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Job Interview Tricks and Tips

I’ve been doing a lot of job interviewing lately. Obviously I’ve been talking to potential new agents, but along with new agents comes the need for additional support staff so I’ve also hired a contracts coordinator and have been interviewing for a new right-hand woman, someone to do a lot of excel work, organization, and bookkeeping. Really someone to take charge of me.

With each interview and with each person I talk to I learn more about what I’m really looking for in a BookEnds team member and some of that is decided in the actual interview process and some of it is determined in how the interviewee responds after the process. Either way, there are things I want to see when interviewing new hires.

Added Value: I want to know what you’re going to add to the team. BookEnds is truly a team atmosphere. We share ideas, brainstorm, and work together on everything from creating the perfect pitch, to website changes and overhauls, to planning out submission lists. What will you add to BookEnds that we might not already have. Are you bringing in a genre we seem light on (nonfiction anyone)? Do you have ideas for how BookEnds can further grow our clients and our own name? Maybe a social media platform you love, but we’re not that active in, or you come from editorial and have seen things other agents do that might be really effective? When I ask, “what can you bring to BookEnds?” I want an innovative, creative answer that excites me.

Good Manners: I’m a sucker for a thank you note. In my world, you can never be thanked enough and in today’s fast-paced world I prefer to see the thank you sooner rather than later. If I don’t get a thank you note within 24 hours of our meeting your value to BookEnds is starting to decline. I wonder why you wouldn’t thank me and if you’ll do the same when it comes to working with editors, clients, or the rest of the team.

Why BookEnds: Of all the agencies in all the world, why would you chose BookEnds? Is it because of what you can bring to us? Is it because you met a team member and fell in love? Is it because of the books we represent? Show me that you’ve done your homework and why you think we’d be a good fit.

I can’t imagine I’m alone in looking for these things during job interviews so if you’re out there looking for a job do your homework and figure out what you can bring to your dream job.

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8 comments

  1. I always look forward to reading this blog — your publishing insight is like a peek behind the curtain. Every BookEnds team member I’ve met has been professional and polite. I adore Excel. In short, I would be your right-hand woman for free. But unfortunately, I live in Dallas. 🙁

  2. I’m curious, Jessica. If an applicant thanks you for your time and consideration at the end of the interview, does that replace the need for a note? Personally, when I’ve interviewed, the thank you at the end of the interview is weighted more heavily than whether they follow up ‘out of interview’ with a thank you (unless, of course, they didn’t offer one at the end of the interview).

    1. Nope. I want the note. Just as I send thank you notes to people for gifts, even if I thank them in person, I expect one after a job interview. Ideally, the note would highlight key points the applicant was excited about.

    2. Let me add, I think you fail if you don’t send a note. No interviewer is going to feel she’s been thanked too many times, she might however feel slighted if there’s no post-interview follow-up. You want to stand out and if the other 4 applicants send a follow-up you’re quickly forgotten.

      1. Thanks, Jessica. I guess it must be a cultural difference, because we don’t do that here. I remember when I first started looking for a job after graduation (many moons ago) I used to send handwritten thank you notes to my interviewers until I got feedback suggesting I don’t do it ( it wasn’t viewed as a positive, rather as an oddity). I guess I just accepted that for interviews it wasn’t protocol. And in the many, many applicants I assessed over the years, I never once got a thank you other than the end-of-interview one.

  3. I’m curious, Jessica–if an agent comes to you, either from going it alone, or from another agency, looking to join BookEnds, how much weight would you give to their current client list when making a hiring decision?

    1. There are so many things I consider and while a current client list might be part of it, it really comes down to the agent herself and whether she’d be a good fit and is what I’m looking for.

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