Each year the field of science writing is growing more competitive. In fact, the 2013 AAAS internship fair had a record-high of over 70 participants. That means your ability to produce an attractive resume and cover letter is crucial to your potential candidacy for an internship or job. (Not to mention the number of clips and outlets you’ve accrued and written for over the years.) However, even more important than your paper work are your interviewing skills.
As an aspiring science journalist, I am constantly interviewing sources for stories, asking questions and taking notes. Yet, when it comes time for me to give the answers, I often become stressed, which then makes me ramble. I understand and have experienced the pressure that comes with an interview, and I think solid preparation is the key to success. Therefore, I’m going to lend a helping hand to my fellow competitors and provide ten tips for how you can knock your interviewer’s socks off.
1. Be able to summarize why you’re pursuing science writing and how you entered the field in 30 seconds.
2. Know how your experience and skills fit with the needs of the media outlet for which you’re interviewing.
3. Know other media outlets that publish similar and different science content and be able to identify some authors at each outlet.
4. Be able to identify a handful of journalists whose content you enjoy reading.
5. Don’t just follow print journalists. Know your journalists in broadcast and video, too.
6. Stay current with non-science news. Often times an interviewer will ask you if there is any news that could be reported in a different way that would fit their type of publication. In other words, find the science angles to non-science news.
7. Be quick on your feet. If your interviewer asks for a story pitch, have a handful ready complete with catchy headlines and leads.
8. Be able to communicate how this position will help you in your career prospects.
9. Be able to answer why the media outlet for which you’re interviewing will meet your needs better than other media outlets.
10. Approach each question like you’re writing a story. Be as clear and concise as possible. Include only the most relevant information and if you have some interesting anecdotes include them.