Four students (including me) went through mock interviews in front of an audience at Michael Koretzky’s session, “Nervous as Hell: Mock (Or Maybe Real) Job Interviews for New Grads” on Saturday. Koretzky, an editor for Debt.com, grilled the students with questions, stopping them to offer constructive criticism when they stumbled.
Here are four takeaways from the critiques:
- When your interviewer asks you to name some publications you read, don’t mention just one type, such as sports news. If your first publication is “Bleacher Report,” don’t say “ESPN Magazine” next. Answer with something different that you read, such as the “Washington Post” or “Slate.” If you only read up on one topic, it’s time to diversify!
- Often times, less is more. When providing more information about yourself and what makes you stand out, aim for brevity and concise points. This was a personal lesson during my own critique when I began rambling a bit while reciting vivid details from an interesting article I had read in Vanity Fair. While I thought the information was fascinating, the perils of the interviewer potentially losing interest in the overall conversation might jeopardize snagging the job. Communicate with confidence and clarity, but stick to the most important talking points — you.
- News professionals tend to operate with an exceptionally strong B.S. detector. Don’t go there. When your interviewer asks if you’re familiar with “x” or “y” thing, don’t lie if you don’t know what it is. Just be honest, because you might just get asked next to expand on your “yes” answer.
- When your interviewer asks you to describe a challenge you overcame — or, as Koretzky calls it, a “war story”– he encourages interviewees to “embrace the chaos.” Small, strange things that have happened to you in a newsroom, or a time when you took charge and changed the direction of a total mess in a newsroom, are perfect for answering this question.