How to Dress for a Successful Intervew

Freelance writers sometimes wonder what to wear when they go out to interview a source, either in a business office or some other setting. We may wear comfy old jeans, or even our PJs, while at the computer, but when we need to do an in-person interview for an article, we want to make sure we are suitably dressed and groomed.

We know that others judge us, and treat us, according to our attire. How we look does count. And first impressions are especially important.

In their book, Before the Story, George M. Killenberg and Rob Anderson offer some excellent tips on the subject of interviewing, including how to dress for the interview. Their book was written to provide interviewing and communication skills for journalists, but their advice can also help freelancers. (When the book was written, Killenberg was a professor of mass communication and Anderson a professor of speech communication at Southern Illinois University).

They suggest that each of us should ask this question:”Do I want to risk offending or alienating an interviewee by drawing attention to my clothing or appearance?”

“There are reporters … who pride themselves on being nonconformists, including in how they dress. Perhaps they are rebelling against the dress-for-success mentality. Then there are those who affect a ‘look,’ whether it be college chic, blue collar or L. L. Bean. Finally, some are just plain tacky; mis-and-unmatch polyester is their style.”

So they advise as a general rule:

“…choose clothing that is appropriate in a professional business setting–a jacket and tie for men and a suit or dress for women. Most people expect such attire. Try to remain inconspicuous or even ‘neutral’ in the color and style of your clothes. Avoid anything in dress or grooming that would be considered unfavorably because you’re perceived as pretentious, flashy, sloppy or rebellious.”

The authors quote a reporter for a metropolitan newspaper who said he dresses to be comfortable. “I’m a suit-and-tie kind of guy. I don’t feel I need to put on bib overalls to interview a farmer. If they see I’m comfortable in the way I dress, they’ll be comfortable, too.”

But Killenberg and Anderson warn that comfort can’t be the only guide: “…otherwise many people would go to work in pajamas or robes. If you wear a Brooks Brothers suit to interview street people, don’t be surprised if rapport is difficult to establish.”

Their book is chock full of helpful information about interviewing, including chapters on “Human Nature and the Nature of Questions” and “Assessing People and Information: On Not Getting Fooled, Most of the Time.”  It’s not a recently published book.  I bought my copy more than 10 years ago and the help it gives it still timeless. It’s still available at Amazon.com and EBay and maybe at other places. The publisher is St. Martin’s Press, Inc.

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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The 10 Most Misspelled Words

Do you know that definitely is the most misspelled word in the English language?

Until I ran across an article in the Daily Record, a U.K. publication, about the ten most common spelling blunders, I never knew that definitely is the most misspelled word. And that word surprised me. Unlike many others, definitely seems a rather simple word and it’s hard to understand why so many people have trouble with it. It seems that a lot of them misspell it definately.

I was not surprised by the second place word, sacrilegious. That’s a more difficult word and is often misspelled as sacreligious.

The Daily Record reported on the ten most misspelled words recently, based on findings by OnePoll, a UK market research firm. The story also received widespread coverage in the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, all U.K. publications, and has since been picked up and reported around the world.

The research also found that 57 percent of people judge others on their spelling.

Here are the other eight most misspelled words, as reported by the Daily Record:

3. Indict, which is often written indite.

4. Manoeuvre (that’s the British spelling; in the U.S., it is usually written as Maneuver).

5. Bureaucracy.

6. The much-maligned vegetable, Broccoli.

7. Phlegm.

8. Prejudice.

9. Consensus.

10. Unnecessary.

I’ve always been lucky that I’m a fairly good speller, but I still have to check the dictionary every time I need to use words like consensus and sacrilegious. Do any of these words trip you up?

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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Possible Markets for Your Work: 13 New Publications

Whenever I go to Barnes & Noble, I am struck by the fact that new publications appear on the newsstand almost every week. That’s a remarkable thing, I think, especially in these tough economic times.

After returning from my most recent trip to B&N, I checked out Mr.Magazine.com, my favorite source of information about new publications. I wanted to see what Samir Husni, Ph.D., — Mr. Magazine — had to say about the newest arrivals on the magazine scene. This week I found that he presented information about 13 new magazines, along with his impressions of some of them.

The new publications range from Natural Cat, a new addition to the family of pet magazines, to Fighters Only, a British martial arts and lifestyle magazine, to Gulf Coast Wine+Dine, a Southern hospitality magazines covering Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

If you go to Mr. Magazine’s website, you can find details about these three and the other 10 publications he spotlights this week. They include Rebel Ink, “a tatoo magazine with attitude;” plus a magazine to devoted to the Mambo Scene; a Jiu-Jitsu magazine; a new music publication called Blurt; a New York focused magazine, Prestige New York, that launched in Singapore nine years ago and now is available the U.S.; a publication about loft and condo living called Loft Life; Guitar Aficionado Magazine; a French art and artists magazine called Technikart Paris-NewYork; a new Marvel publication about super heroes called Wolverine Magazine; and Marie, a publication focusing on mixed-media art.

Some of these publications could turn out to be paying markets for your freelance work. You might want to check them out now and get a jump on the competition.

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.

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Apostrophes and the Apostrophe Protection Society

A lot of people are irritated by misplaced or missing apostrophes. That’s easy to know just by looking of the number of blogs dealing with the subject. Until yesterday, however, I didn’t know of the existence of the Apostrophe Protection Society, an organization that John Richards, and his son, Stephen, formed to deal with apostrophe abuse. I found the story online in a 2001 edition of the UK Boston Journal (thus proving that I am sadly behind the times).

Richards, a retired copy editor living in the Lincolnshire area of England, and his son were sole charter members of the society but their obsession with apostrophes abuse is shared by many Britons. Richards got 50 letters of appreciation from well-wishers after The Telegraph ran a story about the society, and 257 people hastened to join the organization. Richards received 450 letters and even about $140 in unsolicited cash.

Some of the individuals who responded try to do battle on their own to correct the offending marks. One even carries around sticky bits of tape with apostrophes on them and sticks the tape on offending signs. One woman wrote about her outrage with a pub in her area that displayed signs for “todays menue’s” and “Nigels special pudding’s.” She set about correcting the signs herself until her husband restrained her.

Richards fights the offending signs by sending form letters like this when he finds misplaced apostrophes:

“Dear Sir or Madam:
Because there seems to be some doubt about the use of the apostrophe, we are taking the liberty of drawing your attention to an incorrect use.” After an explanation of punctuation rules, his letter concludes, “We would like to emphasize that we do not intend any criticism, but are just reminding you of correct usage should you wish to put right the mistake.”

So far, Richards says only one establishment, the local library, took down an errant apostrophe.

However you feel about apostrophes and their use and misuse, you can read more about them and the Apostrophe Protection Society by clicking here.

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©2009 by Laverne Daley

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