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Interviewing: The Right Question

11 Apr

by: Jessi Galloway

“Every interaction is an interview”Mickey Miller

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘interview’? Maybe you think of job applications, human resources, investigative journalism or even research. You’re absolutely right, but what about something as mundane as everyday interactions? Are these too, in themselves, a means of interviewing less obvious than the others?

It is my strong belief that interviewing is a skill important to any career, especially in jobs that require well groomed communication and investigative skills. You might not think of yourself as an interviewer, but look at it this way: “Every interaction is an interview.” -Mickey Miller

Miller, a organizational communication professor at Murray State University, was implying  that every interaction we have, rather it be as straight forward as an interview with HR or as abstract as getting to know your coworkers, is a chance to build rapport with those around us. Apropos of this idea, I’ve developed four key components of good interviewing skills.

1. Go beyond the simple “yes” or “no” question

While one word questions have the their purpose in the work place, it won’t build a relationship. Rather than ask someone “are you” or “have you“, ask “WHY.”

Just the other day I was interviewed for a internship with the Omnicom Group. (For those of you who are not familiar with the company, Yahoo! Finance lists it as “the world’s #1 corporate media services conglomerate.” Pretty intimidating, right?) Part of the process was the interviewer going through a list of cities where I could potentially be placed. I was prompted to answer with a simple yes or no response if I would be interested or capable of relocating to that area.

This particular part of the interview served a very basic function, but it didn’t answer why I chose those cities, it gave the interviewer no insight to why I would fit those locations. Why’s answer what drives a person and motivates them. It moves the relationship deeper and requires the answerer to give more.

The interviewer understood this and followed up his initial question with, “Why did you choose those cities?” I was then able to explain the job market research I had done and the current housing cost compared to the affordability with my expected income. The interviewer was impressed to say the least, which brings me to my next point.

2. Do your research before the interview

Never go to an interview without having done some basic research about the company and that particular market. Be prepared to answer question relevant to current industry news or trends, the company’s clients or even question that will expose you if you didn’t read the companies history tab on the website.

If you know the name of your interviewer, check out their LinkedIn profile and follow the companies professional profile. My job field is in PR and Marketing, so I subscribe to publication like PR Week to get industry news. Don’t stop there. Many companies do market research that can be found on their websites, which is a great place to find what sort of interest that company is invested in. Check out press releases and find out how that company talks about themselves and what they are doing to create impact.

I mentioned earlier some questions are meant to expose and weed out those who are less serious about the job. Never go to an interview without thoroughly reading the about tab on the company website. HR departments may ask you anything ranging from “How do your values match up with that of the company’s” to “which of our clients/projects attracted you to the position.” It’s not only for job interviews, but any formalized Q and A session.

Take, for example, a journalist interviewing a person for a story. Your subject is taking valuable time out of their day to speak with you. If you ask a question that is considered public knowledge it might result in the end of the interview and refusal of future communication. You don’t want to return to the office only to tell your boss not only did you fail to get the interview, you also ensured that no one else on that staff would either.

Luckily, social media has made our jobs much easier. Check out their LinkedIn profile, Facebook interest, even what they tweet about. Know not only about them, but what they do. You don’t want to interview a football coach and ask, “what’s a down” or interview a public relation CEO and say, “that’s kind of like advertising right?” If you want to be taken seriously as a interviewer, show them you are credible.

3. Don’t be afraid to move off script

Most interviews will start off with a basic script of questions developed from the research done in step three. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay on script. Keep in mind it’s a guide, not a mandate. If you get wrapped up with a preconceived idea of how the interview is suppose to go, you might miss vital information.

Last summer, at the conclusion of my internship, my mentor invited me to sit down with her to discuss my progress and to give me a chance to ask her any question I might have about the industry or the current job market. One of the questions I asked her was the very generic “How did you get started in the industry?” Come to find out her career start was much different than where she ended up. Her journey took me by complete surprise. I had a whole host of preplanned questions, but instead I took my own advice from step one and asked “Why?” I was rewarded for this curiosity, because her response opened my eyes to a whole new set of possibilities in my own career.

Really listening to others. Not only their words, but also if they sound frustrated or if they light up when they talk about a certain subject. These cues will help you take the conversation deeper if you find avenues that the other person feels strongly about. Not everyone is a open book. There is as much power in what is not said, than the words themselves. This bring me to my next and final point.

