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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Top Tips for a Successful Online Interview

In today’s socially-distanced job market, much of the publishing industry has moved online and recruitment is no different. If you are lucky enough to score a job interview, it will most likely be online, taking place primarily on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Your interview could be just video, an audio call, or even both of them but the type of interview you will be having should be in the invitation email. Companies also use pre-recorded interviews, such as Penguin Random House who use HireVue. In this article, we’ll break down how to prepare for an online interview from start to finish so you can be confident, even behind a screen!


This is perhaps the most important phase - the more you can do to prepare, the better placed you will be to shine in the interview itself!

Prepare Research and Questions:

  • You should always research the company beforehand and have a good knowledge of the imprint and department that you are specifically applying for, as well as their books and recent campaigns. Start by looking at their social media channels and LinkedIn to make sure you’re up to date with both company developments and the industry as a whole.

  • Think about how and why you are good for this job - look at the job specification and write examples of where you have met the skills required and demonstrated them.

  • Prepare to talk about books you have read recently, your favourite books and genres and have specific examples ready to help you demonstrate commercial awareness.

  • Think of three questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview, such as ‘What is the person leaving this role now doing?’, or something specific about the job/company.

  • If you would like to have preparatory notes during your interview, then you should make sure they are condensed so that they are not distracting.

  • Be familiar with your CV, cover letter and job description and have these to hand so you can refer to them in the interview.

Setting up environment

  • To reduce stress, setting up a quiet and comfortable environment is crucial.

  • Lighting and background are important considerations. A neutral background and natural lighting are ideal. This is also an opportunity to show off your bookshelf!

  • Have your computer camera at eye level and sit at a natural distance from your computer. Prop your laptop up on some books if needed.

Setting up technology

  • Make sure you have downloaded and run the application; check for any potential updates well before your interview.

  • Test your microphone, speakers and video quality beforehand.

  • Check the internet connection and have your phone nearby as a back-up so you can connect to your data should there be problems.

  • On InterviewStream, you can practice video interviews by recording yourself answering questions and scenarios developed by employment professionals.

On the Day

  • For a publishing interview, you should look smart and professional but business wear is unnecessary. Even if you have an audio-only interview, dress for comfort and confidence. This is an opportunity to show off your personality in a creative industry.

  • Be on time, but not too early as interviewers could be using the same virtual room to interview other candidates, so aim to log in about two or three minutes earlier.


It is natural to feel nervous - interviews are scary. Here are some ideas to keep calm and carry on.

  • Try to stay relaxed and present, have a bottle or glass of water with you and take a deep breath before answering a question. This shows the interviewer you are not rushing and you are taking your time to provide the best answer possible.

  • Structure your answers using the STAR technique:

    • S- situation you were in

    • T- task you needed to carry out

    • A- actions that you took in that situation

    • R- the result that was achieved or reflections of how the result could have been better.

  • Try to relate your answers to the specific job description.

  • Using positive non-verbal cues like nodding, smiling, and a relaxed body posture can help communicate confidence and engagement.

  • Eye contact shows confidence. Put a sticker or post-it next to your camera as a reminder to look into the camera. Try not to read from your notes as it will be obvious to your interviewer that your eyes are moving constantly away from the camera.

  • Try to maintain a positive and confident tone of voice, especially during audio-only interviews.


  • Send a ‘thank you’ email to the interviewer to show appreciation.

  • If you haven’t heard back by the proposed date, you could send a polite follow-up, asking where they’re at in the hiring process.

As a practice run, record yourself answering these typical questions:

  • What kinds of books do you like?

  • What are you reading at the moment?

  • Why do you want to work at this company?

  • Why do you think you would be suitable for this role?

  • What makes you stand out from other candidates?

  • Which of our authors would you be most excited to work with? (Bonus if it’s not someone famous or obvious.)

  • When have you used your initiative?

  • Tell us of a time you worked as part of a team.

  • Tell us of a situation where you had to communicate effectively.

Next issue, we’re talking all things Adobe InDesign!



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