Interview

17 Journalist Interview Questions and Answers

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

Journalism is a critical part of our society, and good journalists are hard to come by. That’s why many employers interview potential candidates for journalist jobs. During a journalist interview, the interviewer will ask questions to assess your skills and see if you are a good fit for the job.

In this guide, you will find questions that are commonly asked in a journalist interview, as well as sample answers. The questions and answers in this guide can help you prepare for your interview and give you an idea of what to expect.

Are you comfortable working in high-pressure situations?

Journalists often work in high-pressure situations, such as covering breaking news or interviewing public figures. Employers ask this question to make sure you are comfortable working under these conditions and can handle the stress of the job. In your answer, explain that you have experience with pressure and know how to manage it. Share a story about a time when you worked under pressure and succeeded.

Example: “I am very comfortable working in high-pressure situations. I’ve been doing so for years now, and I feel like I’m pretty good at managing my stress levels. For example, last year I was assigned to cover a city council meeting where there were going to be some heated discussions. I knew that if I stayed calm and collected, I would be able to get great quotes from everyone involved.”

What are some of your greatest strengths as a journalist?

Journalists need to be able to work quickly and efficiently, so employers ask this question to make sure you have the skills necessary for the job. When answering this question, think about what your greatest strengths are as a journalist. Try to choose traits that will help you succeed in this role.

Example: “I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which helps me stay on top of deadlines. I also have excellent communication skills, which allows me to interview sources and write stories with accuracy. Another strength is my ability to remain calm under pressure. This skill has helped me produce quality journalism even when there’s a tight deadline.”

How do you stay up-to-date on current events and issues in your community?

Journalists need to be aware of what’s happening in their communities and around the world. Employers ask this question to make sure you have a passion for current events and that you’re willing to do your own research. In your answer, share two or three ways you stay informed about local and global news. Explain why these methods are important to you.

Example: “I subscribe to several different newsletters and email alerts from reputable sources. I also follow many journalists on social media who report on similar topics. This helps me learn more about the stories they’re working on and gives me an idea of which issues are most important to them. I think it’s important to keep up with current events because it can help me find new story ideas.”

What is your writing process like?

Journalists need to be able to write quickly and accurately. Employers ask this question to make sure you have a process that works for you. In your answer, explain how you plan out your stories and what tools you use to get the job done.

Example: “I start by researching my topic thoroughly. I like to read other articles on the subject and conduct interviews with experts in the field. Once I’ve gathered all of my information, I begin writing my article. I try to keep it as concise as possible while still including important details. After I finish writing, I proofread it one last time before submitting it.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to conduct an interview with a difficult or unwilling subject. How did you handle the situation?

Interviewing can be a challenging process, especially when you’re interviewing someone who is unwilling to answer your questions. Employers ask this question to make sure that you have experience with difficult interviews and how you handled them. In your answer, explain what steps you took to try to get the interview subject to open up. Explain that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the information you need for an article.

Example: “In my last journalism internship, I was assigned to write an article about a local politician. The politician had been in office for many years and wasn’t very interested in answering any of my questions. He kept telling me that he didn’t want to talk about his political views or past accomplishments. I tried asking him several different ways, but he still wouldn’t give me much information. Eventually, I decided to stop trying to get answers from him and instead focus on getting quotes from other people involved in politics.”

If you were given the opportunity to cover any story, what would it be? Why?

This question is a great way to show your passion for journalism and the stories you want to tell. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a story that has been in the news recently or one that you have followed closely. It’s also important to explain why you are passionate about covering this particular story.

Example: “If I were given the opportunity to cover any story, I would choose to cover the recent protests in my hometown. This story has been in the news lately, but I feel like there is more to the story than what we’re being told by the media. I think it would be interesting to get an inside look at these protests and find out exactly what is going on.”

What would you do if you learned about a breaking news story before your senior colleagues?

This question can help interviewers assess your ability to work with others and share information. Your answer should show that you understand the importance of teamwork and collaboration in journalism.

Example: “If I learned about a breaking news story before my senior colleagues, I would contact them immediately and ask if they wanted me to hold off on reporting it until they could get there. If they said yes, I would wait for them to arrive at the scene so we could report the story together. If they said no, I would proceed with reporting the story as quickly as possible while still maintaining accuracy.”

How well do you know the local area and its communities?

Journalists often need to know the communities they cover. They should be familiar with local politics, crime rates and other factors that affect a community’s residents. When you answer this question, try to show your knowledge of the area by mentioning some facts about it.

