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Newspaper Columnist Interview
Questions

27 Questions and Answers by Christina Erne

Updated August 23rd, 2018 | Christina Erne is a meteorologist and a journalist at News 10 ABC in Albany, NY.
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Question 1 of 27
What is your experience with pagination?
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How to Answer
Newspapers use pagination to correctly format their piece to fit within the confines of a newspaper structure. The candidate should describe their knowledge of pagination and how to format their writing. This greatly benefits their chances of getting hired because pagination is a great skill that cuts down on the amount of work the newspaper editors will have to do in the long run.
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1.
What is your experience with pagination?
Newspapers use pagination to correctly format their piece to fit within the confines of a newspaper structure. The candidate should describe their knowledge of pagination and how to format their writing. This greatly benefits their chances of getting hired because pagination is a great skill that cuts down on the amount of work the newspaper editors will have to do in the long run.

Christina's Answer
"I used pagination all throughout college for our school newspapers. I have much experience with it and I think this will help save others from having to do my work."
2.
What do you hope to gain in this job?
Any good candidate is looking for a job that will ultimately make them better at what they do over time. The candidate should talk about how they plan to improve their skills over time and how this will make them a better worker in the future. They also may talk about their ability to take criticism to improve what they do.

Christina's Answer
"I hope that over the course of doing the job, I will learn to be a more concise writer. I believe people will take me more seriously when I write shorter pieces with more packed information in it."
3.
How do you describe your writing style?
The candidate should discuss what kind of writing style they use to write their columns. Perhaps they talk in the first or third person, or perhaps they use more modern terms in their columns. They should mention why they take this writing approach and how they believe it will be successful at this newspaper.

Christina's Answer
"My writing style is very modern to appeal to younger viewers since your newspaper is for a young demographic city with many colleges. I want to encourage college age students to read newspapers and I believe my opinion columns will intrigue them and get them started in reading newspapers."
4.
Why is this job right for you at this time?
The candidate should talk about why this job is a good fit for them based on their previous experience, and why they are choosing to take this route in their career at this time. They may talk about looking for a job closer to home, a job with less stress than reporting, or a job that allows them to have and outlet for their emotions and knowledge. They should discuss why this is the perfect time to begin a column.

Christina's Answer
"I believe this columnist job is perfect for me at this stage of my life because I am no longer able to be a doctor because of the long hours I had to work along with having a family. Being a columnist for a health newspaper allows me to give my expert advice and opinions while spending more time with family."
5.
What are your benefits expectations?
Columnists often get benefits other than salary for doing the job, such as a computer to do their work on, a car or gas stipend for driving, and parking. The candidate should talk to the interviewer about benefits they hope to receive based on the job they will be doing.

Christina's Answer
"Since I have to commute into the city each day for work, I would like to have my parking paid for, since this is too much money to spend on parking each day."
6.
Why do you want to write for this newspaper?
The candidate should discuss their particular interests, writing style, and topics they like to write about and how they work well with the newspaper they want to write for. They should show that their skills and writing topics work well with the kinds of stories and columns the newspaper has, and should show a knowledge of the kinds of people who read the newspaper in that area.

Christina's Answer
"I want to write for this newspaper because I grew up in this city and I learned so much from the columnists here when I was a child. Now I want to inspire others."
7.
How do you plan on getting readers to read your column each week?
The candidate should talk about how they will draw in readers, from marketing, to talking about their upcoming column on social media, to keeping their writing interesting and consistent. The hiring manager wants to pick someone who the public will be interested in following, and the candidate should have some ideas of how they plan on interesting the local audience.

Christina's Answer
"I love using social media to market my columns. I interact with readers online with live videos to see what they are excited about reading this week and I keep readers interested for the next column by this kind of advertising."
8.
What is your experience with social media?
Although a columnist's work appears on a publication in a newspaper, they may also later share their thoughts on it or the entire piece online for others to leave their comments. This way, they can see how the public is reacting to them and see what other topics they hope to see addressed in the column. Social media is a great new tool to reach a wider audience of people who may not live where the newspaper is produced, but still are interested in reading the column and reacting.

Christina's Answer
"I have been working with social media professionally for years and have already developed quite the following. I find that people like to respond to my columns online and that gives me a sense of what topics I should write more about."
9.
How do you work under stress?
While any job is subject to stress, being a columnist can be extra tricky because newspapers must be printed at certain times each day and week. A columnist must be assured they can meet the deadline of submitting their work, or their column will not get into the newspaper. The candidate should talk about their ability to get work done, even under time constraints and stress, so they never miss a deadline.

