Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The reverse interview

A few people have recently asked about interviews; specifically, what questions to ask when the ND invariably says, "So, do you have any questions for me?"

Most people get caught off guard by this, stammer and say, "Uh, no."

But this is not only a good way for you to get some good information, but show that you're interested in more than furthering your own career. It also shows you're a curious person, and considering we're in the business to dig up stuff, that's a good thing.

And, some questions might turn up a few red flags as well.

So, when you get this question, try some of these.

"How did you get into the business?" Ah, nothing gets a ND's ego going like talking about his own career. You'll get brownie points for this one. Don't forget to use the husband-tuning-out-wife-bobblehead as you listen to what may be a long and drawn out story.

"What's your news philosophy?" Always a good way to find out if you'll be doing real stories or chasing car wrecks.

"What is your feeling on one man bands?" These days, this is a critical question. You'll probably get a definite answer one way or the other. If you hear something like, "Well, you might have to pick up a camera once in a while, but I don't see that happening too often," that's a red flag. A statement like that is right up there with, "Elin, honey, I'm just going out with the guys to hit a bucket of balls."

"What happened to the person I'm replacing?" Always good to know if the person moved up the ladder, quit, or was pink slipped. If the answer is, "We can't discuss personnel matters," that's a red flag. It might not reflect badly on the ND, but you need to find out the answer.

"Do you give regular feedback?" The biggest complaint I hear from people is that they never hear anything from management unless it's bad. You always want a mentoring environment, even if you're experienced.

Remember, keep your end of the interview casual. Be a good conversationalist, be interested in what the ND has to say, and act like you want to be part of a team rather than just someone who is looking for a stepping stone.

Finally, do a little homework on the ND before your interview. Find out where the ND is from and where he's worked. Sometimes managers are on the way down, or move around as much as reporters do. If you've got a ND born in Florida who is working in South Dakota, you can bet there will be resumes going out of his office as well,

No comments: