It's a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback... editor
May 14, 2009 7:33 AM   Subscribe

EmploymentFilter: I will soon have a job interview to be a copy editor/proofreader for a scientific publishing company. What sort of questions can I expect my interviewer to ask?

My resume & cover letter are pretty good and usually impress people, but I tend to get nervous, clam up, and stutter in an actual interview. I always figure out the perfect answer to a question as soon as I've finished telling my prospective employer the wrong answer. Thus, I want to be as well-prepared as I possibly can be for these questions.

Background information: To get this interview, I had to correct an ambiguity- and error-ridden sample article sufficiently. I have a few months of experience editing scientific journals in 2007, in addition I have a bachelors in biology and half a masters in psychology with lots of lab experience, and did a lot of newspaper editing work in college. Other than that I've been a chef and and an office monkey.
posted by Jon_Evil to Work & Money (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I do pretty well in interviews (in fact, I haven't ever had one without being offered at least a second interview). I really think the key is to come off as genuine, intelligent, polite and friendly, rather than giving canned answers. If your honest answers aren't the "right" answers, then you're likely not a good match for that company, anyway--a tough thing to hear in these trying economic times, I know. You sound qualified for this position, so you're more than halfway there. Try practicing interviews with a friend. It's pretty easy to find common interview questions online. The more familiar you are with the format of the interview, the better you'll do.

And don't be afraid to ask for a moment to reflect on your answer, if you need it. Interviews are nerve wracking, for both the interviewer and the interviewee. They'll understand if you need to pause and think something over before answering.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2009

Other than that I've been a chef and and an office monkey.

Oh, and do try to emphasize that even these work experiences are relevant. Professional chefs know how to deal with pressure and prioritize; being an office monkey necessitates computer skills, attention to detail, and the like.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2009

Best answer: Find a copy of Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed by H. Anthony Medley. I mean, really, get it. Now. It is one book I will never, ever, part with.

The key is control and enthusiasm. This book helped me tremendously, and I have heard through third parties that I interview very well.

Congratulations and good luck! People forget that getting an interview is an achievement in itself, so you have that to further bolster your confidence.
posted by jgirl at 7:55 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: From what I remember a lot of the questions were making sure that I would be a self-starter, yet easy to manage. Then some general conversation to get a sense of your personality/if you'd fit into the office culture o.k. (usually it's not that you fit perfectly as much as you won't clash horribly). And there were the ones designed to make you show your weaknesses 'what is the most difficult part of the job for you?'.

They also may ask about the workflow/applications you used in your previous editing job to see if you're already familiar with the way they do things.

ps. I strongly, strongly recommend writing a thank you for the interview, post-interview to each person you speak with.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:22 AM on May 14, 2009

In addition to writing a thank-you note, after the interview go immediately to a coffee shop or a park bench or something and jot down the following:

- What went well, especially words and phrases you used (this will be handy for your thank-you note, as well as future interviews or letters);

- What could've been better. This is not a time for self-flagellation, just some brief objective bullet points.

You might think you'll remember later, but you won't have as good a grasp of it as when you stop right after the interview to reflect on things.
posted by jgirl at 9:05 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a writer and editor and have had to hire other writers and editors. Some of the questions I've asked to interviewees in the past:

-Tell me about your approach to editing. (Basically, I want to know the steps the editor is going to take to perfect a document, from the initial copyediting or comprehension pass to verifying edits with the author to a final proof. I'm also looking for the editor's personal philosophy of editing because it indicates what they're most focused on when editing a document.)
-Tell me about a time when you had to defend your edits and how you convinced the author your changes were appropriate. (I've worked in high-tech and in government. It can be difficult to justify edits to engineers and subject matter experts who think they know everything. Even if you won't have direct contact with an author, you might need to defend your changes to a managing editor.)

I'd also want to know why a science major was first attracted to publishing. I'd want to hear some indication that you understand the differences between editing for a newspaper and editing for an academic/scientific publication. You'll need to provide an example or evidence that you've worked with or adapted to a house style. You should also be able to describe the steps you'd take to verify facts you're unsure about.

Good luck!
posted by lunalaguna at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

My ex was a journalist/editor. When she applied for jobs, there were interviews AND editing tests. Be prepared to work and answer questions.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:52 AM on May 14, 2009

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