A Letter from a Trent Journalist: Things You Shouldn’t do when being Interviewed

No aspiring journalist’s dreams were crushed in the making of this article, but I can’t deny that they were beaten, bent, and maybe, in a weird kind of way, realized.

Journalism, like other professions, has a strict rule: You aren’t in the club until you can complain about being in the club. Now, since I feel comfortable stating some of my complaints about the trade of journalism, is there any chance I could join the club?

I find instructional articles annoying, and sometimes rather complicated. If I were to make a list of things you should do during an interview, then the list may be long and hard to remember. Plus, you can find thousands of those types of articles online.

Instead, I have opted for a short list of things you shouldn’t do while getting interviewed in order to avoid getting put into the Journalists’ Black Book of Horrendous Interviewees. I hope that you, whichever one of the beautiful Trent students you may be, do something that garners media attention in your life because 1) that’s cool, and 2) it makes reading this article time well spent.

Without further ado, here is my list of three things that you absolutely shouldn’t do when you’re being interviewed.

1.) Forget the interviewer’s name.

It’s okay that the person interviewing you has spent a significant amount of time learning about you and what you’re doing, perhaps even conducting extensive research about you before meeting you. It’s okay, their name isn’t worth remembering.

You are the star of the show, and if you mess it up a couple of times, he’ll stop correcting you eventually. And in your reality, his name might as well be Mark and not Matt. It’s okay. Just don’t be disappointed when you go to read the article on you and find that only your densest remarks made it to print.

2.) Answer questions in as few words as possible.

It may be a yes or no answer, but the person interviewing you is looking for a line to quote you on. They want you, at the very least, to reply, “Yes, I watch a lot of Netflix,” instead of just “yes.”

Maybe the they didn’t phrase the question well, but help a fellow human out and give long-winded answers. Just pretend to be your uncle, telling a story at Thanksgiving dinner.

3.) Ask them questions.

Did you research this? Yeah, I did, I am just letting you confirm the facts.

Have you been doing this long? No, actually, I haven’t, and my interview confidence is shaking, thanks for asking.

How about you, have you ever done [insert activity that interviewee is good at]? Yes, actually, I have. In elementary school, I was the first man off the bench.

Be conversational, but don’t be inquisitive. When you are asking an interviewer questions, it is easy to come off as standoffish or just plain insulting.

There are some other tips, like don’t be discriminatory or rude, and don’t make false statements, but then again, that advice is obvious, and the kind of people who say those things are also the ones who don’t care enough to read this.