Making an interview impression with Bob Berkowitz


In an interview, says former CNN correspondent Bob Berkowitz, "you have to answer their unasked but vitality important question: "'Why should I care?'" Here, Berkowitz speaks to a crowd in Wilson Auditorium at FDU earlier this spring.

By Kenna Caprio

Listen up recent Fairleigh Dickinson University graduates and job seekers, Bob Berkowtiz, long-time journalist and strategic communications expert, has news for you. 

In a job interview, contends Berkowitz, “feelings are more important than what we think.”

Speaking to a crowd of students and job hunters a month ago in Wilson Auditorium, Dickinson Hall, Berkowitz shared insider tips about landing that new job.

He advised the group to take what he terms the “FES” approach by focusing on “feelings, empathy and stories.”

Interviewers are “going to make a feeling judgment as well as a thinking judgment,” and need to have a “positive and powerful” feeling for the process to move forward, says Berkowitz.

By picking up on a potential employer’s feelings, experiencing empathy and relaying stories, interviewees can find success in the job market, contends Berkowitz.

Starting with the cover letter, share a defining career moment to “get their attention and get it fast,” says Berkowitz.

Interviewees also need to make sure they explain how their talents advance the cause of the company or employer.

“What they care about is what you can do for them,” advises Berkowitz. “The smart person says: ‘this is how my talents and abilities help you.’”

To illustrate his point, Berkowitz disclosed a pivotal career moment of his own. While working as a correspondent for ABC News in the 1980s, Berkowtiz watched a segment on NBC’s “The Today Show” called, “Today’s Woman.” As he watched, he thought to himself, “What about Today’s Man?”

He snagged a meeting with a higher-up at NBC to pitch a “Today’s Man” segment. During the meeting, he cited research about The Today Show’s audience, two-thirds of which was then female, Berkowitz says. “Consumers about men are women,” he told the executive he met with. By doing his homework and filling a visible gap, Berkowitz landed a new gig.

“The best jobs I’ve ever had in my life are the ones I invented,” says Berkowitz.

Job hunters can take a cue from Berkowitz by “offering employers and customers something that they’re not getting anywhere else. Define who you are, what you have and how it helps them.”

Thoroughly prepping before the interview, from deciding what skills and stories to highlights to researching company background, can help job hunters present themselves appropriately.

When he’s interviewing job candidates, Berkowitz is quick to scratch candidates who don’t ask any questions of him off of his list of potentials. He also stresses the importance of dressing appropriately for the company and cautions staying away from talking religion or politics.

“Do what excites you, interests you, turns you on. But have a plan B, C and D. My father gave me that advice,” Berkowitz says.

Berkowitz is a principal at The Dilenschneider Group, a New York-based strategic communications firm and former CNN, ABC News and The Today Show correspondent. He can be reached at bob@bobberkowitz.com.

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

FDU Office of Public Relations

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Dina Schipper,
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Kenna Caprio,
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FDU Office of Public Relations

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Daniel Landau,
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