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Top 20 Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Interviews can be nerve racking and with many interviews now being conducted remotely it can be more difficult to appear relaxed and be able to get your personality across.  Whatever structure your interview takes and whatever level of role you are being interviewed for, the one things that remains unchanged is that preparation is still the key. The more you prepare the better chance of success you have.

There is a huge amount of advice out there to help you nail your interview, but we have put together a reminder of our top 20 tips for a successful interview.

1              BE PREPARED

2              BE PUNTUAL AND IF USING TECHNOLOGY TEST IN ADVANCE

3              SMILE & BE FRIENDLY

4              DON’T PANIC

5              RE-READ YOUR APPLICATION LETTER AND CV

6              BE ENTHUSIASTIC

7              BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY

8              TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER YOUR ANSWERS

9              DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ROLE

10           DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY’S COMPETITORS

11           PREPARE ANSWERS TO COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

12           HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS AND APPLY THEM TO THE JOB ROLE

13           FRAME ANY WEAKNESSES POSITIVELY

14           PREPARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK

15           CLEARLY DEFINE WHY YOU WANT THIS PARTICULAR ROLE

16           KEEP PROFESSIONAL THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW

17           DON’T WAFFLE OR GO OFF AT TANGENTS

18           DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADMIT IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING

19           ASK ABOUT NEXT STAGES AND TIMELINE

20           FOLLOW UP AND CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST

Good luck!

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Why a diverse workforce can pay dividends

Creating a more diverse workforce should not just be seen as something to improve a company’s reputation or just used as a box ticking exercise, it should be recognised for something that will give you a competitive advantage and therefore ultimately increase success and profits.

Creating a team with different backgrounds and characteristics will enable you to challenge your thoughts and look at things from different perspectives, which in turn increases your creativity.

Research by Josh Bersin shows that companies who are the most inclusive are, amongst other benefits, 1.8 times more likely to be ‘change-ready’ which in today’s market is certainly a crucial skill to harness.

It is well documented that Publishing is an industry that has struggled with diversity and its ability or willingness to publish books that can appeal to and reach multiple audiences and although obviously not the complete answer, rethinking hiring practices has to be a starting point. As the recent well publicised academic study on diversity in trade fiction and the publishing industry Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing suggests ‘hiring more people who belong to marginalised communities will benefit publishers strongly in terms of helping them tap into new audiences – but only if they are given the resources and freedom to do this work’.  It goes on to say ‘while it is tempting to hire the person who fits in with the ‘culture’ of a publishing house, hiring people who do not fit the typical mould might in fact reap the biggest rewards if they are given the freedom and space to express themselves’.

As an agency and partner in our client’s recruitment, we take this responsibility seriously and do everything possible to facilitate the broadest possible reach and range of potential talent to offer them. To help combat ‘unconscious bias’, we can offer more standardised CVs which can include:

  • Removing candidate’s names
  • Removing university names
  • Removing current or previous employer details

We work with our clients to continually challenge our perceptions and some clients are asking us to specifically include a certain range of candidates where at all possible ie at least 1 female candidate, at least 1 male candidate (for roles such as editorial that have traditionally attracted mostly females) and at least 1 BAME candidate.  Where this is not possible, we are able to show that we have been fully inclusive with our searching and advertising criteria.  More and more clients are also opening their selection criteria to candidates outside of publishing, where this is possible.

As an agency, we encourage transparency when advertising new opportunities, particularly with salaries, as keeping salaries secret can increase discrimination. A candidate could be chosen simply because they are able or willing to accept a lower salary. To attract the right candidates to a company we need to look not only at their relevant ‘hard skills’ but also whether they are aligned to the company’s values and priorities. Transparency at an early stage, both with salaries and company culture, not only builds trust but also wastes less time. Even if we are not able to advertise the salary, we only approach candidates that we think are in the right bracket and do not put any candidates forward without them being aware of what the salary and other benefits are likely to be. We do not only look at the candidate’s current salary to determine whether they are a fit for the role, we look at whether they are qualified for the role, regardless of their current salary.

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Now could be a great time to try freelancing

Are you thinking about freelancing?

Freelancing can offer great flexibility and a chance to ‘be your own boss’ and now may be a great time to give it a go.  Whether you are looking to build a long term freelancing career or find interim work whilst looking for the right permanent opportunity, a lot of the same challenges and rewards apply.

If looking for a permanent job, getting some freelance experience will be great for your CV and will offer you the chance of increasing your connections.

First you need to decide what skills and experience you have to offer ie experience in social media marketing/general online marketing, experience of designing book covers or experience of editing technical content. 

