Internships Feedback 2018

Posted 17.05.18 by Cassie Leung

Firstly, thank you so much for applying to our Summer Internships. We really appreciate the time and effort everyone put into their answers and we were so impressed.

We’re not able to offer personalised feedback further to what is included in the Applied link as we had over 1600 applications, but we’d like to share some helpful feedback about what we were looking for and what answers caught our eyes.

For all questions, the STAR method is great for structuring your answer – Situation (give context and set the scene), Target (what was the aim), Action (what you did and how you did it), Result (what happened).


Q1. Tell us about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why were they difficult to work with? How did you manage to improve the relationship?

This question was about communication and collaboration.

The best answers all went into detail about the following things: 1) an ability to work with someone they don’t get along with, 2) seeing the other person’s point of view, 3) how they influenced someone to see their point of view, and 4) an improved work relationship as a result.

When talking about someone difficult to get along with, good answers talked about a personality or working style clash (so someone they thought abrasive/long-winded/disorganised, etc).

It was also important to differentiate between a person who was difficult to get along with and a difficult working situation. We had a number of answers about group projects where one member was flaky or struggled with the workload and the end result was to redistribute the work to the other members – in many of these examples, the flaky person wasn’t actually difficult to get along with, even though they were causing a problem for the project.


Q2. Give us an example of a time where you faced obstacles while trying to learn a new skill. How did you overcome the challenges?

We’re looking for people who are curious and resilient. This meant looking for examples of when you were actively trying to learn a skill, and came across obstacles whilst doing it – which is not quite the same thing as facing a challenge in life and finding that you’ve obtained new skills at the end of it. This is because we wanted you to show that you enjoy learning new things and constantly seek to improve on your skills.

The best answers 1) told us clearly what skill they were trying to learn, 2) outlined the difficulties faced, 3) showed multiple approaches, and 4) demonstrated successfully learning the skill.

For example: “My sports club wanted to attract new members, so I suggested creating a website so people could find us online. It was difficult as I had no experience of this, but I broke it down into several areas to tackle – hosting, design and content. Content was the easiest, as I could ask the club members what information they would have found useful when deciding whether to join, like club history, class times and fees.

For hosting, I did a lot of googling and decided on a WordPress based site. It was my first time using a CMS so that led to joining some forums, using the help function and a lot of experimentation to see how it worked.

For design, I looked at other clubs’ websites to see how to appeal to people. I had no idea how to use Photoshop (and it’s expensive) so I checked out a free graphics program called canva and used pictures I took of practices. It’s pretty intuitive, but I taught myself to use it using YouTube tutorials and trial and error.

It took longer than I anticipated, but the website is now up and running after four months. Next on my list is a CSS and HTML course so I can customise the site even more, and learning about SEO so we can come up higher in searches for sports groups in my local area.”


Q3. Tell us about a time when you anticipated a problem or need before being asked. How did you address the problem/need? What difference did it make?

We were looking people who are proactive, who can head off a problem before it becomes one.

We had a lot of answers where a problem was discovered and then reacted to. While often this demonstrated good problem-solving skills, that wasn’t quite what we were looking for.

Compare this example:

“I volunteered to do some marketing and PR for this charity. I noticed they weren’t utilising their social media channels effectively – posts were infrequent, the writing was convoluted and pictures were low quality.

I took a look at what similar organisations did on Twitter and Facebook, took some photos of the site to show our volunteers in action and came up with a social media plan that involved regular posts and invites to our events. I presented my plan to my manager, along with some research on why it’s important to use social media and how to effectively build an audience. They approved the plan, and after six months, our followers have grown from around 50 to over 1000.”

With this example:

“When working retail, I noticed that there wasn’t much awareness from customers about what one of our products was or what it did even though it was really useful. It had good reviews from people who had bought one and I reckoned a lot of people would want one. Of course, I explained to individual customers what it was when they were looking at it, but I also suggested to my manager that we put a working demo in the window with a poster explaining.

I also put a review placard next to it that people could see if browsing, and asked our social media manager to feature it on our channels. Sales for this rose 127% from the week after, and I’ve now started a monthly ‘Featured Item’ section with the social media manager.”

In the first example, they came up with some good ideas as to increase engagement – however, it was part of the role to do that. In the second, they saw an opportunity beyond what was expectedof them and made it happen, with tangible results at the end.


Q4. ‘What opportunities could we miss by not understanding the impact that digital technology and the internet have on our business?’

We were looking for you to demonstrate that you keep up to date with emerging technologies and internet trends. It was also a good opportunity to show off some commercial awareness (which just means understanding how these things affect businesses financially).

Social media is really important, but there are lots of other things that are involved too. A good answer would mention one or two opportunities we would miss, and a really great answer mentioned multiple opportunities in detail and even came up with new ideas we’re not taking advantage of, which included:

  • Accessibility – both reaching readers in areas where books are difficult to source and the ability to experiment with formats, fonts, audiobooks and so on that reach people who can’t or don’t read traditional books
  • Business use – constantly developing technology makes it easier for us to work, whether that’s video conferencing, streamlining the publication process, tracking orders or analysing data
  • Consumer Insights – being able to get and analyse information on current readers and what they’re interested in, which informs the next point:
  • Consumer loyalty – the means to reach out again with things like newsletters, sequels or similar books to one they liked previously
  • Engagement – the ability for us and authors to correspond directly with the readers and the book community
  • Events – being able to get live events to a larger audience through videos or streaming
  • Marketing – being able to target online adverts towards specific demographics
  • Previews – allowing people to sample the first few chapters of a book before buying
  • Reputation – as a forward-thinking brand
  • Sales – of course, if we’re not considering any of these other points, we’ll miss out on sales opportunities
  • Social media – which allows us to get the word out about books and lets us keep up with the next point:
  • Trends – which inform what books we commission/buy to come out in the next year or two
  • Tie-ins – with other technologies or products such as apps, games, websites, VR/AR
  • Visibility – people want to be able to find information on books or recommendations online


We hope this is useful feedback. If you haven’t been successful this time, we also have work experience applications currently open here, and you can find our entry-level roles here.

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