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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Tips for Job Interviews

By Sukhpreet Chana, Grace Edwards and Misha Manani 

The job market is competitive, and publishing is no exception. You should be proud if you receive an interview offer because it is difficult to even get past the application stage, with each role receiving hundreds of applications. It is important to know how to stand out from the crowd, especially at the interview because this is when hiring managers get to meet the person behind the CV and cover letter. Not only is the interview a chance for you to prove why you are a good fit for the role, with the necessary experience, skills and demonstrable interest, but it is also an opportunity for you to ask questions. With discussions around accessibility and the best interview practices emerging in recent years, the formats of interviews have also changed. 

We have collated our top tips so you can upskill for your next interview in publishing.

Types of Interview Questions

  • Situational: This type of question assesses how you would respond to certain scenarios that may arise in the publishing industry. These are typically difficult situations, and your response helps the interviewer figure out how you react under pressure. The type of scenario also depends on the department: for example, an editorial interview might ask a question related to agent and author care, and a publicity interview could pose a question related to a problem at an event. 

  • Competency-based: This is where you need to draw on your soft skills such as organisation, communication and attention to detail. Interviews often start with questions like, “Tell me about a time when…” This type of question gets you to draw on your experience. The best way to answer is by using the STAR Technique: Situation, Task, Action and Result. 

  • Motivational: This type of question asks where your drive and energy come from. Examples include: “Why do you want to work in publishing?” and “What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?”

  • Commercial awareness: These questions highlight your demonstrable interest in publishing and your wider knowledge of the business. You might be asked about trends in the industry, where you get your news from or what you think is the biggest challenge that the industry is facing. 

  • Case-based: You might have to do a small task in an interview that doesn’t involve preparation. For example, in an editorial interview, you might be shown book covers and asked about them so the interviewer can gauge your understanding of the market as a consumer. In a marketing interview, you might be asked to critique or compose a social media post. 

Virtual vs In-Person Interviews


  • Greater accessibility: Virtual interviews increase accessibility for candidates who are perhaps limited by factors like location, time constraints and travel costs. This is also beneficial for the hiring companies themselves as it attracts a wider pool of applicants. Following COVID-19 and its influence upon remote employment, 82% of employers reported that they use virtual interviews, with a further 93% of those employers planning to continue doing so (Forbes). 

  • Consider the challenges: These include connectivity or general technological issues, limited body language and environmental distractions. 


  • Benefits: This type of interview is the traditional and typically favoured way of meeting with potential employers. This is mainly because it is an opportunity to observe a company’s environment and work culture firsthand. It also allows for candidates to showcase professionalism and enthusiasm through personal connections to the best of their abilities.

  • Etiquette: This includes arriving early, dressing appropriately, bringing along a copy of your CV, with any other relevant documents, as well as some relevant questions to ask at the end of the interview.

  • Drawbacks: These include scheduling conflicts, travel costs and unexpected delays. It is always important to evaluate your own time availability and transportation routes before scheduling an in-person interview.

Top Tips 

  • Preparation: It is always helpful to prepare for any job interviews, for instance, considering any questions that are likely to come up and putting together some answers in advance. Research the company so you are aware of its mission statement and values and familiarise yourself with the job description.

  • Before the interview: For virtual interviews, make sure to join the meeting ten minutes early just in case there are disruptions via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. For in-person interviews, it is best to plan your journey in advance to avoid being late. First impressions count, so ensure you make it a good one: be professional and punctual by prioritising timekeeping.

  • During the interview: When it comes to this stage, remain calm and confident and try your best to answer the questions. Listen carefully to each question so you can provide a clear and concise answer. Have a positive attitude and remember to smile!

  • After the interview: It is always a good tip to ask questions about the titles on the company or imprint’s list, or whether there are learning and development opportunities in the role because to do so demonstrates interest and enthusiasm. If you have not heard anything from a recruiter regarding the outcome of the interview, then send a follow-up email asking for feedback because this shows that you are proactive. 

Thank you for reading issue eighty-nine! Join us again for issue ninety, where we cover Upskilling Tips for CVs. 


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