Interview Questions / Answers

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MRSBRF in Saint Paul, Minnesota

92 months ago

After 11 years of supporting one executive at one company, I'm now searching for a new position. I have a list of questions to ask a potential employer, but no advice on how to answer some of the difficult questsions asked of me. Does anyone have advice on how to answer and what those questions may be? My first goal is to be myself and give honest, straight-forward responses, but sometimes you're thrown a "doozie".

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Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

91 months ago

If you look on the other question about interview preparation on the forum there are a lot of good answers there. One of the answers addresses strengths and weaknesses. But you need to have your own answers, but here is an example:

1. Lynn from Ottawa wrote:
You must be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses.

For weaknesses, do not say something like "I don't like filing or answering the phone", when applying for a secretary job. Say something like, "I am a perfectionist". To elaborate, say that you don't like mistakes getting by you and don't rely on spell-check, but take the time to proof things thoroughly before they go out. This could be considered a weakness to you because you are hard on yourself and have high expectations, but I would consider this an asset to any company you would work for.

Strengths on the other hand are easy. Your strengths are your skills. Examples, I have advanced computer skills (and be prepared to list ie Word, Excel, etc.), I get along with people, I am a quick learner, I am a team player, etc. Capitalize on your greatest strength(s) ie, organizational skills and be prepared to give examples of something you've organized.

2. Some of the last paragraph of the last answer could be used here as well. Five words to describe yourself could be: team player, organized, sense of humour, punctual, quick learner, if these words describe you then you can use them and then you can give an example of something you've organized, or you can say you have maintained a good attendance record, if you worked together on a project with someone you can use that as an example of team work etc., but you have to use your own work experiences and successes. These are only examples.

3. I work in a busy law firm and work under pressure most of the time. I handle working under pressure by being super organized, I prioritize what I need to accomplish and as I do it I cross it off my list, I maintain a to-do list for projects.

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Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

91 months ago

Continued...
How do you handle working under pressure? If you are an assistant I am sure you have had to handle stressful situations, how have you handled it? Do you remain calm? Are you organized? Think about those things and come up with your own answers to this question and your own examples.

4. Teamwork: In the Department I work for the assistants work together as a team. We know what needs to get done and we help each other to accomplish that. I organized a seminar and the others just chipped in and helped me with numerous tasks and also I help them to meet their deadlines. We have a common goal and we work together to meet the challenge. How about you? Do you work as a team? Do you work well with others? You have to answer these questions for yourself.

5. Initiative: Do you show initiative in your job? Do you go the extra mile or do you just do the task that you are given? I show initiative in my job by looking for ways I can make my professional's job easier. I draft letters for him, when correspondence comes in I get the file that he will need, mark any dates on his calendar, things like that. When I see something that needs to be done I take the initiative to get that done.

6. Five years time? Where do you see yourself in five years time? What are your goals? In my position I am looking to get greater knowledge and skills so I can better assist my professional. I would like to be in my present position, but having greater responsibility. You have to personalize where you see yourself.

I would recommend going over the job posting and looking at the requirements for the job and if you have skills in those areas then you need to highlight that.

Here is a good article you can read on preparing for an interview: www.quintcareers.com/job_interview_preparation.html

Before you go into the interview, take a few deep breaths and if you are prepared you can go in with confidence. Give a firm handshake and have good eye contact.

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Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

91 months ago

I hope this was helpful to you. But just remember you need to use examples from your own experience, highlight your own strengths and skills.

All the best to you as you prepare for your interview.

Patricia :)

P.S. Another person suggested on the forum that you bring a copy of your resume with you and I agree. Just in case they don't have one.

Some people send thank-you notes to the person who interviewed them. I see that more and more and the response has always been positive.

And have a list of questions that you want to know about the company and the job? You need to interview them as well to see if you would want the job and would be happy there. Do you have the required skills and think you can do the job?

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marina sambakunsi in Blantyre, Malawi

88 months ago

I would like to have some tips for interview prapration for adminstrative secretary in a non governmental organisation.

