City University – MA Publishing Digital Showcase

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.

Interview Tips & Advice #Inspiredtweetup

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Topic Three: Interviews

  • Streaming live from Oxford & London, we’re about to start our third live tweet-up..
  • This week we’re looking at Interview Tips, feel free to send us any questions!
  • Firstly, let’s kick off with the first things you should do when you’ve been invited for an interview..
  • Make sure you have all the relevant details so you can get cracking on planning getting yourself to the interview
  • If necessary, have a ‘practise run’ for your route – be sure you know how long the journey will take!
  • Do some research on the company – use their website, The Bookseller and LinkedIn
  • Get familiar with any developments, the main focus of the business and their market!
  • Mentally prepare yourself- do a practice run on competency questions
  • Have some examples ready of how you can prove that you have relevant skills and experience
  • Make LinkedIn work for you…check out your interviewers before you meet them
  • Do flatter them! Everyone likes a bit of ego stroking of their achievements, awards and prizes
  • See if they have an interesting background and everyone is impressed by you knowing something about their career
  • Know who their main competitors are and how they distinguish themselves in their market
  • Tricky questions: can you answer the biscuit question?
  • Make sure you prep questions that show your interest in their company
  • Ask a friend to really push you to answer those tricky questions…
  • What about company culture? Is there room for progression? What do the employers expect of new employees?
  • What are the training opportunities? What is the next stage of the interview process?
  • Ask about extra responsibilities that might not be on the job description…
  • Let’s move onto the big I-day…
  • Firstly. let’s be professional in your choice of clothes for those all important first 7 seconds impression!
  • Appearance – make sure you are neat and tidy, your hair is brushed, shoes polished and you are looking professional.
  • Don’t wear brand new clothes, you need to be comfortable
  • Avoid that lovely smelling fragrance! Check your breath? Double check those teeth after your pre-I coffee/snack
  • Arrive 10 minutes early – get focussed, calm and collected and into that interview zone!
  • Positive and open body language path the way for good impressions
  • Firm handshake, no limp lettuces!
  • Walk tall, exude self confidence, but not arrogance
  • Also back to basics on meeting new people: remember those manners
  • Remind yourself that the interviewers themselves might be nervous too- they’re also being interviewed by you
  • Make sure you’re using appropriate and professional language…definitely no swearing!
  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer
  • Smile! Be positive and enthusiastic, interviewers will respond to a good attitude
  • Demonstrate that you can bring something new, or give an example of a gap in the market you’ve observed
  • I’ve noticed you’re looking at developing throughout Latin America; this is an area I’m familiar with…’
  • Show you potential to ‘learn’- you should grow within a role, not already be able to do it all!
  • If you say you can do everything then they may think you’ll be bored in this role and will leave in a short space of time
  • Do highlight the areas that you do want to gain experience in, particularly for career development
  • Be able to talk through your career movements on your CV, making each move a positive one
  • If a role did not work out, be honest about why and what you have learnt. Keep to the FACTS!
  • Take an honest look at which parts of the required experience you lack
  • Plan how to address questions about how your transferable skills will allow you to make the transition into this role.
  • Don’t criticise a current or past employer, stay professional at all times
  • Now rounding off: ask your prepared questions, building up a discussion around these
  • Take in your CV and covering letter to interview – it sounds strange, but be familiar with it! Thank you your interviewers for their time and consideration
  • Be prepared for questions about your hobbies! the manager might be very interested in swordfighting/scuba diving/crocheting
  • Be yourself – if the fit is not right then it’s better to find this out now rather than pretending to be someone else
  • Finally, remember to bring your sense of humour! At the end of the day, it’s your personality that’s important for team fit
  • A few other things to think about..
  • So, some what ifs? What if I get sick? What if I’m late? What if I need to cancel? Use your common sense and communicate!
  • If you’re really sick, don’t drag yourself in, they won’t appreciate being passed on bugs
  • What if you don’t understand a question? be honest, ask them to rephase the question, and ask for time to respond
  • Have your phone charged, have taxi money, make sure you have the numbers to contact the company to apologise
  • What if you get lost: call them, they know how to locate themselves..
  • What if you go blank on your example? USE YOUR CV – look at your achievements, THERE are your examples
  • So everyone has lots of advice- follow what works for you.
  • We hope that was useful, please do email us any Q’s & sign up to our blog for details of the next one https://inspiredselection.wordpress.com/
  • For those who joined us at the end, all our tips will be published shortly on our blog https://inspiredselection.wordpress.com/
  • Subscribe to our blog as later today we’ll be posting details of a competition we’re running for five lucky people…
  • The five winners will have a chance to get some personalised interview advice through live interview videoing
  • Thanks to everyone that got involved, we’ve really enjoyed it.
  • To keep abreast of the latest publishing roles sign up to our free vacancy alerts http://www.inspiredselection.com/candidates/-/page/vacancy-update-service/
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  • Look forward to hearing from you!