46 Journalist Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When preparing for an interview, it's helpful to review the questions you can expect during your meeting. There are many areas a hiring manager may cover when interviewing you for a journalist position. Understanding potential questions can help you prepare effectively for your journalism interview. In this article, we discuss common journalist interview questions, along with sample answers for several of them.

General questions during a journalism interview

During the first part of your interview, the hiring manager often asks general questions to build rapport and begin the conversation. These are typically high-level questions to help you open up and show your personality. Several general interview questions may include:

  • Why do you want to work for our organization?

  • What topics are you interested in covering for our publication?

  • How would you improve our publication?

  • What do you read in your personal time?

  • What do you think are the essential qualities of a successful journalist?

  • Who do you think our competitors are?

  • Who do you look up to as a role model in journalism?

  • What makes your writing style unique?

Education and training questions

When applying for a journalism position, the hiring manager may ask questions specific to your academic background and training. The interviewer uses these questions to evaluate your formal training in journalism, interviewing, and writing. Several questions they may ask include:

  • Please briefly describe your formal academic background in journalism.

  • How did your training prepare you for a job as a journalist?

  • What was your major in school, and why did you select that topic as your major?

  • What training have you taken that has made you a better writer?

  • How did you learn to conduct a formal interview when writing a story?

Experience and background questions

An interviewer may ask you several questions related to your previous work experience and background. They use these questions to evaluate the skills you've developed and how you handle specific situations. Several questions they may ask include:

  • What strategies have you used to increase readership in your previous positions?

  • Tell me about any journalism intern positions you've had.

  • What was your worst-performing story, and why do you think that was?

  • What was your best-performing story, and why do you think that was?

  • What content do you most prefer to write about, and why?

  • What are some of your strengths in using technology for storytelling?

  • What are some of your weaknesses in using technology for storytelling?

  • How do you handle assigned topics you aren't interested in writing?

  • What was your favourite publication to write for, and why?

Interview questions to evaluate your journalism soft skills

During your interview, the hiring manager may ask questions to evaluate your soft skills. Soft skills are those characteristics and qualities that are outside technical skills or knowledge-based abilities. Examples of soft skills include communication, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. Here are several questions a hiring manager may ask during a journalism interview about your soft skills:

  • How do you manage the stress of working within tight deadlines?

  • When working with multiple deadlines, how do you prioritize your stories?

  • Have you ever stretched the truth in a story?

  • How do you build rapport with someone you're interviewing?

  • How do you ensure accuracy in your stories?

  • Give me an example of a time you pitched a unique story.

  • When working on a journalism team, how do you build professional relationships with your colleagues?

  • Describe a time you had to work with an uncooperative or hostile interviewee.

  • Would you take on a story that could tarnish someone's reputation?

  • How do you handle disagreements within the editing process?

  • How do you handle uncomfortable questions when interviewing?

Interview questions to evaluate your journalism hard skills

Hard skills relate directly to your technical abilities and knowledge of the role's duties and responsibilities. You gain and develop hard skills through learning situations, such as academic training or hands-on experience. A hiring manager asks interview questions about your hard skills to evaluate your understanding of the skills needed to succeed at the job. Examples of hard skills include computer skills, interviewing practices, and writing skills. Here are several questions a hiring manager may ask during a journalism interview about your hard or technical skills:

  • What publishing software are you familiar with using as a journalist?

  • Do you prefer writing in AP or Chicago style?

  • What are three concepts or elements you implement into every story?

  • What skills do you use when interviewing people for a story?

  • What are the qualities of a successful interview?

  • If you had to improve your writing, what would you change?

  • What precautions do you take to ensure your information is accurate?

  • What technology are you familiar with using when working on a story?

  • What are the best qualities of your writing style?

Interview questions with sample responses

Here are several in-depth questions a hiring manager may ask during your journalist interview, including sample responses:

How do you ensure you stay up-to-date with accurate information about your stories?

An interviewer asks this question to evaluate your ability to remain current with the latest accurate information. In addition, they want to see that you have reliable information sources and have developed a process to update your stories as needed. When responding to this question, provide detailed examples from previous stories or positions.

Example: "When working on a story that is constantly changing, I stay in close contact with my sources to update my story with the most current information. I also check any details and facts with reliable outlets to ensure my details are accurate. Proper research is important to providing factual information in stories that rely on detailed information."

How much experience do you have with content management systems?

A hiring manager asks this question to evaluate your ability to remain organized while researching and writing your stories. They are also assessing your computer literacy skills and ability to use technology to your advantage. Many publications use content management systems to organize and manage their content. Your response must be truthful, with a focus on your experience using content management programs. If you have minimal experience, focus on using technology and your desire to learn a new process.

Example: "I was first introduced to content management systems when completing my bachelor's degree. When I wrote on the university paper, we used an online platform to manage our stories and content. When I was freelancing, I use a detailed spreadsheet. I enjoy using a content management system because it allows me to keep everything all in one place, including notes, images, SEO tags, and drafts of my stories."

What are three stories our publication would be interested in at this moment?

A hiring manager asks this question to evaluate your ability to pitch a story. This is an essential skill in many organizations to have your story published. They are also considering your knowledge about the publication's readers and the content these readers enjoy the most. Your response can show you understand the organization's readership and the general genre of stories most often published. Be sure to include a unique angle that benefits the organization or readers.

Example: "Because your publication focuses on small business owners in the start-up phase, I have three great ideas that would focus on this area. The first idea is to do a story about the new corporate tax regulations that affect business owners. Addressing the new rules from the perspective of small business owners and how they can maximize their tax returns would be a beneficial article.

The next idea is to do a story about local virtual assistant contractors who help small business owners scale their business from an angle of not trying to do it all yourself. The third story idea is for an interview with an up-and-coming small business owner who has just hired their first staff members. They are a few steps ahead of your readers, and the story could inspire those who are ready to take the next leap in their business."

How do you approach research for a new story?

A hiring manager asks this question to determine your process for conducting research when working on a story. They want to see that you have a system for researching critical data and can remain unbiased and analytical when uncovering information. Your response can include examples of what kind of research you do, along with your overall approach.

Example: "When approaching research for a new story, I like to focus on gathering all the facts first. I use various sources, including eyewitness accounts, personal interviews, other print and online publications, internet and library research, and any reputable leads. Once I have all the facts, I then like finding a unique angle to the story, something that no one else has considered. Only then do I draft out my story."

Explore more articles