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HarperCollins Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Would you consider yourself a creative person?

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HarperCollins Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Would you consider yourself a creative person?

      Talk to the interviewer about any interest that you have in creative activities and how you have implemented your creative desires in the workplace. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a 'creative person,' there is a significant change that you have made creative minded decisions in your career.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "That's an interesting question for me because I have never considered myself creative in the traditional sense of being artistic. I am, however, a very creative individual when it comes to new ways to motivate my team."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am creative in the sense that I am great at seeing all sides of a negotiation, I can use creativity to close a deal, and I am a solid writer. With that said, give me a paintbrush, and I will have no idea what to do. I suppose creativity comes in all forms!"

  2. 2.

    What will you accomplish in the first 90 days of working for HarperCollins?

      HarperCollins is in the top 5 publishers in the world, with over $1.5B in annual revenue and some of the most notable book releases in the world. You should come prepared for your interview with an exceptional plan of action, ensuring that you will be a substantial addition to their company from the start.

      It's a good idea to have a 30, 60, and 90-day plan set out when you go into an interview. This approach is especially important when you are applying to a management or sales based position where there are expectations of immediate action and results. You can jot down a few ideas or create a slide presentation with graphs - whatever makes you most comfortable! You can discuss numbers, training achievements, pain points the interviewer has mentioned in the past, or how you plan to fit in with your new team.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In the first 90 days, I plan to establish and manage a growth strategy for Facebook, Instagram and new platforms for your magazine, Harper's Magazine. I will establish and manage a community engagement strategy for Facebook, Instagram, and new platforms for the brand. In addition to this, I plan to establish a vision and creative growth strategy for each brand's already robust newsletter program, in collaboration with the HarperCollins newsletter team. It's important that I help maintain a consistent voice for each brand on social platforms."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In the first 90 days, I plan to fast-track my training by spending time on the weekends and evenings studying hard. I believe in doing everything faster and better so you will see results and accomplishments from me very quickly. I want to be on a full retail sales budget in the first 60 days as opposed to your typical 90 days."

  3. 3.

    Do you believe paid social campaigns are useful for promoting book releases, and if so, why?

      The interviewer asks this question because as social media platforms mature, they are becoming a more significant part of promoting book releases, and other publications that may not even had a digital focus. Most publishers have recognized how social media can further enhance their targeting and reach when it comes to book promotions. As part of a progressive publishing house, it's essential to know why paid social promotions are helpful.

      If you take the position that paid ad campaigns are not useful, your answer will be considered to be wrong. While paid campaigns don't always deliver perfect results, sponsored content gains priority over that which is not.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I believe that paid social platforms are more important than ever, and while having a good audience and engagement helps increase your content's visibility organically, it's almost impossible to achieve the same results through organic reach only. A paid campaign is useful in restoring that visibility. It can also be beneficial to run paid campaigns because the social media platforms provide tools to analyze their progress, make adjustments to them as you go, and monitor your ROI."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In recent years, it has become clear that social media platforms prefer paid campaigns versus organic reach. Algorithms set by the platforms often do not allow a company's content to be seen on their audience's feeds without paying for it to appear to certain members. Now, this is where a publisher can benefit from paid advertising the most. With a paid campaign, they essentially tap into the platform's data on their users by specifying the demographic their content will be visible to. This enables them to engage only with people that are likely to be interested in their publications or latest book releases."

  4. 4.

    What are your 3 favorite forms of entertainment?

      The interviewer would like to know the types of media and entertainment that you enjoy consuming regularly. Talk to the interviewer about your favorite forms of entertainment and be sure to include why they are your top choice.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My favorite forms of entertainment have always been podcasts, sci-fi fiction book series, and nature magazines. I have always wanted to work in the publishing industry, being the first to read new books from up-and-coming authors, and having a hand in the type of published literature that people are gifted."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "There are so many great forms of entertainment media available to us. I am more traditional and would say that my favorite forms still include print media, documentaries, and podcasts that focus on economics and business."

  5. 5.

    What are your career goals in the next 3-5 years with HarperCollins?

      Assure the interviewer that you are interested in forging a long-term career with them by discussing the career path you foresee if hired. What are your career goals, and how do you hope to achieve them, with HarperCollins?

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In the next few years I would like to move into a more serious leadership function, such as the Executive Managing Editor opening currently posted. In my current company, there is little room for growth, which is why I feel that working for HarperCollins would fit into my long-term career goals. I want to work for you and grow into a leadership role with your organization."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "5 years from now, I would like to be supervising or managing a team of my own. Your Associate Product Manager position caught my eye. I feel like I am progressing at a rate that will make this a possibility, and am committing to learn more about metadata optimization, acquisition strategy, and retail strategy to help make that happen in my career."

  6. 6.

    The publishing industry has many tight deadlines. How do you manage your time, ensuring that your deadlines are met?

