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May 21, 2024

Five ways to fail in media job interviews

By Amanda Kavanagh

Securing a job offer is a lengthy process – it takes the average person 3.8 months to land a job in the UK from the moment they update their CV to receiving and accepting an offer, according to a 2024 survey of over 2,500 job seekers.

From applying via job board ads to email etiquette, there’s plenty of potential for pitfalls along the way. According to another new survey, this time of 1,007 HR professionals, these are the most commonly cited reasons to not hire a candidate.

1. Rudeness

Brits may be associated with a strong sense of politeness and decorum, but often professional wires can be easily crossed when you’re navigating emails, and in-person interactions.

Keep emails concise and polite, avoiding overly casual language or abruptness. Always use appropriately formal salutations and sign-offs, and if you’re uncertain or it’s a particularly important email, ask a tone-conscious friend to proofread it for a second opinion.

Failing to respond promptly to emails or neglecting to acknowledge important messages can at best be seen as disinterested at best, rude at worst.

If you land an interview, avoid interrupting the interviewer and speaking over others on the panel, if you can. Offer a firm handshake, maintain eye contact where possible, and don’t slate the company’s current way of doing things when explaining how you’d do things differently.

After the interview, send up a thank you email saying how you really enjoyed meeting them, that you’re excited about the opportunity, and if they need any further information not to hesitate to get in touch. Personalise this email as much as possible – don’t let ChatGPT write this one.

2. Lateness

This one is basic. Arriving late to an interview reflects poorly on your own organisational skills, but also suggests a lack of enthusiasm about the opportunity.

Build in plenty of buffer time, and arrive at the office 10-15 minutes early. It’s better to be too early and to kill time in a nearby cafe than arrive flustered and full of apologies. You only make a first impression once.

3. Unprofessional dress

Although your ability to do the job should be the only relevant thing, it’s undeniable that appearances matter. Even if the office dress code is casual in practice, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dress more formally for the interview stages.

Invest in a couple of seasonally-appropriate and comfortable interview outfits to ensure your look is as professional as your intentions. And opt for natural fibres where possible for breathability and to avoid heat-based discomfort during challenging interviews and presentations.

4. Lack of knowledge

Do your homework and come prepared to discuss how the company is performing, what its challenges are, what its short and long-term goals are, and note anything you admire about the company in recent months and years.

Show your interest by researching the company’s platforms, products and services in advance. Be informed but keep it positive.

On the morning of the interview, always Google the company and check its website and social media channels; there could be a last-minute talking point that you’ll need to be well-versed in.

Lastly, know how your unique combination of skills and experience can help drive the company forward, and be sure to link these together in the interview.

5. Failure to ask questions

A job interview should not be a one-way grilling. This is your chance to evaluate if the company and role are the right fit for you too – after all, your time and career are very valuable.

Failing to ask thoughtful questions can signal disengagement or a lack of curiosity, two absolute no-nos in the media industry especially.

Ask about the company culture, team or reporting structures, growth opportunities, and any concerns you may have about the role.

Latest jobs from Press Gazette

Ready to flex your refined job application skills? Head to Press Gazette Jobs, where you can browse hundreds of interesting jobs now, like these three.

If you grew up collecting Panini stickers and loved it, this could be the perfect role for you. US sports company Fanatics is seeking a London-based QA Editor to review a wide variety of pre-production text, data and art files for trading card and sticker collections.

The successful candidate will work across multiple brands within its professional Sports and Entertainment licences, collaborating with global prepress, editorial, brand, design, and licensing teams. You’ll need to be a good multitasker, be able to manage multiple projects independently, and have a keen eye for detail. Find out more here.

In Oxfordshire, an independent advertising agency is seeking a Medical Editor to work in a hybrid model. With a rich legacy of providing creative and digital marketing solutions to some of the leading names in the pharma and healthcare industries, this is a newly-created role and the successful candidate will shape the new editorial process in this growing and developing team. You’ll be editing a range of scientific medical content across digital and print, and will be collaborating with medical writers to ensure accuracy, clarity and reliability. Ideally, you’ll have at least a BSc in a relevant subject like pharmacology, medicine or biomedical sciences, and at least three years editing experience within a medical comms agency. Apply here.

Times Media in London is seeking a Business Analyst to work with its development teams to translate product visions into requirements and solutions to enhance the reader experience. As the publisher builds out its interactive capabilities, this is an opportunity to really influence how stories are told. Day-to-day, the successful candidate will conduct in-depth analysis during the discovery phase on prioritised initiatives, which may include working with tech teams on cross-team deliverables. They will then ensure requirements are clearly articulated into well-defined epics and user stories, and facilitate the delivery phase ensuring feedback to the team, and key business stakeholders. View the requirements here.

For many more roles hiring in media, visit Press Gazette Jobs today

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