Congrats! After weeks (or months) of emailing resumes, scheduling informationals, and of course, checking Ed’s Whisper Jobs ’round the clock, you’ve finally landed that dream-job interview. Now that you’ve got your big break, Ed wants to make sure that you leave the best impression on your interviewer. That’s why he asked the magazine industry’s top career-makers to give him the inside scoop on the most-common interview questions they ask—and the standout answers they’re looking for.
1. What’s your dream job?
Although you may not know exactly what path you’d like your career to follow, don’t give a super-broad answer. “I’m looking for interview candidates to tell me exactly what they would want to be doing if they could get their dream entry-level job, ,” says Amy Helmus of Hearst Magazines Human Resources Department. If you’re meeting with an HR rep for an informational and not for a specific position, be sure to emphasize that your dream publication is one of the company’s titles. “A common newbie error is not being familiar with the magazines we own,” Helmus explains.
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Make sure to emphasize an eventual career goal that follows the trajectory of the position you are interviewing for. “If I’m interviewing someone for a fashion assistant position, I don’t want them to tell me that what they’d really love to interview celebrities one day,” says Joanna Saltz, executive editor at Food Network Magazine. “I get that the job market is tough and that most people will interview for whatever is open, but find at least one redeeming quality about the position you’re interviewing for,” she adds.
3. What makes you the perfect fit for this position?
Once you’ve made it through the basic intro questions (phew!), the interview will get more specific, and the interviewer will ask why you are a good fit for the position. “It’s important to answer from the editor’s perspective,” explains Rachel Chang, senior editor at Us Weekly. “Often, candidates make the mistake of explaining why their current job isn’t right for them or why they need a job, period. An editor isn’t in the position of being a Good Samaritan and rescuing you from your plight, so tell them what you can do for them!”
4. Why do you think our publication does well, and what would you change?
“Draw your examples from a number of issues (not just the most recent) to show what articles you thought perfectly served the mission of the magazine,” says Judy Coyne, executive editor at More. Ed knows these questions can be tough—after all, you don’t want to insult anyone. But don’t underestimate the importance of having an opinion. “Criticizing a magazine diplomatically and convincingly shows intelligence and confidence. In fact, this is the answer that often makes me remember a candidate later in the hiring process,” Coyne adds.
5. What do you think is the main difference between our publication and our competitors?
Before you head into the interview, it’s also important to familiarize yourself with the publication’s competitors since compare and contrast-style questions almost always make their way into the chat. “When I was at CosmoGIRL! I used to ask interviewees the difference between Seventeen and CosmoGIRL! or Teen Vogue and CosmoGIRL!,” says Chandra Turner, former executive editor at CosmoGIRL! and current executive editor at Parents. “I advise reading the magazine’s biggest competitor and noting differences in mission, tone, style, and feel. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask you specifically about the difference, it’s a nice thing to pepper into your interview.”
And finally, some editors might throw in a wild card question just to get to know you better. More than one Edster has been asked what magazines they’re currently reading, so be prepared. “I like to hear what websites and digital editions a candidate is reading. It may seem basic, but it tells me what you’re interested in and where your passions are,” says Wendy Naugle, executive editor at Glamour.