Job Interview Questions by Bob Haiman, President Emeritus, The Poynter Institute


As told to Karen Iwamoto, former Ka Leo O Hawai`i editor

West Hawaii Today Reporter

Questions You Might Get

There are a lot of interesting careers available to smart young college graduates. Why would you want to be a newspaper journalist with its relatively low pay and bad working hours?

I’ll be interviewing lots of other candidates today. What is it about you that sets you apart? Why should I hire you?

If I hire you, what job on my paper do you think you are qualified to do the first week you are on staff?

As you look at your career in journalism, what do you want to be doing three years from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?

What is the best story you ever wrote? What made it special to you?

Do you think you’re a better reporter or writer? What are you doing to improve the one you think you are weaker in?

Who are your three favorite journalists. . . .the ones you admire the most? What is it about their work that earns your admiration (Describe a particular story they wrote.)

Questions you could ask (Always have questions to ask)

Every good newspaper has a few things that distinguish it from other newspapers. What are the special qualities of your newspaper?

I’m pretty good for this stage in my career, but I also know that I have a lot more learning and growing to do. What do the assigning and copy editors at your newspaper do to help young staff members learn and get better?

Every editor has a different style. What is your style as the leader of this newspaper’s staff?

What are the values of this newspaper that you most want the staff to care about?

If you were to hire me, what is the typical job path that I might follow for the next two, three years?

You may also ask recruiters which journalists and newspapers they admire, what editors they admire.

(You never know what editors might ask. The editor of the West Hawaii Today had me interview him and his staff and then write a story based on the interview. I had prepared beforehand; looking up its circulation, some of its history, and some statistics about small newspapers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.