Whatever this is can be your main offering but being open to new skills and continued learning is essential if you want to sustain a full-time freelance career.  There is so much training available online that you can teach yourself almost anything to either get more advanced with a current skill or learn a new skill.  See our recent blog on upskilling yourself online.  The more skills you have to offer the more successful you can be.

Once you are clear what you can offer potential clients, you can go about finding these clients and letting them know about your service.  Start with your existing network of contacts and build from here.  Advertise on social media channels and consider memberships of appropriate societies where you can advertise yourself and learn from other members.  BookMachine are currently partnering with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading to offer CIEP free membership in August.

Whatever freelancing services you want to offer there are some key qualities that you will need and that publishers will be looking for:

  • Confidence in your ability
  • Accuracy
  • Self-motivation and discipline
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
  • An understanding of your target market
  • Value for money
  • Being organised and adhering to deadlines

Showcasing as many of these skills as possible when approaching potential clients will give you a greater chance of success.

Once you have had some experience, you can start asking for testimonials and referrals which is a great way of building your network further. Also hopefully you will start to get repeat business and regular assignments.

Good luck!

More resources:

Working as a freelancer and Tips for freelancers from The Publishing Training Centre

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Helping candidates get a ‘foot in the door’

We know that many people are currently worried about their job prospects and as an employment agency we are keen to help in any way we can.  We are particularly concerned for those trying to enter the job market for the first time and have invited our publisher clients to promote any graduate schemes, paid internships or work experience through us (free of any charge). 

Details of publishing internships / publishing work experience / publishing graduate schemes will be posted here on our blog, promoted on our social media and shared with our registered job seekers.

If you’re a publisher or company in the publishing industry or supply chain, please get in touch with Claire Law at clairelaw@atwoodtate.co.uk

If you’d like more info on getting into publishing, we’ve got a blog post with lots more info: Work Experience & Entry Level Resources


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Carry on Reading…

With bookshops now starting to reopen, we hope that this is going to be a much needed boost for us all. With evidence showing that reading books has surged in lockdown we are all hoping that this trend will continue and now that people are able to visit bookshops, translate into further increased sales.

According to Nielsen Book’s research, 41% of people said they were reading more books during this period and many have almost doubled the hours they have spent reading per week. There have been stories from parents that have been delighted to see their teenage children grow back in love with reading. Hopefully this trend will continue and those that have found a new love of books will keep on benefitting.

For those of us that are struggling to read during these unsettling times, it is worth persevering. Try reading something lighter than you would usually choose if you are finding it harder to concentrate. It is well documented that reading can have many health benefits including reducing stress levels, lowering our blood pressure and helping combat depression. It can also improve our memory and empathy and generally make us feel more positive. This is in addition to the more obvious benefits of increasing our knowledge and challenging our imagination. In these current times the opportunity to have a ready form of entertainment with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in escapism seems even more welcome and valuable.

So whether you are finding that you read more or less during lockdown – the message is clear – support your well-being and our industry by carrying on reading!

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How Leaders Can Give Hope and Inspiration, Even in These Uncertain Times

Leading in uncertain times…

Many people will be looking to leaders, for some hope and inspiration, to get them through these uncertain times ahead.

According to Gallop, what people primarily need in their leader, is a clear path forward.  If we have this, then as human beings we are amazingly resilient, known as the ‘rally effect’.  During extraordinary times like this pandemic, it becomes even more important for leaders to clearly communicate this path and then to inspire confidence in their workforce to get through this difficult period by working as a team. You do not need to be overly optimistic or unrealistic, but you do need to give hope and encouragement.

In times of panic, it is easy to micromanage. To show trust, give your staff more autonomy rather than less and encourage them to see the bigger picture. By showing faith in them, it will allow them to help you come up with the best solutions.  When times are tough, people are afraid of losing their jobs. This fear often prevents them from freely making suggestions and observations that might lead to improved outcomes, as they don’t want to rock the boat.  If you want to motivate your employees and get the best out of them, you need to make them feel safe rather than fearful.  It is crucial that leaders don’t show panic, as employees often model their behaviour, particularly in times of crisis.  It does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers – it just means that they need to provide hope that things will eventually improve and give practical suggestions on steps to take on the path to recovery.

None of us know how long this situation is going to last or what the long term effects will be but knowing that the leadership has a clear plan of action and that they care about their employee’s health and well-being, will go a long way towards them feeling confident and secure.  They need to know that their contributions are valued and integral to the future success of the business.  If we can learn and adapt together, there is a much greater chance of coming through this testing time, both stronger and more resilient.

