Next Editors Programme – application feedback

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application for our newly launched Next Editors Programme.

If you weren’t invited to move ahead to the next stage of the process, please don’t be too disheartened. We were blown away to have received close to 600 applications for the programme and were blown away by the amount of creativity, skill and effort that we saw in the answers to the questions. With only 4 traineeship places available, there were many answers that impressed us and showed real potential to be an editor of the future, but of course we couldn’t move ahead with all of them.


This feedback will tell you a bit more about what we were looking for in the answers, and what made a good answer great for each of the questions asked, as well as some general tips for the applications as a whole.


As a reminder, all applications were marked using the platform BeApplied, which meant that your answers were scored anonymously, and focused on the qualities we had shared on the website, which are designed to showcase your potential to be a Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House.

Overall feedback

  • The questions always centred around of the qualities that we were looking for which were explained on the website, so it was most effective to focus on that quality and how we had explained it, when tailoring your responses to the questions. In particular, it was useful to focus on the single quality within each answer, rather than trying to cover all of them in the short space available.


  • Try to focus on just one example and use the 250 word limit to fully explain the situation and outcomes. Multiple examples or shorter responses often gave less opportunity to go in to as much depth and context that might’ve secured the highest marks.


  • Read the question fully. The questions laid out the elements that we were looking to see in your answer so are a helpful guide for how to structure your response to make sure you’ve covered all of the elements. We marked many answers that had fantastic ideas, but had missed out an element of the question, so we couldn’t award top scores.


  • Use examples rather than speaking in more general terms or hypotheticals. We saw some very thoughtful answers that focused on the skills needed, but many hadn’t actually included a specific example, which is what the questions were asking for.


  • We sometimes saw great examples but the answers themselves may have been better positioned to respond to another question. E.g. when answering the question about how you won someone over, we saw great examples of coming up with great initiatives and projects, and bringing along stakeholders. In some cases, this could’ve been a better answer for the question about being an Entrepreneur.



“Tell us about a great idea that you had. What did you do to turn it in to a reality?

We’ll be looking to see your entrepreneurial potential, so tell us about what sparked the idea, how you overcame challenges to make it happen, and what you learnt.”

For this question, we were looking to see the quality of an entrepreneur: how you take initiative to turn an idea in to a reality, not just the ability to react to a situation.  We were looking to see that you overcame obstacles, and how you did that, for example adapting your approach.

It is also important to be able to learn and grow from challenges, so we were looking for you to be able to share what you learnt and see how you might have applied that learning since.

We saw some really fantastic answers to this question – from setting up projects or companies, to streamlining process at work but the strongest answers covered off all aspects of the questions and also made the most of the opportunities.


“We’re looking to see your potential to acquire – that you’re curious about stories and ideas, why they capture attention, and who they appeal to.

If you could publish a book on any topic right now, what topic would it be? Share why you’re interested in it, who the audience is, and why you think this book would make an impact.

Your answer can suggest a topic idea for any book genre or age group.”

This question brought some incredibly varied, creative and insightful answers! This question wasn’t just about having a creative idea, but also showing how you engaged with different forms of media and storytelling, how you used insights such as data and trends to inform your choice, and why the idea could an impact.

The strongest answers to this question were not just brilliant ideas, but were thoughtful about how the book would be a success and used commercial aptitude to consider the audience and gave compelling reasons as to why their book would be a success. These included suggestions of comparable popular themes in TV or film, stats on the audience and what they’re interested in, or commercial gaps in the market.

Overall, we were thoroughly impressed by the care and creativity we saw within these answers.


“Share with us a time that you were able to successfully win someone over someone at work.

Tell us why they were initially resistant to you / your idea and how you used your communication skills to build the relationship to get to a good outcome?”

This question saw a broad range of marks awarded, as often there were some good demonstrations of winning an argument, but not necessarily explaining how they used their communication and influencing skills to win someone over.

Lower scoring answers often involved examples of winning someone over by simply conveying to them why their idea was wrong.

Higher scoring answers demonstrated high levels of emotional intelligence by taking the time to understand the other person’s perspective and adapting their style or arguments to best appeal to them. They worked to build a relationship and trust to win them over to reach a successful outcome.

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