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Journalist Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Published January 27th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
In a world filled with fake news, how do you ensure the legitimacy of your sources?
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How to Answer
Ensuring that your sources are legitimate is a massive part of your success and reputation as a journalist. There are so many accounts of lousy reporting, fake news, and illegitimate sources these days, so you must share with the interviewer what you do to avoid this embarrassing mistake from happening to you.
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1.
In a world filled with fake news, how do you ensure the legitimacy of your sources?
Ensuring that your sources are legitimate is a massive part of your success and reputation as a journalist. There are so many accounts of lousy reporting, fake news, and illegitimate sources these days, so you must share with the interviewer what you do to avoid this embarrassing mistake from happening to you.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"One of my fast and firm rules is that I never allow for the use of anonymous sources. This rule has saved me from many embarrassing instances where I could have irresponsibly reported fake news. If I have to grant anonymity to a source, there is a lot of due diligence that must occur first."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I always as myself if a source is credible and knowledgable before I lean on them for anything. Also, I make sure that my editors are on board and fully satisfied that my source is reliable. This decision isn't a one-person decision most of the time. Everything from a source is pre-verified before any publication or broadcast."
2.
If you could write about anything, which topic would you choose and why?
The interviewer would like to know if the topics that interest you the most are a match with the pieces they will ask you to write. Be sure to respond in a way that compliments the hiring company's area of focus. For instance, if they are a sports publication, you would want to refrain from saying that you only like writing on topics related to politics. Be truthful and also tie your answer in with the work that you will be doing in this position.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I was thrilled to see your job posting for a sports writer because I live and breathe sports. I have played many sports competitively and write a sports blog in my spare time. If I could write about anything, I would choose to focus on stories of athletes who have overcome incredible obstacles, to reach their goals."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I like to write pieces related to history, government, and our country's political past. These topics resonate with the majority of people, including your readership, which I understand to be professionals, aged 38+. It's important to me that my pieces educate and teach while helping people to understand the social and economic issues that are most pressing today."
3.
Name 3 qualities you include in every story you write.
The interviewer would like to see that you understand what makes a great story, or article. Most writers agree that some of the essential components of a well-written piece include a firm story structure, compelling characters, and consistent style or tone. Be prepared to discuss what you believe every great story should contain.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I think that every story should contain characters that people can relate to, a storyline that is easy to follow and well planned, as well as a clear setting that can be imagined by the reader. When I write a story or an article, it's important that the reader can place themselves smack dab into the middle of the story."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Consistency in tone is crucial. No matter the piece that I am writing, the reader must feel that there is a consistent message. Compelling characters or at least a setting that the reader can relate to is also essential. Third, I always ensure that there is a plot where we see a struggle, and then the overcoming of that conflict or challenge."
4.
In what type of situations is it better to stretch the truth to sell a story?
Journalism, the news, the media - everyone stands accused of sensationalizing details to gain traction on a story. The interviewer would like to know if you would stretch the truth to sell a story or to have it go viral. Of course, you already know that it is not okay to lie in an article or publication. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to sell stories without stretching the truth.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel that if you need to stretch the truth to sell a story, you probably aren't a natural writer or journalist. If you know what you're doing and understand your audience, there should be no need to stretch the truth. Honesty is always the best policy."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am not in the habit of stretching the truth. I believe that fact-based journalism is the best route. I would not want to make an important decision with any information loosely based on fact, so I would not do the same to my readership."
5.
Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?
Median pay can be difficult to gauge in journalism roles so the interviewer may have some questions regarding your earnings and salary expectations. The interviewer would also like to know if you feel undervalued in your current position. Many employees will look for new work if they think that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Of course, this potential new employer wants to ensure that they will make you a competitive offer that will entice you to join their organization, and stay there.

Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you feel it is fair. Be sure to have researched your answer to back you up, versus throwing out a random number and hoping it will stick.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position. I would like to see an increase in pay, by about 15%, plus an increase in responsibilities and growth opportunities."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am currently with a start-up agency, so I am certain that I am not paid my worth in base salary, but I do receive a great number of perks including free lunches, a couple of trips per year, an option to work from home, and a health spending account. The perks are great, but I do know that someone with my skill set is worth more, speaking solely in base pay."
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