The Publishing Post
Upskilling Tips For Interviews
By Amelia Bashford, Annabella Costantino, Misha Manani and Rowan Groat
You want to work in publishing and you’ve got an interview – now what? Including commonly asked questions, video interviews tips and online resources, here’s our best advice on how to prepare. But most of all, remember to be yourself, research as much as possible, smile and try not to overthink!
How To Prepare
Read the job description thoroughly: Use research from writing your CV, cover letter and application as well as company culture, mission statements, current and past catalogues, campaigns etc. – whatever is relevant to that specific job.
Familiarise yourself with your CV and cover letter: Read the application in relation to your CV. Sometimes interviewers will reference these and you don’t want to be unprepared.
Glassdoor: Check this out for other people’s interview experiences and example questions. Don’t be deterred if not all reviews are positive! Everyone’s experience will be different.
STAR technique: Prepare answers to competency-based questions using the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Describe the circumstances, your actions and objectives. Also talk about your achievements, challenges and the outcome.
Assessments: Find out if any tasks or tests are involved and if these can be prepared for. This is quite common in publishing. An editorial team may ask you to proofread a piece of text and a production team could ask you to describe a book.
Always ask questions: Don’t forget to prepare up to five questions for the interviewers. This is your opportunity to clarify any uncertainties, discover more about the role and decide if the company is right for you. Some good questions are “What does success look like in this role?” or “What is your favourite book to have worked on?”
Questions will vary, adhering to the job requirements. There will likely be a mixture of introductory, competency-based and technical questions. Some will be skill-based. Others will present a situation and ask for your response.
Motivation: “What about this role interests you?”, “Why do you want to work for our company?” or “Why do you want to work in this industry?”
Communication: “Tell us about a time when your communication skills made a difference” or “How do you adapt your communication style for different situations?”
Time Management & Multi-Tasking: “This role involves a lot of multitasking. How do you manage your workload?”
IT & Admin: “How do you deal with learning new systems?” or “Give me an example of when your administrative abilities have been effective”
Teamwork: “Provide an example of a time you showed strong teamwork skills?” or “Why is teamwork important in this job?”
Leadership: “Tell me about a time you influenced the decision of a manager or senior member of a team. What was compelling about your suggestion?”
Video Interview Tips
During the pandemic, interviews have been conducted virtually. This may be a trend that will continue. We want to give you some tips to make video interviews less nerve-racking and increase your chances of success.
Write pre-prepared notes: Take advantage of being remote and have some notes (either typed or written) in view – this is useful if your mind goes blank! Have a pen and paper to hand to take note of questions asked, or useful information relating to the job.
Think about your setup: Ensure you are familiar with the platform that your interviewer will use. Check your microphone and camera are working and do a trial run beforehand. Keep your background tidy and professional. In case your internet fails, have more than one point of contact for your interviewer – this shows reliability!
Have a glass of water nearby: In-person interviewers might provide a glass of water. Nerves can be unsettling, but having water gives you a chance to think. Don’t do yourself a disservice by not having water nearby.
Make eye contact: Stick a post-it note beside your camera to serve as a reminder for you to look there when talking, rather than at the interviewer’s faces on screen. The importance of eye contact cannot be overstated.
Avoid common non-verbal mistakes: Some forms of body language can hinder your interview performance: bad posture, fidgeting, overdoing gestures and not smiling.
Creative Access: They have a wide selection of blogs on their website, including this blog post on how to ace an interview with book publishers.
Twitter: Check out @pubinterns for industry insights and advice. Their blog post remains relevant to publishing hopefuls in 2021.
Atwood Tate: As one of the leading publishing recruitment companies, they have provided some useful advice regarding interview preparation on their website.
Thanks for reading our Upskilling Tips for Interviews! Join us again for Issue 29 where we will be sharing application tips.