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In Tune in Butler, Maryland

87 months ago

It is a hard battle to overcome for many people at many levels and some never fully understand, Life is one of continual growth and improvement and sometimes one has to expect to fail in order to acheive. This is not easy if you are stuck in this type of action reaction situation and do not know how to reverse it. So, in learning and being coached by exemplary leaders, it was taught to me very early, in order to accel it is sometimes ok to let go and reach beyond that which can limit your ability. It will enable you to find better opportunites and get the best for yourself and from others. To not always be the admin but reach to be the boss.

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Patricia in Toronto, Ontario

87 months ago

I think the definition of "perfectionist" is where we might be misunderstanding each other. My perfectionist tendencies can be seen as strengths.
I am able to ask others to help me and delegate work all the time. I expect good quality work though when I get it back (that is part of being a perfectionist to me), but it is not necessarily a bad thing.
I don't like seeing spelling mistakes in a document, and I find it hard to read something when I see it (again, my perfectionist ways), but that is a good thing when you are an admin who has to proofread many documents and give quality work. Even in your post you write "in order to accel", well I knew you meant "excel", but because I am a perfectionist I have a hard time not noticing and that is what drives me nuts sometimes. I even read fiction books and I can't help but notice spelling errors. Sometimes I wish I could just read the darn book and skim over the errors, but as a perfectionist I find that hard to do. But if I was interviewing for an admin job and they were looking for someone who would give them good work, my perfectionist tendencies to "proofread" everything would be a good thing. I think the key is if you are a perfectionist and say that in an interview, you need to explain what you mean and in my example I always say I am a perfectionist and I find that is my weakness, but when I explain how I am a perfectionist I see they understand that my perfectionist tendenices would actually be a bonus for the type of job I am applying for.
Perfectionist anal is another matter. Now, after all that said I hope I don't have any spelling mistakes in this post :)

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Christine in Georgetown, Ontario

68 months ago

MRSBRF in Saint Paul, Minnesota said: After 11 years of supporting one executive at one company, I'm now searching for a new position. I have a list of questions to ask a potential employer, but no advice on how to answer some of the difficult questsions asked of me. Does anyone have advice on how to answer and what those questions may be? My first goal is to be myself and give honest, straight-forward responses, but sometimes you're thrown a "doozie".

Try www.quintcareers.com/ for interview questions and answers.

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dobsfamily in Bridgewater, New Jersey

44 months ago

Can anyone give me an example of how an Administrative Assistant is supposed to answer this question: "Describe your experience working as a team player where you had to utilize your partnering skills in an effective way."? This is a question on an Onlinee Application for an admin job. But I have to tell you in am years working as an admin I've never actually worked ON a Team; I've only worked FOR a team - so how do they expect me to really truthfully answer this??

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gchardin in South San Francisco, California

43 months ago

dobsfamily in Bridgewater, New Jersey said: Can anyone give me an example of how an Administrative Assistant is supposed to answer this question: "Describe your experience working as a team player where you had to utilize your partnering skills in an effective way."? This is a question on an Onlinee Application for an admin job. But I have to tell you in am years working as an admin I've never actually worked ON a Team; I've only worked FOR a team - so how do they expect me to really truthfully answer this??

But you are working behind the scenes, right? I think then, that you are working for the team and actually that is being part of a team. You are on a team whether you realize it or not. Don't put yourself down and say "I'm only a secretary." Your job is important to the organization that hired you or they wouldn't have.

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E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

43 months ago

Thank you gchardin in South -
you really do bring up a great point - OK I hate these questions because they can make or break you and they use them to weed out - and I just know if I don't answer this question right it won't matter how great my resume is or how great my experience and long list of top corporations I've work for is because if I don't answer this right I'm disqualified I'm so sure.
So thank you for making this point - now I just have to be clever enough to formulate a good paragraph to touch on all aspects of their question.
Thank you - and any little pointers how to really wow them / writing a great answer I'd greatly appreciate it. :)

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E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

43 months ago

P.S. to: gchardin in South -
I'm not sure why my name came up different from dobsfamily in Bridgewater to E Dobs in Bridgewater - but I'm the same person asking the Team Player question.
Thanks, dobsfamily (aka E Dobs)

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E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

