17 Assignment Editor Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an assignment editor, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

An assignment editor is the first person in the newsroom to know about a story. Once a tip comes in, it’s the assignment editor’s job to determine if it’s newsworthy and assign it to a reporter.

The job of assignment editor is fast-paced and ever-changing, which is why it’s important to be able to think on your feet and make quick decisions. If you’re looking for a job as an assignment editor, you can expect to be asked a variety of questions about your news judgment, ability to handle pressure, and knowledge of the news industry.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve compiled a list of sample assignment editor interview questions and answers.

Are you familiar with the types of stories that our publication produces?

The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have done your research on the publication and its content. It is important that you are familiar with the types of stories they publish, as well as the tone and style of writing. You can answer this question by mentioning a few different types of articles you read in their publication.

Example: “I’ve been reading your publication for years now, so I am very familiar with the types of stories you produce. Your publication produces many investigative pieces, which I find fascinating. I also enjoy the more lighthearted pieces about local businesses and events.”

What are some of the most important skills for an assignment editor to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. Use your answer to highlight some of the most important skills for an assignment editor and explain why they are so important.

Example: “The two most important skills for an assignment editor are communication and organization. As an assignment editor, I need to be able to communicate with my team members effectively and efficiently. This is because I am often receiving assignments from writers and other editors and need to make sure that everyone understands what needs to happen next. Organization is also very important as it allows me to stay on top of all of my tasks and ensure that deadlines are met.”

How do you keep track of all of the different stories that your reporters are working on?

The interviewer wants to know how you prioritize your work and keep track of deadlines. Your answer should show that you can manage multiple projects at once while still meeting the publication’s deadlines.

Example: “I use a project management software called Trello, which allows me to create different boards for each reporter I’m working with. Each board has lists for each story they’re working on, so I can see what stage each one is in. This helps me stay organized and ensure that all stories are moving along as expected.”

What is your process for assigning a story to a specific reporter?

An assignment editor’s job is to assign stories to reporters who are most qualified for the story. This question helps employers understand how you make these decisions and if your process aligns with their expectations. In your answer, describe a specific time when you assigned a story to a reporter. Explain why you chose that particular reporter for the story and what factors influenced your decision.

Example: “When I’m assigning a story, I first consider which reporter has the best qualifications for the story. For example, if it’s a breaking news story, I would assign it to a reporter who can get to the scene quickly. If it’s a more in-depth piece, I might assign it to a reporter who has experience writing similar pieces. After considering the qualifications of each reporter, I also take into account the preferences of the reporter. Some reporters prefer certain beats or types of stories.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to help a reporter overcome an obstacle while on assignment.

An assignment editor’s job is to help reporters complete their assignments. This question can allow you to show the interviewer that you are willing to go above and beyond for your team members.

Example: “When I was working as an assignment editor at a local newspaper, one of my reporters called me in a panic because she had lost her notes while on assignment. She was able to get most of the information back, but there were still some missing pieces. I talked with her about what she remembered from the story and helped her write up the rest of it. The reporter was able to finish her article before deadline.”

If a reporter was working on a story that was about to break, how would you notify the rest of the newsroom?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you would communicate with your team and other members of the newsroom. Use examples from previous experiences to show that you are a strong communicator who is able to work well in a team setting.

Example: “In my last role, I was working on a story about an upcoming election when one of our reporters called me to say they had just learned that the candidate we were covering had been arrested for drunk driving. We immediately sent out an email to the rest of the newsroom so everyone could start writing their own stories. The assignment editor also started calling editors to let them know what was happening.”

What would you do if you noticed that a reporter was consistently getting their facts wrong?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would handle a situation where you need to correct someone. In your answer, try to show that you value accuracy and are willing to speak up when needed.

Example: “If I noticed a reporter was consistently getting their facts wrong, I would first make sure they were aware of the issue. If they still continued to get things wrong, I would talk with my editor about what we could do to ensure the quality of the reporting. I would also consider whether there is another position within the publication that might be better suited for this person.”

How well do you work under pressure?

Assignment editors often have to work under tight deadlines. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle the pressure of working on a deadline. In your answer, share an example of a time when you worked under a tight deadline and how you managed it. Explain what steps you took to meet the deadline.

Example: “I am used to working under pressure because I’ve been doing it for years. When I was in college, I wrote for my school newspaper. We had weekly deadlines, so I got used to writing quickly but still making sure that my articles were well-researched and well-written. Now, as an assignment editor, I understand the importance of meeting deadlines while maintaining quality.”

Do you have experience managing a budget?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience with financial management. If you have budgeting experience, share a time when you had to manage a tight budget and how you did it. If you don’t have any budgeting experience, you can talk about the importance of having one in your role as an assignment editor.

