"You're the worst one I've ever interviewed"
...and other things I've picked up while interviewing for the job
By Mark Grabowski
Graduation looms and many soon-to-be journalism school alumni are scrambling to land a job. With limited opportunities, competition is fierce, and interviewing skills may make or break a candidate.
Reporters may be in the business of interviewing people. But when they're in the hot seat, it can be a traumatic experience. Especially if it's a job interview.
I know I haven't always made the best first impression.
When I interviewed at the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, I arrived two hours late. Despite the fact that I was in my hometown, I somehow got lost driving there. To make matters worse, as I was leaving, I accidentally hit a reporter's car -- with the hiring editor watching.
Needless to say, I didn't get that job.
At a job interview in Washington, D.C., the topic of politics naturally came up. I was highly critical of a certain lawmaker. The interviewer then revealed that was his nephew I was talking about.
Didn't get that job, either.
A Providence Journal editor seemed equally unimpressed with my interview skills.
"Over the years, I've interviewed about 300 journalists for jobs here," he told me. "And it's safe to say, you're the worst one I've ever interviewed."
I became physically sick immediately after that interview. You can imagine my consternation when I was offered the job two weeks later.
So, if an interview goes bad, don't despair. Sometimes people surprise you. While making a good impression is important, many hiring editors will admit than an interview is just one of many things they consider when deciding whether to hire a reporter.
As you interview, you'll figure out what's the best approach for you. Of course, the more you interview, the better you will get at handling interviews.
In the meantime, take a look at the tips in the sidebar to help ensure that your interviews go better than mine.