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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Tips for Assessment Days

By Sukhpreet Chana, Grace Edwards, Misha Manani and Lydia Marshall 

Assessment days help you to gain insight into the publishing industry, as the hiring team examines your personality and skills to see if you are a good fit for a role. This also gives you a chance to network with other applicants and meet recruiters. The process is implemented by the HR department and hiring departments and is used for schemes such as the HarperCollins and Hachette Traineeships. 

Assessment Day Tasks

  • Icebreaker: It’s normal to be nervous with assessment days, especially because they aren’t too common in the industry and are difficult to prepare for. They usually start with everyone having to introduce themselves, which is then followed by a short, fun task to warm you up. Examples include talking about a favourite place you have visited, a hidden talent you have or your favourite book or movie.

  • Group activity: Demonstrating your collaborative skills is important. Participants may be split into groups and asked to brainstorm ideas and then present them back. This task could relate to creating a campaign, sharing thoughts about a partnership, planning an event etc. Hiring managers will be observing how candidates work with in a team, how contributions are made and then the group’s ability to present their ideas.

  • Individual activity: This could be a proofreading exercise, circling the correct spelling of the commonly misspelt words, writing an email that responds to a challenge etc. These single tasks will assess attention to detail, communication and the ability to problem-solve, among other skills. These vary depending on the department, whether it be editorial, sales, audio or rights etc 

  • Interview: The assessment day is most likely to end with the interview when the assignments have been completed. It is a chance to interact with those on the hiring panel individually and highlight skills, experience, enthusiasm and market awareness. 


  • Be prepared: Research the company's values, mission statement and recent coverage in the news. Moreover, carefully review the job description to understand the required skills. This way, you can effectively express how you align with the role during an interview. Additionally, check your emails for instructions regarding what to bring, the route to take and the expected arrival time.

  • Be vocal and inclusive: Make sure that you engage in the discussions. If you notice someone not contributing much, ask for their opinion and include them in the conversation. This demonstrates great teamwork skills. If it’s an individual assessment, don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure about a task.


  • Avoid isolation: Ensure that you're being social even during the breaks. It can be daunting, especially with people that you’re unfamiliar with. But do make an effort to talk with the other candidates. You can ask them how they are finding the assessment process. 

  • Comparison: Don't compare yourself to other candidates and allow their confidence to make you feel inferior. Remember, you were selected because you have something valuable to offer. Stay true to yourself, take a deep breath and seize opportunities to contribute.

Bonus Tips

  • Ask questions: Prepare some intelligent questions about the industry, position or company to ask the assessors. This helps to display your genuine interest in learning more and demonstrates skills of critical thinking. This is also a chance to help you find out some valuable insights into the company’s culture and expectations.

  • Participate actively: During discussions or group activities, contribute thoughtful ideas and insights to show off your knowledge and skill set. Also, make sure to listen carefully for other participants' contributions in group assessments and build upon them rather than dominating the conversation as this presents you as collaborative and respectful of others.

  • Practice communication skills: The publishing industry involves lots of communication and collaboration which is normally put to the test during assessment days. It is vital to brush up on your communication skills to make sure you come across as articulate, clear and concise. Make sure you also connect with fellow participants, current employees and industry professionals.

  • Remain calm and confident: There will always be unexpected questions or challenging tasks that you will be faced with. Remember that the assessors are interested in how you handle adversity and pressure. Approach everything positively and do your best!

Join us again for Upskilling Tips for Applicants in Interviews in next week's issue.


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