TV News Job Interviews:
You’re being judged before you walk through the door
Written by News Gal
🕒 February 20, 2018
You can always tell when it’s happening.
Your boss is smiling more than usual and your coworkers are acting friendlier than they were the day before. At first, you can’t quite put your finger on what’s different, but then, you spot it. There’s a job candidate in town.
We’ve all been there. Every single one of us has been the person going through the TV news job interview process.
If you’ve made it to the station, you’ve done well.
It means your reel stood out, you nailed your phone interview, and you’re a finalist for the job.
If you’re lucky, the news director didn’t let any of the other reporters, anchors, or producers know you were coming. If he or she did let them know, hopefully they didn’t tell them your name. Why?
Because if a room full of news people know someone is coming in for a job interview they start stalking you online. Seriously. I’ve done it.
They track down your resume reel, check out your social media, and go to your current station’s website to see how long you have been there and what you do. If they have any friends in common with you, you better believe they’ve already sent them a text message asking what you’re like.
They’ve already judged you before you walk in the door.
Here’s the thing though. It goes both ways.
As an interviewee, you should do your homework too. You should watch the newscasts the night before and the morning of the interview. You should read the online biographies of the reporters and anchors at the station.
You should be learning about them, just like they are learning about you.
After all, a good reporter does his or her homework, right?
Reading through the biographies will help you find out if you have a connection with any of the current staff members.
Maybe you went to the same college as the main anchor. Maybe the lead reporter is a member of the same fraternity or sorority. Those are good connections to have and can help you during and after the interview process.
Every interview I’ve been on has started with the morning meeting.
It’s always kind of awkward sitting there as reporters are pitching their story ideas for the day. At some point the pitches stop and you are faced with a dilemma: Do you pitch a story or do you just sit there quietly?
If you have a story idea that’s relevant to the station brand and the community, go for it! If you’re going to pitch something ridiculous just because you feel like you should, don’t do it.
I’ve pitched a story at a job interview and a reporter turned it that day. I’ve sat quietly during the morning meeting and not added anything to the discussion. I was offered both jobs.
After the morning meeting the news director might let you roam around the newsroom.
He or she wants to see how you interact with the other employees and wants you to ask questions. Hopefully you’ll pick some friendly people to talk with and they’ll answer your questions as honestly as they can in the newsroom.
Pay attention to how people are acting when they don’t think you’re noticing.
Try your best to figure out what the newsroom is actually like on a regular day, not an “interview” day when everyone is on their best behavior.
It’s always a good idea to get a personal email or cell phone number of someone (not a manager) you really connect with during the interview. If you have questions after the interview, you can call, text, or email and they’ll be more likely to be honest when they’re not within earshot of the boss.
I’ve had several job candidates ask if they can contact me after the interview, and I always say yes.
You’ll meet with the news director, assistant news director, general manager, and others. It can be overwhelming. You’ll answer the same questions over and over again, but make sure you do it with a smile each time.
I’ve had friends who have had to do live shot tests on job interviews. I’ve peeked over my computer monitor as interviewees have had to log an interview and put together a package. I’ve sat next to an extremely nervous man as he tried out to be my co-anchor. I’ve gotten so nervous my palms were sweating while taking a current events quiz at an interview.
You never know what the news director is going to throw at you. Be ready for anything.
If you’re like me, you probably didn’t sleep well the night before. Hopefully the station put you up in a nice hotel, but even the fluffy pillows and perfect mattress can’t save you from job interview nerves.
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning. Make sure you have a couple of different outfits that you can wear. I’ve spilled orange juice down the front of me minutes before a news director was picking me up. Thank goodness for a backup dress!
You should also have your hair and makeup done and camera ready.
You have no idea when they’ll ask you to do an on-camera test, and believe me, you want to look your best.
Remember that even though you’re the interviewee, you are interviewing the station, too.
Ask questions. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, it probably isn’t a good fit. Never feel like you have to say yes just because they paid for your plane ticket and hotel room.
I walked away from a job offer that other people would have loved because I could tell I would not be happy at the station. You spend a big chunk of your life working– make sure it’s the best fit possible.
My best advice is to be yourself and be confident.
The news director obviously likes you, so show them that you’re even more of a rockstar than they anticipated.
Oh, and send a handwritten thank you note. Have it with you and put it in a mailbox before you leave town or as soon as you get home. If the job is between you and another candidate who is equally as talented, that small gesture just might help push you over the edge!