Your dream job interview

Step one of the dream job interview

To land your dream job, you have to understand what your dream job actually is, only then can you ace the dream job interview. Here’s what Colleen Eddy, the director of Poynter’s Career Center and Business Development had to say:

One of the most difficult questions posed to me in an interview was, “What is your ideal job?”

I thought I had to match the employer’s needs — mine were irrelevant. I had never considered what was ideal for me.

So how do you go about coming close to your ideal? Start by thinking about what motivates you and what you want, and then evaluate openings with those priorities in mind. You want a job you know you can do well. Figure out your strengths and note which achievements have given you the greatest sense of accomplishment. Think about where you want to work and the kind of company culture in which you thrive.

Don’t overlook the basic rewards and factors that influence job satisfaction: compensation, benefits, company culture and reputation, geographic location, recognition, potential for growth and learning.

There’s a lot to think about. Here are some questions to get you

  • What do I do well that makes me feel good about my contributions at work and in life?
  • What are the key strengths I rely on every day to do this work?
  • What are the weaknesses that have held me back or would need to be supported by colleagues or additional training — at work or otherwise?
  • How quickly do I learn new skills?
  • What are my core values, and how will I know if a particular company shares them?
  • Will the company that hires me pay for relocating me?

And after the dream job interview?

What then? The reader below had a dilemma. He writes:

I’m a 25-year-old journalist who accepted a staff reporter position just outside of San Francisco. It is a dream job of sorts for any beginning reporter. My first day on the job was surprisingly smooth. And I even had my first breaking news story published on Page One. I was seemingly on my way but then as the days and weeks passed, I found that high level of energy and pure interest in honing my craft dwindling more every day. I wasn’t learning as fast as I wanted to, and editors had to constantly tell me things twice. I had hit a slump of sorts because I had little interest in my beat as the law enforcement reporter. Two months into my job, I grew incredibly lazy in my reporting and writing, and it showed. Editors were concerned for me. Just last week, I was fired. I was only there four months. I became overwhelmed with the work at times, missed home and even became bored with work. I’m not a quitter, but it seems as though I gave up on my job and thus eliminated myself completely from regaining a job as a journalist.

I’ve always known that I want to write for arts and entertainment, preferably magazine-style writing. I somehow landed a gig writing for A&E at a large daily and placed far more emphasis on a freelance gig than I did my full-time job. I was somewhat relieved when I got fired. That is the most disturbing part. Do I still have a chance at getting back into the journalism game? How do I bypass the newspaper job and go straight to magazine?

My answer:

You may have aced the dream job interview, but it sounds like you were in the wrong medium, working on the wrong content — and you didn’t have the discipline to stay focused on your job. That’s valuable information as you try to focus your career. Try alternative weeklies and A&E Web sites. If you have trouble landing a full-time position, try to assemble a stable of non-competing clients. I hope you have been able to hold on to that gig you had freelancing for the large daily. That is a clip builder, a potential reference and a source of income. If anyone asks why you left your newspaper job — and you should not try to hide it — say you were in the wrong place and are now on your true career track — and have grown up.

Mastering the newsroom:

Want more advice on getting and holding onto your dream job? These questions, answers and advice come from my book Ask The Recruiter, where I have collected years of experience from recruiting in newsrooms. The book contains popular questions and answers dedicated to breaking open the occasionally opaque nature of newsroom hiring, promoting and managing.

For more information, check out the following resources:

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