The Scheme 2018

What made a good answer great?

Three simple questions.

Led to many good answers.

And so to make the final forty, good answers needed to become great.

Here’s how to do it. Shared because we don’t underestimate the time, energy and effort put in to the applications and because we hope, the next time you go for a role, the tips below might make all the difference to you.

Here are some general tips you might find helpful to consider when answering future questions.

Take a step back…

Exceptional answers stood out where candidates had really thought about what the question was asking them – they ‘unpicked’ the questions - and then figured out a way to clearly show, without leaving the assessor in any doubt, they had the qualities asked for. They ticked every box that the criteria outlined.

Put yourself in the marker’s shoes. Think to yourself….
“Why have they asked me this question?
What example could I use that will give them the most opportunity to give me a top score?”

It’s a bit like in school when you’re asked to ‘show your working out’.

Inspire and excite the marker with your answers, but try to highlight as much as possible that you’ve the specific qualities and skills needed for the role by showing how you got there.

Sometimes the best answers are the simplest…

And are just really well explained and detailed. Think of it as painting a picture for the marker. They need you to bring alive your ideas, thoughts and examples.

Now here are some specific tips…this is what took answers from good to great.

Question one: Plugging into what’s happening now - which could be anything from what’s trending on social media, or someone making waves in music or politics - whose story or ideas would you tell and why? Who would read (or listen to it) and how would you convince them to buy it?

We were looking for evidence of the following two qualities:

A hunger to learn (because editors are fascinated by what’s going on around them, wanting to find out more, especially when it comes to ideas, people and culture. They don’t leave it there though; they turn their insight into an opportunity and make the connections they’ve made relevant. That’s how they spot what’s hot next).

A love for ideas and stories (because working in editorial means an editor pours their passion into every book they help craft and bring alive, driven by the desire that their book has to be read, savoured or enjoyed by as many people as possible).

The range of ideas and creativity shared in answer to this question were really quite impressive.
The trick here was being able to take your idea and not just show your passion for it, but also spot and share where the opportunities might be to turn it to a bestseller. This doesn’t mean you need to be a marketing expert, more we were looking for you to show an awareness of who your audience might be. From there, recognising that different mediums work best for different stories - for example, could the story be told in a new way, such as a podcast series or VR? Is this an old story, told from a fresh perspective?

Question two: Tell us about a time that you won someone over. What was going on and how did you do it? Your example could be from anywhere - a difficult customer in the shop you work in, a school mate who messed around on your end of year project, a family member who needed persuading to do something.
We were looking for evidence of the following two qualities:

Your ability to connect with people (editors step into others' shoes, understanding their position and perspective, winning them over with their interest, curiosity and care).
Adaptability (editors learn to adapt when priorities change, or to make the most of new ideas when they emerge. They know when to flex their approach and style to suit the situation they’re in, or the person they’re with.)

Many of the answers shared did a pretty good job of showing how the person explained their point of view to someone else.

But we were looking for more.

Not just an explanation to the other person why you were right, but how you also stepped into their shoes, empathising with their point of view and changing your style and approach to get the best from them.
Here’s a simple example. If the person you’re trying to influence is a bit of a worrier, you might choose to research all the possible risks associated with your idea and plan how you overcome them, using this information to support your argument when you speak to them.

Question three: What are you most proud of and why? How did you make it happen?
We were looking for evidence of the following quality:

You make things happen (a story or idea doesn’t come to life on its own. In publishing, it happens when the tenacity and initiative the editor shows, the problems they’ve solved and solutions they’ve found, and the organising and prioritising they’ve done, pay off).

So many amazing achievements, and so much to be proud of. We read some brilliant answers.
But the ones that stood out were where you showed how you had made your goal a reality.
Which meant that you showed how you’d used your initiative, to come up with new ideas or solutions. And then demonstrated the tenacity to keep going, even when knocked back.
And whilst this was implied in many of the answers, the really strong responses focused on the ‘how’ part of the question and brought this alive for their reader.

We want to end with a huge thank you. We asked a lot of you, and you gave a lot.

Let’s keep talking.