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Job interview questions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    Mods, you can lock/delete this if this should go inside the Job advice thread, but I thought this was worthy of its own thread.

    Yesterday at an interview, the sports editor asked me a few questions I hadn't been asked before. I had prepared myself by looking over all of my clips and finding some talking points about different approaches, etc.
    • Have you ever broken a story?
    • What's the strangest sport you've ever covered?
    • Have you ever had a story that got bad publicity, and how did you handle it?

    Anyone else have any strange questions? I figure those interviewing for jobs could use this thread as a way to handle the oddball questions that come up with interviews.
  2. I don't know what value there is in the strangest sport question (unless it's just to see if you can handle new things), but I think the other two are great questions.
  3. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    Strangest sport: American football. The game makes no sense.

    I love it though. I'm American, after all.
  4. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    I wrote for a lacrosse publication that gave me an assignment to cover a Univ of Texas assistant lax coach and his rodeo background. He had been a rodeo cowboy, so that was my answer. The rodeo.

    Then my interviewer yesterday asked me: "So, what did you learn about the rodeo?"
    And I said: "It's better to be the cowboy than to be the cow."

    He ate it up.
  5. That's a pretty good answer (about the cow).
  6. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    Sweet. Up until now, I didn't know UT even had a lacrosse team. I'll probably forget this info by the morning too. But still....sweet.
  7. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    Club team, not D-1. Still, an interesting story.
  8. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    When I was interviewing people to fill positions (online production/development, not newsroom), I'd ask the standard questions related to education and work experience to give the candidate a chance to get comfortable during the interview.

    Then, I'd start throwing in some totally unrelated questions -- What's the last book you read, what was your favorite vacation trip, etc. -- to see how well they handled changing gears on the fly.

    I probably unnecessarily DQ'd a few capable candidates because they stammered and stuttered over the change-up questions, but an awfully high percentage of people who handled those questions well turned out to be good hires for us.

    I contrast that with our web development director, who more or less limited his interviewing to questions related to technical skills. HR and second interviews with upper management weeded out some of his clunkers, but he still ended up hiring a high percentage of folks with very poor people skills who subsequently washed out too quickly.
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    And I thought my favorite question to ask, "why did you pick the clips you chose" was a good question. Darn.
  10. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    I can see the "chang up" question being a good way to test an applicant, but, yeah, you can weed out some top notch guys and even worst, let some idiots pass through the cracks. Granted, you'd hopefull figure out they were idiots anyway, but we all have met the guy who can talk about anything and will, just to hear himself talk, no matter how much BS he gives you.

    And dammit Jay Sherman, I had already forgotten about the team. Great, now its permanently lodged in my brain.
  11. Michael Echan

    Michael Echan Member

    I don't think you could have come up with a better response.

    IMO, I would think it would be essential to have those change-up questions. If you're going to hire someone, you need to see their ability to adapt on the fly and measure (to some degree) their social skills. The candidate might an ace as a reporter, but is otherwise socially inept.
  12. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    The questions I always hate are:

    What are you better at, writing or reporting?


    What is your biggest weakness?
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