5 crucial tips for being interviewed

June 23, 2016 By    

This is part two of a two-part series on interviews. This part of this series covers being interviewed – for both a job and an article, while the first part covers conducting an interview.


Photo credit: stevebustin via Hackers / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: stevebustin via Hackers / CC BY-ND

Before you step into an interview – whether for a job or an article – keep these five tips in mind.

1. Create a portfolio

Be sure to assemble all of your best work – including your résumé, references and whatever other materials apply to the position – in a portfolio case. Keeping your best work organized in a portfolio case or binder not only shows your preparedness, but also shows a level of professionalism that’ll impress the employer.

“I look for many different qualities while interviewing candidates for positions with Ferrellgas,” says Kimberly Johnston, full cycle recruiter for the national retailers. “First is the qualification piece: making sure their qualifications align with the requirements of the job. This includes asking a variety of questions specific to the skillset required. For example, [I’ll ask to] describe your experience with budget management. Secondly – and this is a huge piece – I look for cultural fit. I always look for someone with a positive outlook, extremely high level of integrity, self-motivation and open-mindedness to a team environment. Since we are employee owners, I also look for a high level of accountability.”

If a journalist is interviewing you for a news article or feature, bring extra relevant materials to the interview, such as photos or important documents. It could save you time in the future and strike up interesting conversation.

2. Research your subject

Whether you’re being interviewed for a job position or an article, it’s imperative you research the company and people interviewing you.

When interviewing for a job position, make sure you research the company as much as you can. It’s important to know exactly what the company does, as well as its brand, clients and employees. Gain an understanding of the industries the company represents and of its core values. Employers may ask you specific questions about the company, and knowing those answers shows your commitment to the job and foreshadows a strong work ethic.

When you’re being interviewed for a news article or feature, understanding the subject helps you draw inspiration for what types of answers you might give. For example, if you’re being interviewed for an article in an outdoor magazine, and you’re asked about your favorite hobbies, you’ll want to focus on activities like running or biking, rather than watching movies. Although, of course, it’s important to answer the question as thoroughly as possible, even if your answers don’t relate to the question asked. It will help you prepare for the questions you’ll be asked, and it’ll even help ignite natural, comfortable conversation.

3. Prepare questions to ask

In both interview cases be sure to prepare questions to ask the employer or reporter. In the case of interviewing for a job interview, focus on the position you’re gunning for and your future in the company. Some important questions can include:

  • What kind of experience will I gain in this position?
  • Is there room to move up in the company?
  • How much has the company grown in the past five years?

In the case you’re interviewed for an article, these are some imperative questions to ask:

  • Where will this article be featured?
  • What kind of audience typically reads these articles?
  • How can I help the readers further build an understanding of the article subject?

“I would characterize a good interview as being able to picture that person being a part of the organization when the conversation is over,” Johnston says. “When candidates ask questions relating to long-term tenure (benefits, retirement, etc.), it makes me feel like they are picturing themselves here for the long haul. It’s always positive when a candidate asks about culture, opportunity for advancement, etc., as it tells me they are looking for a home – not just a job.”

It also doesn’t hurt to take notes during an interview. Write down the employer or reporter’s answers to these questions to keep for future reference. It’ll force you to listen, rather than let your mind drift off.

4. Stay composed

A lot of people tend to get nervous during interviews. Make sure to take a deep breath to avoid stuttering and nervous ticks, such as shaking your leg or picking at your nails. Maintain eye contact with the subject – it shows professionalism and your ability to take control of the conversation.

Additionally, avoid using words like “um” and “actually.” According to an article by Time Inc., “For the experienced listener, ‘actually’ is a dead giveaway of an area that at the least needs to be further investigated, and may point at a deception.”

Finally, don’t let your nervousness spark negative conversation.

“A bad interview may include a level of deceit which could pertain to many things: their résumé is not accurate or exaggerates responsibility, reasons for leaving former companies do not add up, etc.,” Johnston says. “A negative outlook or aggression can make for an unpleasant interviewing experience. One should always avoid bashing a former company or speaking openly negative about a former position or coworker.”

5. Say thank you

Saying “thank you” for these two types of interviews is a bit different.

When you’re interviewing for a job, be sure to write a handwritten thank-you note or an email to those who interviewed you. (Note: Don’t forget to exchange business cards, or at least ask for theirs if you don’t have one!) Be sure to do this the day of your interview or the day after. The immediacy of the “thank you” helps to express your true interest in the position.

When you’re being interviewed for an article, the reporter will typically send you a thank-you note or email first, in which you can respond politely. If you don’t hear anything from the reporter within the first few days, you can follow up with a thank-you email.


What are the key characteristics you look for in a job candidate? Let us know in the “Post a Comment” section below!

Allison Barwacz

About the Author:

Allison Barwacz is the digital media content producer for LP Gas magazine. Contact her at abarwacz@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3796.

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