editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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How not to get that journalism-related job

April 19th, 2008 · 4 Comments

Over the years, I’ve interviewed my fair share of candidates. And while the positions I’ve been hiring for have changed and the candidates have varied, here are five areas that keep my head shaking in disbelief.

So consider these points as either observations or, if you’re looking for a job, words of caution:

  1. No One is Perfect

I don’t care if you really believe that you have never missed a deadline or that your work has never needed to be edited; don’t highlight those points. When I come across a cover letter or resume that emphasizes perfection, it’s typically a bee line to the reject pile. In my eyes, there’s no such thing as a perfect performance and that view just indicates a dangerous detachment.

  1. I’ll Do Anything For You

Even if the song lyrics are stuck in your head, I wouldn’t recommend offering the phrase during an interview. I understand that the job market is tough and I can appreciate that you may be working at a job that you just can’t wait to leave. But when you come in for an interview, it is for a specific job and offering to do anything can raise questions about your suitability for the job in question.

  1. Listen to Yourself

All too often, I come across candidates who get so relaxed during interviews that they drop their guard and say things that they SHOULD regret, like: I don’t read newspapers; I don’t have Internet access at home; or this is a dying industry. Remember, it is an interview and not a friendly chat, watch your words.

  1. Done It All

Even if you have “done it all” give yourself a focus. Organize your experience to reflect the job you’re applying for. You want the interviewer to picture you in the job and not floating from position to position.

  1. Ban the smileys and hearts

Thank you notes following an interview are definitely appropriate and are an easy way to keep the interviewer thinking about you, but remember to keep it professional. I don’t find sentences that end with smiley faces or heart-dotted letter I’s letters funny.

I’m sure there are lots of other tips that either you might have or candidate-related snafus that you have come across, if so, please do share.

Tags: Careers · Editor on the verge · Editor on the Verge · Industry · Interviews · Resume

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark Dykeman // Apr 19, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Good advice for virtually any job candidate!

  • 2 Pat Thornton // Apr 20, 2008 at 11:19 am


    This is a fantastic post, especially for recent grads or soon-to-be grads. I’m thinking of writing a little something about it.

    Good to see you blogging again. How is the new job treating you/

  • 3 The Journalism Iconoclast » Five interview mistakes that can easily be avoided // Apr 22, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    […] Greenbaum made a post about “How not to get that journalism-related job.” All of the mistakes he lists can easily be avoided by just being a savvy job seeker. And if […]

  • 4 Charlie Beckett // Apr 27, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    This is good advice because it is not too prescriptive. I can’t believe how many people turn up for interviews and then tell you stuff like they are not sure if they want the job, or that they dont like news etc.
    Of course, those hiring have to keep an open mind too!

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