43 months ago

Thank you gchardin in South -
you really do bring up a great point - OK I hate these questions because they can make or break you and they use them to weed out - and I just know if I don't answer this question right it won't matter how great my resume is or how great my experience and long list of top corporations I've work for is because if I don't answer this right I'm disqualified I'm so sure.
So thank you for making this point - now I just have to be clever enough to formulate a good paragraph to touch on all aspects of their question.
Thank you - and any little pointers how to really wow them / writing a great answer I'd greatly appreciate it. :)

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gchardin in South San Francisco, California

43 months ago

dobsfamily in Bridgewater, New Jersey said: Can anyone give me an example of how an Administrative Assistant is supposed to answer this question: "Describe your experience working as a team player where you had to utilize your partnering skills in an effective way."? This is a question on an Onlinee Application for an admin job. But I have to tell you in am years working as an admin I've never actually worked ON a Team; I've only worked FOR a team - so how do they expect me to really truthfully answer this??

You could start by saying that although you haven't worked on a committee in a formal sense, you did contribute to the efficiency of the company and improved their bottom line, and then give examples of how you did that. For example, "Although I haven't worked on a team per se, I did contribute and work extra hours during the downsizing when our company merged with..." The idea here is to sell yourself. Try to explain to THEM why they should hire you--how would you benefit the company that you are applying for the job for? They are looking for confidence from you and the ability to think on your feet. I'm sure if you can show them that, then you will have the job.

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tsmith in Atlanta, Georgia

42 months ago

STAY POSITIVE, they will ask questions that will try and get you to say something negative...don't feed into it, be prepared to turn any possible negative answer into something positive....too much honesty isn't favored.

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hi in Okinawa, Japan

41 months ago

thx for help

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i live in Okinawa, Japan

41 months ago

very helpful. You could start by saying that although you haven't worked on a committee in a formal sense, you did contribute to the efficiency of the company and improved their bottom line, and then give examples of how you did that. For example, "Although I haven't worked on a team per se, I did contribute and work extra hours during the downsizing when our company merged with..." The idea here is to sell yourself. Try to explain to THEM why they should hire you--how would you benefit the company that you are applying for the job for? They are looking for confidence from you and the ability to think on your feet. I'm sure if you can show them that, then you will have the job. Stay confident.

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Anne O NyMous in Van Nuys, California

34 months ago

Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario said: Continued...

6. Five years time? Where do you see yourself in five years time? What are your goals? In my position I am looking to get greater knowledge and skills so I can better assist my professional. I would like to be in my present position, but having greater responsibility. You have to personalize where you see yourself.

Patricia, God bless you! I don't know if you are still on the board 5 years later but you just saved my life!

I never know how to answer that question or my other fave "Do you want to be a career admin or do you have other career goals"

The honest truth is that it's #2. Six years ago I hated my job in advertising/marketing so much that I quit and went to a temp agency and fell in to being an assistant because I happened to be organized. Four years ago, right as I started interviewing for non assistant jobs the banks tanked and the recession started and the job I was probably going to get was killed.

Now I have to look for a new job I'm on my 24th week of unemployment and I have NEVER, EVER. EVER been out of a job for longer than a month. I do get a lot of interviews but I can't figure out what they want me to say. I never trained for this job, I never wanted this job and now I am pigeonholed in it because I did it for over 5 years. Right now all I ask is for a job I can live on with a nice boss - duties, title not important but I know they don't want to hear "in 5 years I want to be in digital marketing but I am about to sign up for paralegal school just in case" I was an assistant at a tech company for those 5 years and have a degree in Political Science.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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Anne O NyMous in Somewhere in, California

34 months ago

Ceres in Modesto, California said: people on this blog are requesting advice on how to interview not on how to spell - I am also very particular with spelling but that is not the issue on this post!!!! say something nice or useful or nothing at all!!!

Thank you, the person who's spelling was being questioned was from Malawi not the US or the UK. Her English was more British than American and spelled as such.

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Chrisk in Beverly Hills, California

19 months ago

Below is a link to an article with the 3 most common interview questions and the best answers. Good lunch and crush your interviews.
www.jobunlocker.com/blog/the-3-most-common-interview-questions-and-the-best-way-to-answer-them/

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