      The interviewer would like to know what you do to ensure that your deadlines are met and that you are consistently on time with projects and other expectations. Discuss how you stay organized, getting into the small details of how you plan your day or the tools you use to track your work and progress. You can mention a time when you were close to missing a deadline, including the actions that you took to ensure you delivered on time.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "With five years' experience in the publishing industry, I fully understand that my day can change on a dime. I remain on top of my deadlines by being prepared for a plan B at all times. Also, I track my progress and tasks through an app called Trello. This type of application works well for communicating with my team, ensuring we all work hard to meet expectations."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I learned during my time in university that deadlines are met most easily when there is organization and when tasks are properly mapped out from the start. I learned the hard way, having to cram in a few assignments because I was not well prepared. Now, when I begin a project, I create a timeline with an estimate on how long each task will take. From there, I divide my time."

  7. 7.

    Name for me your three favorite books, and why they are your favorite.

      Since HarperCollins publishes books, the hiring managers want to make sure they are bringing on a team member with a passion for books and reading! There is no wrong answer to this question. Open up about your favorite literary works.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I love reading and try to pick up a new novel at least once per month. I read a variety of genres; however, my all time favorite book series is the Harry Potter series. I have read through the entire book series about three times. The way JK Rowling builds a world of suspense and magic never becomes tiresome."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My top three favorite books happen to be across multiple genres. One is 'All the Lives We Never Lived' by Anuradha Roy. This novel is by a renowned Indian writer who brings in stories from childhood with a theme of independence and finding oneself. The other is 'Becoming' by Michelle Obama, a memoir of the former First Lady. Lastly, the book of poetry by Rupi Kaur called 'Milk and Honey.' Her poetry is dark and beautiful."

  8. 8.

    A large part of creating digital content is in the creative process, but what strategic elements need to be considered for content creation to be highly effective?

      HarperCollins has a heavy hand in digital content and online publishing. Demonstrate your familiarity with content effective marketing by speaking of data and analytics first. Then, talk about other essential non-creative parts of content strategy that should be incorporated.

      While the creative and strategic elements of content creation will cross over into one another, avoid talking about the creative process when answering this question much, if at all.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "A content marketing strategy always starts with data about the audience to ensure the content is appropriately created and distributed. The data will tell you what kind of content your audience will enjoy, where and how you can expect them to consume it. Timing is also important, and research can be used to figure out the best times of the month, week, and down to the time of day when posts will get the best visibility. After forming and deploying a content plan, it's important to be consistent with analyzing the performance of all posts, which means looking at various engagement metrics like impressions, clicks, shares, likes, and comments - not just the number of comments but what's being said by the audience. All of the before mentioned, lets you measure the success of your plan and make continuous improvements."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Data from different sources, for example, keyword research, surveys, or machine learning, needs to be analyzed to plan the best possible content and its reach, both organically and during paid promotions. Planning what topics to cover, keeping an editorial calendar, and knowing how to recycle posts effectively are important parts of creating a feeling of consistency and the proper messaging for a brand's audience. Lastly, it's a good idea to balance the human element with automation tools that will allow your content to be distributed in a timely and organized way that best fits the preferences of your audience."

  9. 9.

    Tell me about your experience collaborating with marketing, sales, editorial, and design teams.

      The hiring authority is looking for details on your experience when it comes to cross-departmental collaboration. In publishing, it takes many passes through many hands to complete a project so, it's essential to HarperCollins that you can work well with other people through a variety of departments. Give an example of how you collaborate with a diverse team, in your current role.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In my current role we have a staff of 450 people within ten departments. Any given week, I will collaborate with marketing, sales, human resources, and IT. These are the departments with which I collaborate most often. I believe that everyone has a great deal of value to offer so, for that reason, I embrace every opportunity to collaborate cross-departmentally."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I look forward to getting to know your marketing, editorial, and design teams here at HarperCollins. Currently, in my internship, I have spent two weeks in each department, getting to know the ins and outs of publishing, design, marketing, sales, and even public relations. The experience has been invaluable."

  10. 10.

    Market research is essential to HarperCollins to help us understand where to take our business in the years to come. Rate your research skills from 1-10. Do you enjoy conducting research?

      In the media and publishing industry, research and reliable sources are everything. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of conducting robust and dependable research. Draw on your positive references when answering this question.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "One of the reasons why I would love to work for HarperCollins is because of your solid reputation for reputable sources and research. In my previous positions, I have always earned recognition for my great research skills. When you call my references, they will attest to this as well. There is always room for improvement, so for that reason, I would rate myself as an 8.5 out of 10 for research capabilities."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "When it comes to research capabilities, I am most definitely a 10/10. An eleven even, if that is allowed! I love researching a large range of products and am very data and analytically minded."

  11. 11.

    If you could be known as a thought leader across any topic or industry, which would you choose?

      HarperCollins would like to get to know you better, and the topics for which you are most passionate. If you could be represented and widely known for your knowledge on any subject or industry; which would you choose? Express your interest and enthusiasm to the agent, showing them why they should pick you up for their talent roster.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The books I read are primarily mystery, thriller, and drama. If I could be known as an expert on any topic, it would be for true crime stories. I have conducted a great deal of research on these topics and am comfortable teaching many psychology-based concepts to others."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "One topic I am most passionate about is the topic of writing, itself. I would love to be known as an expert in writing non-fiction pieces and teaching other aspiring writers how to come up with best-selling concepts."

