A newly minted Boston Content member recently asked me for job advice. As a long-time freelance writer, she hadn’t gone through the traditional interview process in a while and wanted tips on how to land a position as a brand journalist.
The email I wound up sending resembled a blog post, so now it is one! Here was my response.
I have a phone call scheduled. How can I prepare?
1. Comb the company’s website and take notes. What kind of customers do they work with? What kind of content are they producing? Are there any gaps you can identify that you could help with, such as a customer success series or podcast interviews?
2. Check out related websites or industry publications. This might inspire ideas for articles to pitch on the phone, which will demonstrate you understand the space and can take initiative.
3. Create a fill-in-the-blank that will help you understand your role in the organization and speak about the company intelligently:
I’m interviewing at [name of company], a business that [name the service it provides or products it sells] for [name the types of companies it works with and/or verticals they fall under]. Since [name of company] is a [category of business], they are concerned with [name the goals of their content; this could be driving awareness, leads, purchases, etc.].
What are common interview questions I might encounter?
Have a friend read you the following prompts. Even if you’re asked different questions, practicing will make you more relaxed and confident with your responses on the big day.
1. Why do you want to work here? (Pro tip: Make sure your answer is specific to the company. The question is not, "Why do you want to work at a company like ours?" It's, "Why do you want to work here?" The more specific you are, the better of a fit you'll sound like.)
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
3. Name a professional accomplishment you are proud of.
4. How do you respond to deadlines and pressure?
5. What management style do you prefer?
6. Where do you get your writing ideas?
7. How do you stay organized?
8. How do you determine whether your content is successful?
Do you have any interview tips?
- Do tons of research on the company, so you have talking points about a keynote speech the CEO gave or a recent webinar they ran. Also research who will actually be interviewing you so you can bring up what you have in common and display the depth of your commitment to the position.
- Come up with five to 10 questions to ask each interviewer. This shows you have a lot of interest in the company.
- Practice with someone using the common questions listed above. This is the No. 1 thing that will help you feel at ease in an otherwise stressful scenario.
Day of the Interview
- Bring a notebook and pen so you can jot down things you learn and details you can include in your follow-up.
- Have your questions on hand.
- Shake hands firmly.
- Smile often.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Bring up concrete examples whenever relevant that highlight how you handled work situations that will likely occur if you land the job.
- If you talk to more than one person, don't be afraid to repeat what you say.
- At the end, ask for a business card and about what the next steps will be.
After the Interview
- Follow up with an email or a physical thank you note (this should be for your interviewer, as well as the hiring manager if appropriate).
- Check in after three to five business days if you haven't heard anything from the company.
Coming from a freelance lifestyle, searching for and landing a full-time position can be intimidating. Though you may be solid in your writing and editing abilities, acing an interview requires an entirely new set of skills. Just remember: the more you prepare, the more you’ll be able to let your personality shine.
If you have an interview coming up, best of luck! And if you have any additional tips, please share them below.