Thursday, August 22, 2013

The secret interview test

(Okay, I saw the bat signal last night that told me you guys need help and knew I hadn't posted in awhile, so here goes.)

Most job interviews are pretty standard, and they fall into simple categories. There's the courtesy interview, in which you get maybe a half hour of the News Director's time. Then there's the serious interview, which might include a plane ticket, a hotel room, lunch, dinner, and several hours at the station.

It usually includes something very subtle designed to find out how you'd fit in.

Look, if you're going to spend the better part of the day at a station, you're not going to be sitting in the ND's office all the time. He's got other things to do. So after your interview, a meeting with the GM, a tour, lunch, and maybe a current events or writing test, you'll be subjected to a very important part of the interview process.

You'll be dropped in the newsroom for a few hours.

Generally the ND will say he's got things to do, so would you mind hanging out for awhile. He'll go off to do whatever after dropping you at an empty desk, and all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a bunch of strangers. You have no idea if they know who you are or why you're there. (Trust me, they know.)

How you react to this "test" can make or break a job offer.

I've seen job applicants react in two ways. Some sit at the desk and read, surf the net on the computer, and kill time until the ND comes back.

What the ND hopes you'll do is wander around the newsroom and talk to everyone you can.

Because after you're gone, he's gonna ask members of the staff what they thought of you. Was she friendly? Did she fit in? Does she seem smart, driven? Does she really want to be a journalist or simply "be on TV?"

In this situation, you must keep in mind that you're still on your interview, even though it's informal. Anything you do during that time you're dropped in the newsroom will more than likely get back to the ND and be factored into his decision. So it behooves you to be as friendly and interesting as possible.

While your tape got your foot in the door, it's important that you fit in with the rest of the staff. The ND would rather have someone with a little less talent that fits rather than someone with more talent who doesn't.

A successful news team is like a family. Make sure you act like you want to be a part of it.

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