Yesterday we participated in the final event for the City University Publishing MA students, their Digital Showcase and Interview Workshop. We were joined by several distinguished publishers and HR employees including Helen Kogan, the Managing Director of Kogan Page; Richard Charkin, the Executive Director of Bloomsbury; Chris Bond (Recruitment Project Lead) and Tom Dove-Wallington (Learning and Development Manager); Eric Huang, the Development Director of Mind Candy (previously of Penguin); and Andrew Franklin, the Managing Director of Profile, just to name a few!
This event consisted of a period in which students could show off their digital experience gained during the MA as well as the development of some of their ideas and applying their new skills to particular projects. Following this, we were able to pair off with the students in order to let them practice their interview skills as well as give them CV advice and tips for applications.
At the end, all of the guests were given the opportunity to address the room with final feedback, comments and advice. I advised the students that if they have been called for interview, that means the publisher has seen something on their CV/Covering letter which they really like. Therefore, go to the interview with confidence. It is also so important to know what their key strengths are and to use these to explain what value you could add to the organisation. Eric Huang added that in an interview, it is important to let your personality shine through so interviewers they are given the opportunity to make a connection with you. Chris Bond congratulated the students on being able to give very concrete examples of their experience but advised that there is a fine line between being too honest and too vague and this was the main area where students were currently struggling.
Key points of advice to be taken from the day’s guests were how important it is to make sure you come to an interview with ideas on how they can assist the organisation, not the other way around. Also, it is very important to not tell interviewers that you want to work in publishing because you love books, but to be able to explain why you want to work in a certain department and the process you went through to rule other areas. You must be able to persuade your interviewers that you are best fit for that particular role. Andrew Franklin, Managing Director of Profile, was particularly frank in his comments; he impressed upon the students the importance of being able to think fully digital in endeavours, that just having new print strategies is not good enough anymore. Finally, the Executive Director of Bloomsbury, Richard Charkin, congratulated the students on their hard work and wished everyone the best of luck with their future careers.
In summary, always go to an interview with confidence and show dedication to the role that you have applied for. As Victoria Fletcher of Hachette HR stated, if you have not thought hard about the area and what you bring to the table, the hiring managers will always see through you. Don’t be scared to come prepared with ideas on how different aspects of the business (relevant to the role) can be improved! Publishers want innovative and articulate candidates with personality.
These events are always hugely rewarding. It is exciting to see the great work these programs are doing to prepare the next generation of publishers as well as soak up all the sage advice given by those who have gone before. It is always a pleasure to be asked to participate in these types of events and we give a huge thanks to Mary Ann Kernan, the Programme Director, for inviting us year after year.