Example: “I grew up in this city, so I am very familiar with its neighborhoods. For example, I know which areas have high crime rates and which are more affluent. I also understand how the local government operates and who the major players are. As a result, I feel confident covering stories related to these topics.”

Do you have any experience writing for social media platforms?

Social media platforms are a growing area of journalism, and employers may ask this question to see if you have experience writing for these sites. If you do, share an example of how you wrote for social media and what your process was. If you don’t have any experience with social media platforms, explain that you’re willing to learn the platform and write for it if necessary.

Example: “I’ve written for several sports websites where I had to write short articles for social media. For instance, I would write a paragraph-long article for the website and then break it down into 140 characters or less for Twitter. I also learned how to use hashtags effectively in my posts so people could find them more easily.”

When reporting on a controversial issue, how do you remain neutral?

Journalists are often tasked with reporting on controversial issues. Employers ask this question to make sure you can remain neutral when reporting on these types of stories. Use your answer to show the interviewer that you have experience doing this in the past and how you do it.

Example: “I always try to report on controversial issues by remaining as objective as possible. I use my research skills to find facts about both sides of an issue. Then, I write my article or broadcast my story without taking a side. This helps me avoid any accusations of bias. If someone disagrees with my work, they may be able to find evidence for their own viewpoint.”

We want to improve our multimedia capabilities. Are you interested in shooting and editing video?

This question is a great way to determine if the candidate has experience with multimedia. It’s also an opportunity for you to see how they respond to change and new challenges. If you’re looking for someone who can adapt, consider hiring someone who says yes to this question.

Example: “I have some experience shooting video, but I’m not as comfortable editing it. However, I am willing to learn more about it. I think that learning something new would be exciting and beneficial to our publication.”

Describe your writing style and what you like to include in your articles.

Journalists write for a variety of audiences, so it’s important to be able to adapt your writing style. This question helps employers understand how you can adjust your writing style and what you enjoy writing about.

Example: “I like to include quotes from the people I’m interviewing because they help readers get a better understanding of their perspective. I also think it’s important to provide statistics or other evidence to support my claims. In my last position, I was covering a city council meeting where one member wanted to cut funding for a local youth program. I wrote an article that included statements from both sides of the issue, but I also provided data showing how much money the program saved the city each year.”

What makes you stand out from other journalists applying for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and how it relates to the position. They want to know what makes you unique, so share a story or two that highlights your skills as a journalist.

Example: “I have been writing for my local newspaper for five years now, but I started out in radio broadcasting. In both of these positions, I learned how to interview people and get them to open up to me. This skill has helped me write some great stories, including one where I interviewed a homeless man who had lost his family. He was reluctant at first, but after talking with him for an hour, he opened up and told me his life story. That story won me an award.”

Which journalism degree program did you complete and why did you choose it?

This question is a great way to show your knowledge of the field and how you’ve applied it. If you’re currently enrolled in a journalism program, be sure to mention that as well.

Example: “I completed my bachelor’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University because I wanted to learn from some of the best journalists in the industry. The school has an excellent reputation for producing top-notch journalists, and I was able to get hands-on experience with many different types of media outlets while completing my studies there.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of a journalist’s job?

This question is a great way to show the interviewer that you understand what it means to be a journalist. It also gives them insight into your values and how you would approach this job. When answering, think about what makes journalism important to you personally.

Example: “I believe the most important aspect of being a journalist is telling stories that are in the public interest. I am passionate about making sure people have access to information they need to make informed decisions. In my last role, I covered city council meetings where residents voiced their concerns about budget cuts. I was able to use my research skills to find out which programs were at risk for elimination. This allowed me to write an article that helped our community rally together to save those programs.”

How often do you update your skills through continuing education?

Journalists need to stay up-to-date on current events and trends. Employers ask this question to make sure you are committed to your own professional development. In your answer, explain how you plan to keep learning throughout your career as a journalist.

Example: “I am always looking for ways to improve my journalism skills. I have taken several online courses in the past few years that helped me learn new reporting techniques. I also subscribe to several industry publications so I can read about the latest news stories. I think it is important to be aware of what other journalists are doing so I can continue to develop my own style.”

There is a lot of competition for news stories. How would you differentiate yourself from other journalists?

Journalists are often competing for the same stories, so it’s important to show how you can differentiate yourself from other journalists. This is your chance to explain what makes you unique and valuable as a journalist.

Example: “I would differentiate myself by being more thorough than my competitors. I know that many news outlets rush their stories out before they’re ready, but I always make sure to do enough research to ensure that all of my facts are correct. I also think that I’m different because I have an eye for detail. I notice things that others may not, which helps me find interesting angles on stories.”

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