

What experience do you have in journalism?

Carry your portfolio, it should have about 10-15 of your published articles. Carry different types of articles such as features, news reports, human interest stories, etc. If you do not have any professional experience, you can show articles that have been published in school and college newspapers. If you have a blog mention it in your resume.

How do you keep yourself updated about the latest happenings?

Here the interviewer wants to know which newspaper you read regularly and which news channels you watch. You must have some information about your favorite media house, such as what is their political affiliation, what is their style of writing, if they give priority to a certain type of news, what is their editorial policy, etc.
If you had the opportunity to cover any news story in the last 1 year, which one would it be and why?
The news story you mention is not really important, the interviewer wants to see how enthusiastic you are and also gauge your understanding of big news stories. So, make sure you talk about one that you know enough about.
Tell the interviewer how you would have liked to cover the story and if you thought any angle was missed or unnecessarily highlighted by the media.

Why do you want to work in this medium?

If you have decided to work in a particular medium, you obviously have your own reasons and should be in a good position to answer this question. Talk about the advantages of the medium and how you think you can contribute to it. Avoid answers like "I did not get a job elsewhere."

Which beat would you like to cover and why?

Talk about your interest in the beat and how you have been following all the major news stories of that particular beat. Explain to the interviewer how you have the qualities required to excel in the beat. If you have any contacts in the beat, you can talk about it, but do not brag.
Show any published work, in the relevant beat. If you are not sure which beat you want to work in, you can mention 2-3 and say you are open to working in either of them.

What is your view on the state of journalism in the country today?

You can give your honest opinion, however, avoid getting too aggressive. Be careful not to sound too biased and narrow-minded. Support your views with a rational explanation, you can cite examples to support your beliefs.
You may be required to travel to remote places at irregular hours. Will you be comfortable with that?
If you have decided to pursue journalism, then I am assuming your answer to this question would be yes. Tell the interviewer you love people and places and are always on the look out for story ideas. If you have any reservations, then be vocal, there is no backing out once you get the job.

What according to you is the biggest problem faced by the city?

A journalist is required to know everything about his city. He must know every nook and corner of the city, must be well versed with its history, know all the important people and the governing bodies. With all that information, answering this question should not be difficult. Also mention, in your opinion, how the issue can be taken care of.

What is your dream story and how do you intend to cover it?

This question will show the interviewer how serious you are about becoming a journalist. Have a rough draft of a story that you would like to do, do not say something just to sound intelligent. Make sure you have a clear idea of how you will cover it or else the interviewer may feel that you are not realistic and street smart.

Other Common Questions

Given are some more common interview questions, they are not journalism specific and are generally asked in most interviews.
#What do you consider your biggest strength and weakness?
#Why did you leave your last job?
#What was your previous job profile?
#Why should we select you over all the other candidates?
#Why do you want to work with this company?
#How do you think you can contribute to this publication?
#Where do you see yourself 5/10 years down the line?
#What is your ideal job?
#What are your salary expectations?

Some More Interview Tips

→ Know the Newspaper/Radio/TV Channel/Website

You must have all major details of the publication such as details of ownership, in which cities the newspaper/magazine is published, what is its editorial policy, who are the editors and senior reporters, what is their style of writing, the readership profile of the paper, etc.
You should also know who are the main competitors of the company and names of all sister publications. The aim of this question is to see if you have made the effort to research about the company, a well-informed candidate is definitely more appealing to the employer.

→ Good Knowledge of Current Affairs

It is important that you know all the latest news. It is quite likely that you may be asked about a recent news story. You do not want to create a bad impression, by appearing clueless. Keep abreast of all latest happenings before your interview.

→ Have Some Stories Planned

Media houses are looking for creative people who will be able to deliver good and unique stories within the deadline. Always plan a few stories before you go for an interview. Don't just have the story idea in mind, plan exactly how you would cover it.
Try to impress your employer by highlighting the interesting angle that you intend to give your story. Have at least a couple of ideas ready.

→ Have Questions Ready

This one is not a journalism interview specific point, nevertheless it is very important. If at the end of your interview, the interviewer asks you, if you have any questions, do not sit quiet. You can inquire about the company hierarchy, the appraisal and promotion system. This will give the interviewer an impression that you have plans to work with the company for a long time.

→ Listen More than You Speak

Employers do not want to hire someone who is too aggressive and pushy. It is very essential that you listen patiently. As a journalist your main job is to get information and though you need to put forth the appropriate questions to get the right answers, no one wants to talk to someone who is not interested in listening.
If your questions are longer than the person's answers then you're probably interested in giving your own opinion and not really in getting the person's views.
Do not learn answers verbatim; you do not want to sound rehearsed. Take a few seconds if you need to, think about the question and answer confidently. Once you are able to answer confidently, half the battle is won. Do not lie about your qualification and experience. Moreover, dress appropriately and be on time.
From my interview experiences I have learned that you can never be sure whether you will get a job or not. Some interviewers might be rude and go to the extent of ridiculing you and a few days later you might get a call saying that you've got the job.
So, do not panic, give in your best and be confident. I hope these tips will help you in preparing for your interview. Best of luck!