Applying for a Job in Publishing: Interview Tips

December 6, 2012

Congratulations! You’ve written an attractive, informative, and enticing cover letter and resume for your dream job! Your potential boss is super impressed with your qualifications and written and technical abilities, and she or he is just dying to meet you! So the LAST thing you want to do is mess up your interview.

What should you wear? How early should you arrive? What should you bring? How should you say hello? Goodbye? What kind of questions should you ask?


UTP Journals is here, once again, to save the day. Below are 11 “tips from the trenches” based on a combined 30+ years of experience in interviewing candidates for (mostly entry-level) publishing jobs.

1.   Don’t put it on your resume unless you’re prepared to talk about it during your interview.

2.   Publishing is a small world (and it’s not the only industry where that’s true). Resist the temptation to tell us how much your last job, your last company, or your last boss sucked.

3.   If you have to tell us during your interview how personable you are, chances are you are not very personable.

4.   We understand that interviewing can be stressful and that talking to strangers about your work history may not be your favourite thing. (We’re quite likely to be introverts, too – especially if we work in Editorial.) We try to be friendly and to make you feel comfortable and welcome. In return, though, we would really like it if you would take off your coat, make eye contact now and then, and answer our questions with at least a full sentence.

5.   Practise your handshake! The object is not to fracture people’s metacarpals, but you also don’t want them to feel like they’re grabbing a dead fish.

6.   Please don’t eat garlic bread right before your interview. Also, if you’re chewing breath-freshening gum (and we wouldn’t want to discourage that), please spit it out before you arrive.

7.   Arriving late for your interview time is an obvious no-no, but don’t let that tempt you to arrive 45 minutes early (which makes us feel rushed and conveys the impression that you aren’t very good at planning and time management). Don’t condemn yourself to 45 minutes of fidgeting in our lobby — if you’re that early, go and have a nice relaxing cup of tea somewhere, and come back five minutes before your scheduled interview time.

8.   We don’t expect you to dress like a lawyer, but if you want to make a good impression, try to dress toward the more formal end of the environment you expect to be working in. Also, check your outfit for food stains and missing buttons – especially if your resume describes you as “detail-oriented.”

9.   Don’t lie. Seriously, just don’t. Nothing good can come of it.

10.  You can learn a lot about us by visiting our website. Read the job posting, poke around on the website, and then be prepared to make a connection between who we are, what we do, what we need, and what you can do for us.

11.  Send us a thank-you note! (By email – it’s faster.) Not only is it good manners, it’s another opportunity to impress us with your communication skills, ask questions about the position, and emphasize what makes you the right person for the job.

There you have them — 11 helpful tips that, if followed, are sure to boost your position on the “to hire” scale. Now go out there and knock ’em dead!

Do you have a favourite interview tip? Share it with us! Post your interview tips on our Facebook page, or tweet us!

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