They’re the sort of emails that can send you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Thank you for the application for the post of social media engineer. We’re delighted to offer you an interview next Tuesday. Please prepare a five-minute presentation on how you’d revitalise the Quiksnax savoury food brand’s Instagram presence in Outer Mongolia.
Or something like that.
Anyway, you’ve got a media job interview.
Once you’ve got over your initial panic: what next? How do you prepare?
Here are some thoughts, updated from a blog I wrote nearly three years ago, as our students, and their counterparts around the country, prepare for what could be the first big interview of their lives.
1. Do your homework
You need to make your interviewer think you’ve ate, slept and drunk their product, business, publication, website or media outlet in the last 72 hours. Maybe not even slept. If you’re really smart, they’ll already know you through work placements or networking. But if they don’t, make them your new Mastermind specialist subject. Flatter them with the extent of your research.
2. Make a memorable first impression
That first minute or so is crucial, however much of a cliche it sounds. Eye contact, a firm handshake, a genuine smile and a confident style all go a very long way. As do clothes which are smart but instantly forgettable.
3. Keep making an impression
Your goal is to make them think you’re someone they want on their team. Keep smiling. Not in a weird, inappropriate way. In a way that persuades them you’re a glass half-full radiator who’ll fit in and be a joy to work with. Demonstrate the passion and enthusiasm that you’ve written about in your CV. Bring the stuff about work placements and your own media projects to life.
4. Come armed with stories to tell
It’s election time, when politicians answer the questions they want to answer rather than the ones they’ve actually been asked. Take a leaf out of their book by finding slick ways to slip your anecdotes and examples into the conversation.
Have answers to predictable questions up your sleeve. If it’s a journalism job, be ready for ‘what’s the best story you’ve ever written’, ‘what apps do you use’, ‘who’s your best contact’ and ‘how would you go about getting to know the area’. And those chestnuts about a time when you had to overcome difficulty, or how your friends would describe you.
5. Ask a killer question yourself
Try to use your questions to show your skills and your commitment, and avoid working your way through a tedious list of administrative points. The best question I’ve come across recently is a cunning one: have you any feedback for me? Do you have any concerns about my ability to do this job? And ask them why they love working there.
Above all else, be confident without showing arrogance, and enthusiastic without becoming annoying.
In short, show the confident humility that is the hallmark of a great media professional.
And the very best of luck.