Christina's Answer
"I feel I do some of my best work under tight deadlines and stress. I am motivated to get it done and put all of my ideas down without filtering them or worrying about what people may think of me. I feel this makes me a better writer."
10.
How do you stay up to date with the latest world news?
A good columnist is up to date with everything going on in the world, and not just pertaining to their specific column. This way, they can tie in local events, or national news, to their pieces and show how their column has a greater importance. The candidate should discuss the sources they get news from and how they stay up to date throughout the week to have a deep understanding of what is going on day by day.

Christina's Answer
"I stay up to date using Twitter by following accredited sources and reading the newspaper. I like to read newspapers because they are very in depth and I can help my readers connect to what they read in the newspaper earlier in the week through my column."
11.
If you could start your career over, what would you do and why?
The candidate should talk about other careers that interest them. This gives the hiring manager insight into other skills they have, which may be beneficial to the job. The candidate should ultimately talk about why they chose the specific career of columnist, but should mention other paths they considered because of their skills.

Christina's Answer
"If I did not choose to be a columnist, I would have been a lawyer. I love to argue my case and find ways to outsmart the other side of the argument. While this is not the path I chose, I feel I am a stronger columnist because of my abilities to make my points of view clear and influence others to believe so as well."
12.
What credentials do you have to make people trust you?
The candidate should discuss why they feel their opinion in a column is warranted and what credentials they have to make people trust them. Whether they have formal education in a topic, have past professional experience, or just have proved their knowledge in a subject over time, they should have a good explanation of their experience in a given subject and why people will take them seriously.

Christina's Answer
"I got my doctorate in medicine years ago, and that is why I feel I am a good person to write a column on new and emerging medicines and medical technologies."
13.
What will your work add to our publication?
The candidate has the opportunity to talk about ways they hope to improve the quality and viewership of the publication. They may talk about previous work in adding viewers to a newspaper, or the ways they publicize their works so more people will tune in or read. They should discuss the ways they uniquely are able to make the publication grow and develop and how that will make the entire company stronger over time.

Christina's Answer
"I believe my upbeat attitude and interesting writing style and topics will draw in many people. I also think the way I encourage discussion online of my columns are a big hit."
14.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
The candidate should discuss where they plan to be in their career after doing the job for a few years. A hiring manager is looking for someone who plans on sticking around for a while and growing with the company, and the candidate should discuss where they see their career going in a few short years. Oftentimes columnists stay in the same job for many years to gain viewership and publicity.

Christina's Answer
"In five years from now, I see myself being a front page columnist in the Sunday Times. I believe by then I can be someone the whole public will know well and trust for information on the local community."
15.
Are you looking for a part time or full time job?
A column has a specific time slot or edition they write for, whether it is daily or weekly. The candidate should talk about what kind of column they hope to write as it fits in the job description, and should talk about whether their column fits best as a weekly one or a daily one. Typically those that make being a columnist their primary career and income will work daily full time, while those who are using it as a side job or a job for later in life may work part time.

Christina's Answer
"I am looking for this job to be a full time one. I am just in the height of my career and I have many people interested in what I have to say. Viewers are the ones who have encouraged me to become a columnist. Now I want to pursue my writing on these topics on a daily basis."
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27 Newspaper Columnist Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. What is your experience with pagination?
  2. What do you hope to gain in this job?
  3. How do you describe your writing style?
  4. Why is this job right for you at this time?
  5. What are your benefits expectations?
  6. Why do you want to write for this newspaper?
  7. How do you plan on getting readers to read your column each week?
  8. What is your experience with social media?
  9. How do you work under stress?
  10. How do you stay up to date with the latest world news?
  11. If you could start your career over, what would you do and why?
  12. What credentials do you have to make people trust you?
  13. What will your work add to our publication?
  14. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  15. Are you looking for a part time or full time job?
  16. What do you believe is your role in the community as a columnist?
  17. Do you prefer working in an office or at home?
  18. How do you work with an editing team?
  19. How do you combat negative feedback from viewers?
  20. What is your ultimate career goal?
  21. Why do you want to become a columnist?
  22. What are your salary expectations?
  23. What do you consider your specialty topic to write about?
  24. Why do you want to live in this city/state/community?
  25. Why do you believe you are a good fit for the job?
  26. What makes your writing unique?
  27. What do you like to write about?
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