What hiring managers are looking with Olga Robinson

In our seventh interview, we sat down with Olga Robinson, Assistant Editor at BBC Monitoring, and asked her several questions about her work, the recruitment process at BBC Monitoring, and what skills she's looking for when hiring OSINT specialists.

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1. Where do you work now and what are your day-to-day tasks?

I work at BBC Monitoring, a specialist unit at BBC News that observes and reports news from and about the world’s media and social media. As one of the Assistant Editors, I run the Disinformation team at BBCM and oversee the work of its Jihadist Media team and Researchers.

2. How can candidates stand out right away?

By showing genuine interest in the job that they have applied for.

3. What does the recruitment process look like at your organization? How many steps are there?

There are several stages in the recruitment process at the BBC. First, we assess all the applications and CVs we’ve received from candidates. The most suitable candidates are then shortlisted and often asked to sit a test that is designed to check some of the key skills and knowledge required to do the job. The test can include writing assignments, translation and background knowledge tests. The successful candidates are then asked to attend an interview in person or via Zoom. Candidates will get feedback if they have been turned down at the interview stage.

4. What kind of skill sets are you looking for when hiring for an intelligence analyst within your company? Are there any technical skills you are particularly interested in?

Journalists at BBC Monitoring are required to have excellent writing and analytical skills as well as ability to work to tight deadlines and explain complex subjects clearly and concisely. Strong verification skills as well as good knowledge of social media analysis and tracking tools are a must, as well as understanding of the core principles of data analysis. Regional and language skills are highly desirable but not a must for the Disinformation team specifically, although these are essential for regional teams.

5. What kind of character traits do you find beneficial during interviews? Is there any behavior that can be an advantage for the candidate?

I try to be as open-minded as I can during the recruitment process so strive to assess every candidate individually and on merit. We look for potential as well as experience.

6. Do you have any advice regarding salary negotiations during the hiring process? And dos and don’ts?

I’d say it always helps to be open about your salary expectations and also do some research prior to applying or attending your interview to gain a bit of an understanding of what kind of reward might be considered reasonable for the sector or company. 

7. Would you be able to share any outstandingly positive interview experiences you have gone through as the hiring manager or person responsible for recruiting? What blows you away during an interview?

It’s hard not to be impressed when a candidate comes to the interview well-prepared and when they show genuine passion for the job or subject matter. 

8. Is there any other useful feedback for the OSINT community that you would like to share with us? For example, what are some of the most common mistakes made by interviewees, and how can they be prevented?

Before applying for any role, it’s worth doing some digging into what the job entails, what kind of skills are essential and what the company/department you’re applying for does.  

9. What type of interview processes or questions are outdated in your opinion? How can the hiring process be improved?

Personally, I think generic questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” do little to help the recruiting manager assess the candidate’s abilities and experience. And some questions that may have been the norm at some point in the past are simply unacceptable in the modern recruitment process. For example, “I can see that you got married recently, are you planning to go on parental leave any time soon?” or “Where do you come from originally?” Discrimination and bias of any kind in the recruitment process are simply inexcusable.

10. What would you recommend to recent graduates or newbies? How can they best prepare for their first interviews? Are there any resources you can recommend?

It might sound daunting, but it can be helpful to reach out to people who work at the department you’re applying for and have a chat about the job and what is expected from a candidate. And there is nothing wrong in asking for more information or clarification from the recruitment manager/HR when you apply.

[note: this interview has not been edited]