4. Don’t be afraid of silence

Recent research done by the Harvard Business Review shows that introverts have the potential to make better leaders due to their ability to listen. Culturally we have been condition to view extroverts as natural leaders, however, recent speculation has been made that introverts listen more carefully making them more receptive to other’s needs. I mentioned earlier not everyone is an open book. If you’re in a position of power, more than likely your subordinates are going to sensor their interactions with you. This holds true in a newer relationship, as well. Be patient, listen, and watch what their nonverbal communication says just as much as you listen to the actual words.

I’ll admit that this is the step I struggle with most, but after putting it to practice I find that by remaining silent just a little longer than I normally would others are more likely to fill that gap, reveal a little more, go a little deeper. Don’t become uncomfortable with silence. As an interviewer silence encourages the interviewee to reveal more. As an interviewee, be conscious of ‘just saying something’ to fill the silence.


Gullibility and the Media

4 Apr

by: Jessi Galloway

It’s here again, April Fools, and that can only mean one thing: Pranks, rather you’re on the receiving end or not. You would think by now we’d be a little more wary of our sources, especially with recent hoaxes like the Manti Te’o story. Recently I’ve begun to ask myself have we become more gullible as a society?

CNN recently reported on the top ten April Fools online pranks for 2013. Among them was Youtube’s announcement that it would be no more, Twitter charging for the use of vowels, and the new Google Nose. Don’t worry, Youtube will still be here tomorrow, as well as the satirical news stories, the doctored photo’s, false Facebook updates, and tweets that are sure to leave your friends in a tizzy; we’ve seen them all, but what happens when seemingly harmless jokes are taken as factual information?

(Photo taken from

Things like Google Nose seem like harmless fun, but then again there is a saying ‘It’s always fun and games, till someone gets hurts,’ and when it comes to April Fools and the media, someone always does.

Lost in Translation

It isn’t only American society that has fallen prey to merciless pranksters. Onion, a notorious satirical website, managed to fool the Chinese government’s press with the story it ran naming Kim Jong Un as the sexiest man alive. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated event, and the Onion takes pride in those it fools.

Are our ego’s making us blind to truth, or are we really just that gullible? Kim Jong Un had a 55 page photo spread done in response to this “honor.” Below is a photo of the North Korea leader trying to appear dashing atop a horse. Okay, so maybe it was his ego in this case, but what about the reporters who ran the story, or posted the Gallery of his “sexiest moments?”

(Photo taken from the Daily Sheeple)

Whose to Blame?

Perhaps we can chalk some of this up not to the gullibility of people, but to a loss in translation. After all if we can bomb Hiroshima because of a miss translation, we can hardly point the finger at others for not realizing that the onion is meant to be comedic. Regardless I’m willing to bet someone lost their job over that story… looks like the jokes on them after all.

Can we blame social media? Online news? It’s become so easy to share a status updates or retweet a thread, but how often do we check the full content of what we are posting. By posting you are endorsing that message. How many links down the line until we have lost all fact? These are all question we must ask ourselves whenever we seek out information.

So whose fault is it? We have no one but ourselves to blame. The information is out there we’ve just gotten to content to make the extra effort; trade in expediency for accuracy. If these stories have taught us anything it that faster doesn’t always mean better.

Don’t be the fool this April and check the facts.

Turning Movies into News Leads

7 Mar

by: Jessi Galloway

Why not make learning fun?

This week I thought I’d put to practice writing news leads and brush up my AP style using the Who, What, Where, When, How, Why list approach. In all things, practice makes perfect, but no one said it needed to be boring.

Use your favorite movies as a premise to practice writing news leads. It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s an excuse to watch Netflix this weekend. I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic the last few days and decided to pick three of my childhood favorites as an example.
101 Dalmations (1961)

(Picture Source: Fantasmic Blogspot)

Who: 101 Dalmatian puppies

What: They were stolen in the middle of the night by a serial dognapper

Where: Suburbs of London

When: Friday of this week

How: Breaking and entering

Why: Police are still looking for leads.

101 pure-breed Dalmatian puppies went missing Friday night, after the serial dognappers raided the quite suburbs of London. Police are still investigating potential suspects.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

(Picture Source: Profiles in History )

Who: Willy Wonka

What: Issued 5 Golden Tickets

Where: In London

When: Monday Morning this week

How: In Wonka Chocolate bars

Why: To choose a winner for a grand prize

Willy Wonka issued ten golden tickets hidden in Wonka Chocolate Bars Monday morning that will admit 5 lucky winners into his chocolate factory, of which 1 will win the grand prize.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


(Picture Source: FanPop)

Who: Mr. Grinch

What: Stole Christmas

Where: In Whoville

When: Monday morning, this week

How: By impersonating Santa

Why: He hates Christmas

Mr. Grinch is suspected of impersonating Santa to steal Christmas after eye witness reports place him at the scene of the crime last Tuesday night. 