In the meantime, do not forget to celebrate the wins, however small and praise your team for things they are doing well.  Positivity breeds positivity, even in times of crisis.

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What will life look like back in the office?

Returning to the workplace…

Recent government announcements suggest that anyone unable to work from home, should now where possible, start to return to their workplaces.  This is straight-forward advice for industries that cannot work from home but what about those of us that have a choice?  How can we decide the right time to do this and the best way to do this?  The most important thing is to start planning now, in order to do this safely and most effectively, when the time is right.

The last couple of months has turned everything we did and thought on its head, including our attitudes to home working. Working from home is no longer seen as just an employee benefit for the minority, instead it has and will continue to be a core part of business planning. We have now learnt that it is possible for many of us to work from home and whilst there are undoubtedly some negatives, there are lots of obvious positives that many people will be keen to continue benefitting from.  The future challenge for businesses will be how much they can and should continue to offer flexibility, once it is not forced upon them and what the trade-offs will be in doing so.

According to a survey by job board Totaljobs 49% of people are looking forward to returning to work so managing how we introduce our staff back into the office and arriving at solutions that are safe and sustainable is the immediate challenge.  Most experts think that this ‘management phase’ of the covid-19 crisis, is likely to last well into next year, so getting it right is crucial.  In order to decide who to bring back first, you will need to think about what roles you absolutely need to have in the office and plan accordingly.  For example facilities and IT may be among the first to bring back so that they can help plan and implement the rest. Technology infrastructure will play a key part as it will need to continue to support some level of home working for those that cannot come back into the office. The more agile and flexible your systems are, the more you will be able to react to future disruptions ie if we get a large second peak of infections.  It will also enable you to offer flexible working as a long-term benefit. 

The CIPD have published a guide to returning to the workplace and they encourage all businesses to ensure that they meet three keys tests before bringing people back into the office:

  • Is it essential?
  • Is it sufficiently safe?
  • Is it mutually agreed?

The guide includes lots of practical advice on areas such as risk management and the importance of communicating the new rules and procedures. It also has lots of information on how the government’s new extended, more flexible furlough scheme can help. There are links to other useful information including the government guidance for working safely in offices.

What is clear, is that in order to keep to the government’s social distancing guidelines, most of us will not be able to go back into our offices exactly as we left them.  Unless we are able to take extra space, we will need to reduce the number of employees at work at any one time.  This could be done in a variety of ways, from shift patterns to rotational days or weeks, but ultimately will probably require some mixture of home and office working.

Managing all these additional challenges, as well as trying to keep business going will require all of us to work together. Clear communication and thorough planning will be vital. Showing that you are putting the health and well-being of your employees at the heart of all the decisions so that they feel supported and valued will be even more important in these challenging uncertain times.

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Don’t be Afraid of Remote Recruiting

Some people are understandably nervous of recruiting under the current constraints of social distancing, but this could be the perfect time for you to test ‘remote recruiting’.  Many people think that remote working could be the new norm, so how do those without experience of this adjust and make it work when recruiting new staff?

It is not necessary to put all recruitment on hold until everyone is back in the office – it is possible to recruit remotely – many companies have done this on a regular basis before it became a reality for us all.  Whether you want to consider this as just an interim measure or a more permanent solution, making this work will not only help you to keep your business moving in the current climate but may also be used as an attractive option for the future.  Being able to offer a mixture of remote and office based employment will not only present cost savings but also make you more attractive to future employees. 

Whilst many of us may be used to some form of remote interviewing, taking this one step further to ‘on-board’ new staff remotely may seem daunting and more of a challenge.  We all know how important the first days and weeks of new employment are, both for the candidate and the client, so it is extremely important to get this right, whether in an office or a remote location.  It is obviously important to make sure that your remote employee has the right equipment and technology and that you think about how your existing processes can be adapted to work in a remote setting. With the wide range of video and communication options that are available it is easy to have face to face regular contact wherever your staff are based and getting regular feedback from your new employee will ensure that you arrive at solutions that work for you both.  Our recent blog Remote induction of a new member of staff during the lockdown gives some useful tips on things you will need to consider.  REC business partner Howden has created a hub of resources to help employers manage employee wellbeing and includes a very useful 13 page guide to welcoming new team members remotely (towards the bottom half of the page) on On-boarding in a virtual world.

Many of our clients now recruiting remotely, with no previous experience of this, are finding that starting new employees on a part-time basis has helped them.  This has allowed them to adjust in a more manageable way.

