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Newspaper Editor Interview
Questions

31 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Updated June 4th, 2019
Question 1 of 31
If you have a 300-page document that's a rush job and you must edit it by the end of the day, how would you approach the task to ensure timely delivery?
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How to Answer
To give the interviewer confidence that you're able to manage your time effectively, be specific about the exact actions that you would take to ensure that the objective is completed. Explain each action briefly by telling the interviewer why you're doing it in terms of what benefit you gain from the action.
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Top 30 Newspaper Editor Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
If you have a 300-page document that's a rush job and you must edit it by the end of the day, how would you approach the task to ensure timely delivery?
To give the interviewer confidence that you're able to manage your time effectively, be specific about the exact actions that you would take to ensure that the objective is completed. Explain each action briefly by telling the interviewer why you're doing it in terms of what benefit you gain from the action.

Ryan's Answer
"First, I do a quick reading of the document so that way I can get a general gist of the piece. That way I know what to expect in terms of style, pacing, and structure. On this first pass, I'll take any quick notes that come to mind immediately, but I don't pause to do any deep thinking until later.

Then I do a section-by-section reading. I start with the first paragraph and then read the last one to understand what the writer is trying to accomplish. I work backwards from the goal and see if the rest of the writing supports that goal. Next, I..."
2.
How would you handle sensitive writers who question every edit you make?
An editor is a leader and manager of people and must therefore show sound judgment of character as well as diplomacy.

A sensitive person will require patience and compassion in conjunction with firmness. This kind of person is best led through a combination of consent and firmness.

Explain your understanding of the underlying principle of how you should lead this kind of person. Then talk about what actions you would take, bearing in mind that there are always deadlines to meet.

Ryan's Answer
"A lot of writers are sensitive, which is understandable because they often put their heart and soul into it and they're doing the very best that they can. As an editor, I might be making tiny little edits on grammar and punctuation, which the writer might see as a slight. So I need to acknowledge their good work and the efforts they make. I might not have time to talk about every little edit, so I'll ask them to write down all their concerns so that we can have a meeting where we can talk about the newspaper's expectations and guidelines. That way we can meet the deadline and the writer still gets to be heard and understood."
3.
Tell me about your post-secondary education. What was your favorite course? Which was your most challenging?
The duties of a newspaper editor require strong attention to detail in the way that language is used. To choose your favorite course, think about a class where you enjoyed paying attention to the use of language. To choose your most challenging course, think about a class in which you made a big leap forward in your education as it relates to planning, revising, or reviewing written content.

Choose courses where you're able to demonstrate growth in areas that are important to the publication and department you're applying for. For instance, some newspapers may focus on politics while others may focus on local news, or you may be applying to edit for the food section or the human interest section. When possible, bring examples to life by relating them to benefits to the newspaper or department.

Ryan's Answer
"I really enjoyed my creative nonfiction course because it taught me many different ways to convey a single truth, which I think is going to be a great asset in the human interest pieces. And the most challenging course was poetry. In that class, I learned how to do close readings and how to give effective constructive criticism, which definitely will help the writers turn in their work faster."
4.
Give an example of a time when you had to edit or write a piece under a strict deadline. How did you ensure that you met the deadline?
Talk about your time management skills and any outstanding measures that you took, if applicable. Give details about your methods. End with a summary sentence that affirms that you'll be able to meet deadlines.

Ryan's Answer
"There's a concept called Parkinson's Law: tasks take as much time as you give yourself timeI always look at the deadline and I fool myself into thinking the deadline is one-third sooner than it really is. If a deadline is in three weeks, I'll make finish it in two weeks. If it's due in 3 days, I'll do it in 1 or 2 days. This makes me work much more efficiently. It also builds in extra time for me, just in case it really does take longer than my own deadline. That's how I make sure that I meet every deadline that I'm ever given."
5.
What would your previous supervisor say about your time management skills?
Many people may reflexively respond that they're excellent at something when they're asked what they themselves think of an ability of theirs. The interviewer is trying to get a better gauge of your time management skill by framing the question from an external perspective. It has the added benefit of assessing your integrity and your relationship with your superiors.

Be honest in your response. If your supervisor would say that you're good at time management, give a brief explanation of your methodology. If your supervisor wouldn't say that you're good at time management, say that your supervisor would say that you could use improvement, not that you're bad. Quickly move on to methods that you have learned and applied. Show that it's the things that you're bad at that you become the most consciously proficient at. End your response assuring the interviewer of your time management skill by saying that these methods are what enable you to meet your deadlines.

Ryan's Answer
"My supervisor would tell all of the editors and writers that they need to improve their time management skills. I took that to heart and I read a lot about time management systems and methods. One method that's helped me improve by leaps and bounds is the Pomodoro method. I use a timer that ticks to remind me to stay on task, and I have built-in breaks to keep my mind fresh and efficient. That's one of the ways that I manage to meet all my deadlines."
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