Editorial assistant interview questions and sample answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Editorial assistants perform clerical and editorial tasks, including scheduling meetings with agents and writers, researching publication facts and overseeing the review process. If you apply for a job as an editorial assistant, a hiring manager may contact you for an interview. Reviewing questions you can expect during an editorial assistant interview can help you prepare strategic responses. In this article, we list common editorial assistant interview questions and offer sample answers to help you formulate your own.

General editorial assistant interview questions

These editorial assistant interview questions help interviewers understand your personality, characteristics and strengths. How you answer these questions can help an employer determine if your personality fits their company culture. Here are some questions to expect:

  1. What's your greatest strength as an editorial assistant?

  2. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

  3. What two adjectives best describe you as an editorial assistant?

  4. Why do you want to work here?

  5. How did you learn of this position?

  6. What makes you a good candidate?

  7. What do you like about working as an editorial assistant?

  8. What are your expectations for this role?

  9. What are your career goals for the next five years?

  10. How might your previous employer and colleagues describe you?

  11. What types of newspapers, books or magazines do you like reading?

  12. Why are you leaving your current job?

  13. What are your interests and hobbies?

  14. What motivates you?

  15. What made you decide to become an editorial assistant?

  16. Do you prefer working in a team or independently?

  17. Do you consider yourself successful?

Related: 31 common interview questions and answers

Questions about experience and background

Interviewers want to know that you have the expertise and skills to succeed in an editorial assistant role, so they may ask questions about your experience and background. When answering these questions, highlight any previous experience that demonstrates your ability to perform the job effectively. Some questions about experience and background to expect include:

  1. How have you improved your knowledge as an assistant editor in the last year?

  2. Do you have experience writing reader's reports?

  3. Explain the role of an editorial assistant.

  4. How has your experience prepared you for this role?

  5. How would you describe your editing experience?

  6. How do you manage multiple tasks simultaneously?

  7. How do you proofread lengthy or complex manuscripts?

  8. Do you have any SEO knowledge?

  9. How would you describe your writing skills?

  10. What experience did you gain from your last job as an editorial assistant?

  11. Which university classes prepared you for this role?

  12. What do you think are the essential skills for an editorial assistant?

  13. Is there a project you've worked on that you're proud of?

  14. Give me an example of a time you showed leadership skills.

  15. How do you manage stress?

  16. Can you tell me about a time you overcame a difficult working situation?

Related: Work experience: definition, importance and tips

In-depth interview questions

Interviewers often ask role-specific questions to determine whether you're the right candidate. They may also ask behavioural or situational questions to see how you might react to different scenarios. Here are some in-depth questions a hiring manager may ask an editorial assistant candidate:

  1. What's your approach to editing an article?

  2. How do you approach editing a lengthy article with a short deadline?

  3. How do you make the work of an editor easier?

  4. Tell me about a mistake you made as an editorial assistant and how you rectified it.

  5. Explain your fact-checking process.

  6. How do you give constructive feedback to writers?

  7. How do you work with writers who struggle to take on feedback?

  8. What would you do if your editor asked you to do something you didn't agree with?

  9. How do you prioritise assignments?

  10. Have you ever encountered an assignment that was too difficult for you, and how did you handle it?

  11. How do you approach giving a writer difficult feedback?

  12. Tell me about a time you demonstrated teamwork as an editorial assistant.

  13. How do you deal with negative criticism?

  14. How do you deal with a team member who's not doing their share of the work?

  15. How do you stay motivated when handling editing tasks such as proofreading or source checking?

  16. How do you stay up to date with emerging trends in editing?

  17. Describe your work style.

Related: 38 challenging interview questions (with sample answers)

Interview questions with sample answers

Here are a few interview questions that a hiring manager may ask you, along with sample answers to help you craft strategic responses:

1. What are the essential skills of an editorial assistant?

The hiring manager may ask this question to gauge whether you understand the skills necessary for the role and whether you possess them. It's essential that you answer this question honestly and confidently. Focus on listing skills and briefly explaining why each is important.

Example: 'The most important qualities for an editorial assistant are strong editing and writing skills. They also require organisational skills to keep track of multiple projects and meet deadlines. Attention to detail is also beneficial when proofreading to avoid missing mistakes. Editorial assistants also communicate daily with editors, authors and other staff members, requiring excellent communication skills to articulate their ideas. Another important skill is flexibility, as the needs of companies or publications often change.'

Related: Interview questions: how to answer 'What is your expected salary?'

2. How do you prioritise your work?

As an editorial assistant, you may handle multiple tasks with tight deadlines. A hiring manager may ask this question to assess your time management and organisation skills. Consider answering by explaining your process for approaching daily tasks.

Example: 'The first thing I do to stay efficient and organised is keep an up-to-date calendar of all my commitments and deadlines. This makes it easy to review my workload and deadlines for all my tasks when I start my day. Once I determine the tasks for the day, I work on them individually, prioritising those with earlier deadlines. Finally, I set aside time to review my day's work and monitor my progress towards my goals.'

Related: Interview question: 'how do you prioritise your work?'

3. What is the role of an editorial assistant in the publishing industry?

The hiring manager may ask this question to gauge your knowledge and experience in the publishing industry. Editorial assistants play an important role in producing and editing books and other publications. Thus, it's vital that you understand the role to answer this question effectively.

Example: 'Editorial assistants play an important role in the publishing industry. They're the first contact for writers and play a major role in ensuring manuscripts are ready for publication. They may also work alongside editors to ensure the publishing process runs smoothly.'

Related: Assistant editor job description (including skills)

4. How do you handle criticism?

The interviewer may ask this question to determine how you handle feedback and react under pressure. They may also want to gauge your level of professionalism and maturity. It's important that you demonstrate that you can handle criticism without getting defensive. Being able to handle criticism shows that you're willing to listen to others and learn from your mistakes.

Example: 'I'm open to receiving feedback and criticism from others, as I believe it helps me grow personally and professionally. I view criticism as constructive, as it allows me to improve my work. If I believe the intent of the criticism is not to be constructive, I focus on my work and don't allow it to upset me.'

Related: How to respond to and handle negative feedback at work

5. How would you describe your writing style?

As an editorial assistant, you may have writing tasks. You also require excellent writing skills to help edit other writers' work. So, a hiring manager may ask this question to gauge your writing abilities.

Example: 'I'd describe my writing style as easy to read, clear and concise. I always try to communicate my ideas in an engaging and relatable way. I also ensure that my writing is free of errors before publication. I like experimenting with different writing tones and styles, depending on my audience or the project.'

6. What did you learn from your previous editorial assistant role?

A hiring manager may ask this question to see if you're eager to learn and develop yourself in your career. They may also ask this question to learn about your past experiences. When answering this question, provide an example related to the role you're interviewing for.

Example: 'In my previous role as an editorial assistant, I gained valuable skills in writing, proofreading and managing projects and deadlines. I also gained an understanding of the publishing process, allowing me to assist editors when there's a significant workload. I also learnt how to work well with a team to complete assigned tasks.'

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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