The current situation has proved conclusively that flexibility in working patterns can work and that you don’t physically have to be in the same space to make decisions and work as a team. The enforced lockdown that arrived without warning has meant we have all needed to adapt and live and work in different ways.  There may be many negatives that we have all experienced from this but hopefully there will also be some positives that will help us all continue to build robust businesses that can thrive wherever we are based.

Further reading:

Here’s a quote from a candidate we placed recently: https://blog.atwoodtatepublishingjobs.co.uk/candidate-testimonials

Guardian article: The new rules of remote recruiting

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Use your time positively to upskill yourself online

Now may be the perfect time to upskill yourself. With millions of us forced to stay at home, it is a great time to take advantage of access to numerous free online courses and information. This will not only add to your future employability but also give you a focus, particularly if you are currently not employed or furloughed.

The department of education has launched a fantastic set of resources The Skills Toolkit.

This offers free digital and numeracy courses at various levels and covers topics such as the fundamentals of digital marketing and the effective use of social media.  With 82% of jobs requiring digital skills, increasing your knowledge in these areas is always going to be useful. It is also a great way to add to your CV and gives the opportunity to link what you have learnt to a required competence in a job vacancy.  You can use these resources as a simple introduction to various topics or move onto more advanced concepts within the courses to really master skills, such as learning to write your own computer programs.

Job descriptions often ask for a good level of Microsoft Office, particularly Excel (check out v lookups and pivot tables), practice some Powerpoint and InDesign basics too.

One particular skill that many of us are having to grapple more with is how to optimize productivity whilst working remotely.  LinkedIn is offering hours of content on various aspects of working from home, to help you or your teams https://www.linkedin.com/learning/paths/remote-working-setting-yourself-and-your-teams-up-for-success.  

Up tech also have plenty of advice on how you can leverage productivity tools to support remote working https://uptech.team/blog/coronavirus-remote-work.

You could also consider using your time to teach others new skills. This will not only make you feel more positive and empowered but hopefully help the person you are teaching to feel this too.

Don’t forget you can also practice your more creative skills so write a diary or blog, try cooking some new dishes, learn a language – these will also be good content for your CV.

Good luck!

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Staying sane during the lockdown

Continuing with our theme to share ideas and tips for working and living through these strange times, we thought we’d suggest some ideas on keeping your mind fresh whilst staying at home.

Continuing with our theme to share ideas and tips for working and living through these strange times, we thought we’d suggest some ideas on keeping your mind fresh whilst staying at home.

From Clare Chan:

If you are working from home, why not create a standing workstation?

For the past weeks, I have been working at my desk sitting down.  I increasingly felt a need to break this habit to sharpen my mind so I decided to work standing.  If you don’t have a tall table? Try using books or perhaps a small stool. Working standing up keeps my mind sharp and active. I am also able to concentrate on my work much better so why not give it a go!

Find a new exercise

Very frankly, I am not the best cyclist. Living in London for quite a few years now, I have never cycled on the road.  This weekend, I jumped on a Santander bike as my once a day exercise. It was terrifying at first, but by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone makes you feel much more refreshed and stimulated, especially we are now spending a lot of time at home and might get a bit too comfortable at times.

Take a virtual museum tour

Miss travelling around the world and going to museums? Google Art & Culture has everything you need to keep yourself entertained.  It has virtual tours from the Pyramids to Anne Frank’s Family Home.  They also have over 3,400 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours of some of the most famous museums around the world.  Still bored? They have an Art Selfie function where you can see who you look like in the world of paintings!

From Claire Law:

It can feel like the weeks are starting to blur a bit now and it’s important to make sure we look after our mental health as well our physical. I’m much better at making myself do exercise, partly so I can eat and drink what I want but also as I (usually) enjoy it! It’s harder to remember to make an effort to look after our minds so here are some of my ideas:

Keep a diary / log of things that made you happy each day

I have a beautiful little book I try to fill in (admittedly I don’t do it every day) with at least a couple of things that made me smile that day.

Make time for some gentle meditation

There are lots of free apps out there you can use to help you relax / sleep / stay calm. We don’t want to recommend any particular one (I use Headspace but there are lots of other ones, try this search for a selection: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/g25178771/best-meditation-apps/

Have a routine

Even if you’re not working right now, it’s a good idea to have a routine in place so you get up, get dressed and find time to do a mixture of things. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at a normal time. If you are working then make sure you take proper breaks and try to leave your workspace behind while eating.

Make time each day to communicate with friends and family, maybe keep in touch with at least 1 friend each day, by phone, email or post.

Please share some of your ideas with us!

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