Example: “In my previous position, I was responsible for managing our department’s budget. We were given a set amount of money each month that we could spend on freelance writers. To make sure we spent our budget wisely, I would create a spreadsheet where I listed all of our assignments and the cost per word for each writer. This helped me determine which writers were the most affordable and who we should hire first.”

When is it appropriate to send a reporter out on an assignment?

An assignment editor needs to be able to make decisions that are in the best interest of their publication. An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your decision-making process and how you use your judgment when assigning stories. In your answer, try to explain what factors you consider when deciding whether or not a reporter should go on an assignment.

Example: “I think it’s important to only send reporters out on assignments if they have enough time to complete the story before the deadline. If I know we’re going to need a story by 5 p.m., for example, then I would want to ensure the reporter has plenty of time to get all of the information needed for the piece. Another factor I take into consideration is the reporter’s availability. For instance, if I have two reporters who both can do the job but one is already booked for another assignment, then I might decide to send the other person out.”

We want to increase the diversity of our reporting staff. How would you go about doing that?

The interviewer may ask this question to see how you plan to help the publication achieve its diversity goals. Your answer should include steps you can take as an assignment editor to recruit and hire diverse writers for your publication.

Example: “I would start by reaching out to local journalism schools and offering internships or part-time work to students who are interested in writing. I’d also reach out to minority communities, like churches and community centers, to find freelance writers who might be interested in contributing to our publication. As an assignment editor, I could also make sure that we’re hiring a variety of reporters who represent different backgrounds.”

Describe your experience working with video production teams.

Video production teams often include a variety of different types of professionals, including assignment editors. An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience working with other team members and how you might fit into their company’s existing video production team. In your answer, try to highlight any specific skills or experiences that make you a good teammate.

Example: “I’ve worked on several large-scale projects where I had the opportunity to work alongside many talented individuals in various roles. For example, I once worked on a project for a local news station where we had a small video production team but still needed to produce multiple videos each day. To accomplish this, we divided up our responsibilities so everyone could focus on one aspect of the production process. This allowed us to complete all of our assignments while also learning from each other.”

What makes you an effective assignment editor?

This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you have the skills and experience necessary for this role. Use examples from your previous job or a time when you helped someone else with their work.

Example: “I am an effective assignment editor because I can quickly assess what information is missing from a story, find sources to fill in those gaps and make sure all of the facts are correct. In my last position, I was working on a story about a new restaurant opening downtown. The reporter had interviewed several people who were excited about the restaurant’s opening but hadn’t talked to anyone who was concerned about the parking situation. I called some local business owners to get their opinions and added them to the article.”

Which publication do you admire the most and why?

This question is a great way to show your knowledge of the industry and how you can contribute to an organization. When answering this question, it’s important to be honest about which publication you admire most but also explain why you admire them. This will help the interviewer understand what kind of work you enjoy doing and whether or not you would fit in with their team.

Example: “I admire The New York Times for its commitment to quality journalism. I think that newspapers are still relevant today because they provide readers with unbiased information. In my last role as an assignment editor, I worked hard to ensure all writers were providing accurate facts and sources within their articles.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of journalism?

This question is a great way to see how your values align with the publication you’re interviewing for. It’s also an opportunity to show that you have a strong understanding of journalism and what it means to be a journalist.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of journalism is truth. Journalists are in a unique position because we can tell stories, but we must do so accurately. We should always strive to report the facts as they happened without any bias or spin. I believe this is why people trust journalists—because we’re honest.”

How often do you think reporters should be sent out on assignment?

This question can help the interviewer understand your perspective on how much time reporters should spend in the office and how often they should be sent out to cover stories. Your answer can also show whether you have experience with managing a team of journalists.

Example: “I think it’s important for reporters to get out into the field as often as possible, but I also know that sometimes there are situations where they need to stay in the office. For example, if we’re expecting severe weather or if one of our photographers is out sick, then I would want my reporters to stay in the office so they could file their stories before the deadline. However, if there aren’t any extenuating circumstances, I would prefer to send them out on assignment as often as possible.”

There is a risk that a story will not be completed in time for the deadline. How would you react?

An interviewer may ask this question to understand how you handle stressful situations. They want to know that you can work under pressure and complete assignments on time. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to ensure the story is completed in time for publication.

Example: “I always make sure I have enough information to write a draft before the deadline. If I am unsure of something or need more time to research, I will contact my editor immediately. I also try to plan ahead so I don’t get stuck with an unexpected assignment at the last minute. When I do receive a late-breaking story, I make sure to prioritize it over other stories I’m working on.”


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