Posted 19.05.17 by prhcareers
Firstly, thank you so much for applying to our Summer Internships.
We found a huge amount of enthusiasm and really enjoyed reading all of your responses.
We know it can be discouraging if you haven’t moved forward, but this post aims to give you some useful feedback about what we were looking for, and what made answers really stand out.
All eight internships had different questions, so we hope this covers everything.
We want to know why, specifically, this internship appealed to you over any of the others. If it was a marketing internship in Transworld, we wanted to know – why marketing, why Transworld, and why Penguin Random House. We particularly enjoyed answers from people who had read the job description and pointed out the bits that excited them, or people who had done a bit of research on what the department does and what books we’re publishing.
We are Penguin Random House. A little attention to detail goes a long way, and addressing us as Penguin, Penguin/Random House, Penguin Group or Random Penguin House unfortunately didn’t demonstrate that.
Going into detail is key. We had a few ‘tell us about your experience with…’ questions, and the best answers were very specific.
For a question about social media, it’s important to know whether you’re more familiar with Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram, and if you understand the differences in post format, audiences and reach. For a question about research, it’s useful to know what sort of research you’ve done – was it qualitative or quantitative? Were your methods surveys, questionnaires, or interviews? Did you use analysis software and tools? If so, which ones, and what were your results?
You could look into the STAR method of answering – Situation: give the context and set the scene; Target: what was the aim, where, who; Action: what you did, what skills you utilised; Result: what happened.
Relevance to the question
We’re looking for people who answer the question we ask. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to miss it.
If the question is about a digital campaign, an answer about a TV advert isn’t quite right, because we’re looking for your digital awareness. If the question asks about how you got other people on board with an idea you had, a solo activity isn’t quite right because we’re looking for your teamwork and communication skills.
Personality and engagement
We’re looking for a bit of you. We wanted to see your personality and voice shine through. Particularly for communications roles, we’re looking for engaging pieces of creative writing.
When you’re asked to tell us why we should read a particular book, this was your chance to practice your pitch – and also demonstrate that you have a natural interest in the genre the internship was about. The best answers had a concise, compelling hook, and tailored the answer to someone who might not be familiar with that book.
Show, don’t tell
A basic, but a good ‘un. If your answer said that you are creative or good at research, it’s difficult for us to judge what that means; use the space instead to show us a time where you demonstrated these qualities.
There were a few questions about the effectiveness of campaigns. Our best answers focused not only on the personal effect, but the wider effect. They mentioned entire campaigns, as opposed to a single advertisement or poster, and were aware of the reach and target of the campaign as well as the emotional impact it had on themselves.
Tailor your answers
Since all eight internships had different questions, we noticed when you used an answer meant for a different question.
Everyone loves books!
While it’s great that you’re as enthusiastic about books as we are, so are most of our applicants. We’re looking for people with skills that match the team and role they applied for, and we’re also looking for other qualities in addition to a passion for books, so use your words on something that will make you stand out.
We hope that all of this is useful. In addition to our summer internships, there are other opportunities you may be interested in. We offer paid work experience all year round, and you can find our entry-level roles here.