  12. 12.

    How can HarperCollins motivate you on the job?

      Every employer should know how each staff member is best motivated. Talk to the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you are best motivated on the job. Here are some ways that an employer may try to motivate you. Which ones resonate most with you?

      - Incentive programs where points are earned
      - Showing complete trust in your work and performance
      - Setting smaller, more achievable goals
      - Helping you to find your higher career purpose
      - Being a positive example to you
      - Maintaining an open and transparent workplace
      - Personalized incentives vs. Team driven incentives
      - Getting to know you on a personal level
      - Positive feedback based rewards system
      - Offering a stable work/life balance by encouraging time off
      - Letting you know your voice matters
      - Allowing you to take the lead on projects that excite you
      - Handing out big-picture projects, so you feel that you are contributing to the company's future
      - Public recognition

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am best motivated through words of praise and recognition for a job well done. I do like to know that my efforts are noticed. In my current position, we have a team leaderboard, and I do like that concept because it creates a healthy bit of personal competition for me as well."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am motivated by skills advancement opportunities. My previous employer put me through a technical writing course as well as two advanced Excel workshops. That was motivating to me."

  13. 13.

    What is the key to success for a publisher in this digital era?

      The digital world is transforming traditional publishing, and the interviewer wants to know what you believe to be the key to success amidst this shift. Discuss what you think a publishing company should do, in this digital era, to remain successful and relevant. Keep your response positive rather than shifting into negative language. For instance, mention what is great about this digital era versus focusing on the hardships.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I believe the key to success for a publisher in this digital era is to remain relevant in your core area, while also exploring the ways that digital can complement your existing products. If you are a traditional book publisher, for instance, why not explore the impact that a social media campaign could have for a new author. As in any industry, it's critical that we remain up to date with technology so that we are always meeting our audience where they are showing up."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The key to success in publishing, and many other industries is listening to your customers and taking action on what they are teaching you. For instance, in the publishing industry, it's critical that we deliver works on topics that people are searching for, and seeking out. We can accomplish this approach through surveys, polls, purchased data, and even some analytics on Google algorithms."

  14. 14.

    Walk me through your editing experience. How would you rate your editing skills from 1-10?

      Even if your primary role with HarperCollins is not officially as an editor, the interviewer will want to see that you have a solid basis when it comes to language, context, tone, grammar, spelling, and more. Emphasize your solid command of the language, and your ability to pay attention to the small details. Discuss the types of editing jobs you have taken on, in the past.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have helped to edit documents large, and small, including whitepapers, web copy, and sales contracts. I am confident in my language, spelling, and grammar skills. It's rare that a mistake will get past me, as I pay strong attention to the small details."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Although I have not formally edited a document of significance, I do always make a habit of double checking my emails and other internal or external communication. I have used editing programs such as Grammarly in the past, for assignments and papers while attending university."

  15. 15.

    Is compensation the most critical factor for you when taking a new job?

      The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on pay when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors in a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:

      - work/life balance
      - amount of travel involved in the role
      - overall medical and health benefits
      - additional perks such as car allowance, cell allowance, spending account
      - amount of vacation time
      - the type of clients or authors you would be working with
      - career growth opportunity
      - the size of your new team
      - the company's reputation
      - overall workplace culture

      Talk to the interviewer about other factors that are important to you when considering a new job. If you are not sure on details for this role, you can ask!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "For me, as a manager, the most important factor in accepting a new role is the health of the company, and it's employees. I am looking to take on a positive-minded team. I like to work with enthusiastic people that I can motivate. With that said, I am also looking for a competitive financial offer."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "At this point in my career, I am looking to join a publisher that will allow me to work on more significant projects and with more robust tech and applications. Compensation is a driver, of course, but not the only one."

  16. 16.

    What do you know about HarperCollins?

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  17. 17.

    Describe to me the types of digital media you are most experienced with.

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  18. 18.

    What is the difference between a publisher's frontlist and backlist?

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  19. 19.

    How do you go about fact checking, and researching sources?

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  20. 20.

    What are the benefits for an author to publish with HarperCollins versus self-publishing?

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  21. 21.

    How would you increase printed book sales in an online-centric world?

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  22. 22.

    How do you transition between the creative and analytical sides of publishing?

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  23. 23.

    What drew you to HarperCollins?

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  24. 24.

    In which area are you the strongest: editorial, book sales, or book marketing?

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  25. 25.

    Who is your favorite author, and why?

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  26. 26.

    What can HarperCollins do best, for an up and coming author?

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  27. 27.

    If you could pitch me one idea for a book,what would it be?

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  28. 28.

    With which publishing categories are you most familiar? How will this knowledge help you in this position with HarperCollins?

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  29. 29.

    In your opinion, what is the most influential form of media today?

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  30. 30.

    What do you expect to be the most significant trend in publishing this year?

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