Information Technology: Your Right to Privacy

12 Feb

by: Jessi Galloway

Can you imagine knowing the names and locations of every gun owner in your area? What if your name was on that map? What if it wasn’t? Do you feel safe with millions of strangers knowing where you live and if you have a gun?

The question I pose today is not rather one should or shouldn’t own a gun, but rather if our right to privacy has been violated by interactive information technology using public records to pin point gun owners, like the map below.

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 4.39.31 PM

Map Provided by Times NewsFeed

This map was featured on a New York newspapers website this past December, in response to the Newtown shooting. The interactive graphic gave viewers the names and addresses of licensed gun holders in the two areas of New York. It soon became apparent that the graphic caused major issues of safety for gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

Outcries from the involved communities, in response of the map, lead to great controversy. Those who owned guns feared lash back from those who do not support the gun laws, while those having no firearms feared their homes may become a target for burglary. Some of the gun owners listed are members of the New York Police Department and retired veterans, yet their private information was posted on this map much in the way we post interactive maps of convicted sex offenders.

The Publics Right to Know Verses the Individuals Right to Privacy

So, what are our rights exactly? What information do we consider to be private? William and Mary’s Bill of Right’s Journal states,

“Information privacy involves an individual’s personal information and his ability to control that information. Personal information includes data assigned to an individual, such as a social security number, address, or telephone number.”

Public databases and interactive technology have made such information available on the web, where in most cases the individuals are unaware of it, or at least until it’s too late. Once information is out on the web, it’s near impossible to control it. Are our rights as an individual being abused by this type of technology? The majority seems to be in agreement that the map was a major invasion of privacy, however, like with all stories, there is another side to it.

The purpose of the map was in response to those who wanted more information on gun owners after the recent shootings that have shaken our nation. Homeowners felt they had the right to information concerning gun permits in their area. The Journal News staff defended its action, reported by the New York Times,  saying it was their job as journalist to report such controversially topics.

They asked for tighter gun restriction. Well, they got it… sort of. A new law was imposed as a result, only this law was to protect gun owner’s privacy. Ultimately, the map was removed and only a static version can be viewed by the public.

What are the alternatives?

The greatest issue here is that the information was too specific and far too intrusive. Is a news story more important than the safety of an individual, or several in this case? I should hope not. Perhaps a better alternative would have been to provide a statistical chart featuring only the percentages of handgun owners in certain areas.

The public is still being offered general information without offering specifics that could make individuals a target for lash back or their homes a target for theft. There is balance between the public’s right to know and an individual’s right to privacy that must be adhered to lest we find ourselves in another situation like the one created in New York.

Fact-checking In The Digital Age: A Brief Look At The Manti Te’o Scandal

28 Jan

by: Jessi Galloway

It would seem that fact-checking in an age of technology where search engines are capable of turning over thousands of results in the blink of an eye would be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse. This, however, is not the case. The waters of internet reporting are a murky place: tread with caution!

It’s not that there isn’t value in the benefits of internet news writing, blogs, or twitter feeds; but how many of these posts are from a legitimate source? How many links down the line until the original details are less fact and more of a game of Telephone? (We’ve all played the game as children: you start out with a simple message and whisper it down the line, but by the time it gets to the end the message has become diluted.)

It seems to be the case that if enough people are posting a link or retweeting a post that it somehow gives it undue credibility. This goes for big time news reporters as well. One Media Bistro blogger, Fratti, reported that even the highly acclaimed news media’s, like The New York Times and Sports Illustrated , failed to do the footwork needed for the Manti Te’o story. She continues to question how there are stories referencing a funeral for the girl in question and no one has taken the time to check the obituary’s. Anyone else seeing a red flag?

When everyone’s rushing to be the first out with the story, (an issue quite prevalent with the invention of internet news writing) failure to follow up on the accuracy of the source has become a reoccurring problem.

The Media In Question
It’s strange to think that social media websites like Twitter and Facebook didn’t even exist ten-years ago. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, announced to Forbes in October of 2012 that the site had reached the 1 billion users mark; a huge milestone for social media. The Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax is just one example of many where fake accounts or falsified information is involved. How many people have you accepted friend requests from whom you’ve never met based solely on the fact you have friends in common? It’s all too easy to fly under the radar, as this most recent hoax has proven.

Check Please!
If the Manti Te’o story has taught us anything it’s to always, always check your sources. While this seems a basic concept that goes without saying, the practice of it has gone to the wayside in favor of being the first with the story. You might get the scoop, but it’s also your reputation on the line if the break out story is inaccurate.