Summer Internships 2021 – Application Feedback

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application for our internships this year.


We were astounded to receive over 4,500 applications, and whilst we only had 9 spaces available, were blown away by the amount of care and effort that had gone in to all of them.


This feedback will tell you a bit more about what it was that made a good answer great for each of the questions asked, and some general tips for the applications as a whole.

Overall tips

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

Try to focus on just one example and use the 250 word limit to fully explain the situation and outcomes. Multiple examples often gave less opportunity to go in to as much depth and context.

The question always listed the quality we were looking for, so it would have been most effective to focus only on that quality, rather than trying to cover everything in one answer.

We sometimes saw great examples but answers that actually would have better fitted in another question. E.g. when answering a question on communication, people spoke about adapting to lockdown and creating a plan for finishing a project virtually – this showed great problem solving skills so may have suited the initiative question better.

Don’t forget to read through the answers before submitting for things such as typos. One of the qualities we’re looking for is good attention to detail, so this was important.

Answers were marked anonymously by multiple assessors in a random distribution to remove bias. This meant that we didn’t have access to previous answers you’d submitted. This made it difficult to mark answers that referred back to a different answer you’d submitted.

Whether it’s getting other people excited about something, or helping someone to understand your point of view – building relationships is useful in any job. Tell us about a time when you’ve built a relationship, and used your communication skills to solve a problem. How did you build the relationship to reach a solution? What was the outcome? We’re looking for demonstration of communication skills in your example.


There were a brilliant range of examples given – from working on group projects at school, to reacting quickly when something went wrong. Any example was a good example to give, but it’s important to demonstrate how you managed to build a relationship using communication skills.


In many examples, we saw really important points being made about the principles of good communication, but they were often missing a tangible example to back that up. As the question specifies “Tell us about a time” it is important to show where you have applied those principles in real life.


High scoring answers were those which went beyond a ‘telling’ approach and focused on the element of “relationship building” which the question asked for, and directly showed how it solved a problem. They documented the approach that they took, and the communication skills they employed such as listening, engaging and reacting. Rather than simply providing evidence to the other person as to why they were right, good answers stepped back from the problem to consider all angles and the other person’s perspective, learnt and made adjustments to build trust with them.


They clearly demonstrated how that relationship building approach lead to a positive outcome.

Tell us about a time when you had an idea, and took the initiative to turn it into a reality. What steps did you take? What was the end result? We’re looking for demonstration of initiative in your example. This might be when you’ve made something happen, or been proactive and solved a problem before being asked.


Answers were really impressive for this question, with answers ranging from incredible fundraising activities to setting up networks.


The trick to this answer, was to really take the time to talk through the approach you took, from the initial idea and what sparked it, to detailing the actions and initiative you took, as well as being clear on the result.


Great answers were able to show that they were proactive with their idea, doing more than simply responding to a situation. They saw a need and took the initiative to do something about it.


They also outlined how they took the initiative to problem solve and overcame obstacles as they arose. They took charge, and went above and beyond to make things happen, showing tenacity and care.


It was important to address all of the elements of the question, so it was best when answers also shared the positive end result of all the hard work they’d put in to turning an idea in to a reality.

If you could start a conversation with a subject matter expert on something that you’re curious about, what would you want to discuss? Why does it interest you? What makes you want to find out more about it? This might be anything. For example – cultural moments, social media trends or current affairs. We’re looking for demonstration of curiosity in your example.


This is a truly enjoyable question for us to mark, as we learnt so much from all the answers and became just as interested in the topics as you were.


Great answers were able to demonstrate what it was that they’d be keen to discuss and even identified who the subject matter in this area could be, showing they’d had the curiosity to already begin looking in to the subject.


They were curious and showed a real engagement with the world around them, which is critical in any role in the publishing industry. Whatever role or department you’re in it’s important to keep asking questions, looking forward, and exploring many viewpoints.


We were most impressed with people who were able to explain why the topic was interesting and could connect it with other questions and ideas that left the marking team desperate to know more about it too.

We really appreciate the time taken to complete these answers – the care and passion clearly came through.


We cannot take everyone forward to the next stage, but do encourage you to take a look at our other opportunities on offer, and please do apply for our intern projects again next year if you’re still interested.

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