Interview Questions / Answers

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (42)

MRSBRF in Saint Paul, Minnesota

84 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".

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (761) / No (81) Reply - Report abuse

Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

84 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (180) / No (24) Reply - Report abuse

Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

84 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (120) / No (12) Reply - Report abuse

Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

84 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?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (63) / No (9) Reply - Report abuse

marina sambakunsi in Blantyre, Malawi

80 months ago

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

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (72) / No (19) Reply - Report abuse

Patricia in Ottawa, Ontario

80 months ago

I was being honest! I am a perfectionist and I think of it as a weakness because it sometimes drive me nuts, but I can see in a job it might be seen as an asset so why not say that.

I agree though, if you are not a perfectionist or any other "cookie cutter" answer, don't say it. Be honest with what your weakness is and turn it into a strength.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (17) / No (7) Reply - Report abuse

In Tune in Baltimore, Maryland

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I think you've missed the point. In many vocations, as a subordinate you have to do the job yourself and you cannot turn in the work until it is exactly right. The work has to be perfect and you bear sole responsibility to ensure it is. That's why perfectionism would be a strength. With a degree in accounting, several years in law, and having worked alone in newsrooms and being solely responsible for the content that went on the air, I know what I'm talking about.

Yes you have your point and it is valid for some situations. However, perfectionists are not perfect and fail to realize the mistakes that can result and impacts which can be made are from being too narrow minded in their thinking patterns.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (15) / No (9) Reply - Report abuse

In Tune in Butler, Maryland

80 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (14) / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Patricia in Toronto, Ontario

80 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 :)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (28) / No (6) Reply - Report abuse

Christine in Georgetown, Ontario

60 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (10) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

jessemgarcia6760@yahoo.com in San Antonio, Texas

57 months ago

Any living person can only do so mush and the more you do the more they expect from you anyway. It depends on who you know in the work area.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (9) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Red Robbin in Chicago, Illinois

57 months ago

The last interview I went on they asked me a weakness question with a little twist. In what area could you do better in your job? I think I kind of blew this one, and I said that I would tripple check something just to make sure it was right. Sometimes if I have been working on a project a while, I would take a coffee run break and come back with a more refreshed eye. Sometimes things that are not right will stick right out after a short time away from the screen.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (36) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

Red Robbin in Chicago, Illinois

57 months ago

The word "weakness" was not mentioned. I was asked in what area I could do better in my job? To give that job my full attention? If I didn't give my full attention then it would not be good either. Perhaps take more training cources on microsoft office products to learn more advanced features, is how I will answer that question if it should come up asked like that next time.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (13) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

Red Robbin in Chicago, Illinois

57 months ago

So in other words everyone knows that question, so they try to trick us by not using that word. Ok, thanks for the advise.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (9) / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Heidi in United Kingdom

54 months ago

Im going for a PA interview tomorrow and have been doing lots of reading up on interview questions and answers. I would just like to say a big thank you as i have found all your comments very helpful and has made me a little less nervous so.... thanks.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (23) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

Andria in Kingston, Jamaica

49 months ago

Very informative and thanks for your ideas

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (5) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

TAZLITE in Saratoga Springs, New York

46 months ago

marina sambakunsi in Blantyre, Malawi said: I would like to have some tips for interview prapration for adminstrative secretary in a non governmental organisation.

I suggest you work on your spelling skills.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (10) / No (15) Reply - Report abuse

sengle in Sacramento, California

46 months ago

I recently went on a interview with a well known company in out area. When asked about my computer skills I gave the answer I thought was close enough, I was informed by the interviewer that it was incorrect... So, today I asked a man who teaches word at the local library, and he came up with the same answer as I did.
mmmm. I dont believe they were looking for a right answer.
Good Luck with your search

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (11) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

Desperate to land a job in Bakersfield, California

45 months ago

When the interviewer "asks do you have any questions" what kind of questions should we ask?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (71) / No (11) Reply - Report abuse

susandot

45 months ago

Are you willing to commit?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No (7) Reply - Report abuse

I'll tell you what... in Dearborn, Michigan

44 months ago

First of all, if and interviewer asks what your weakness is, they are not a great interviewer. Alas, you should always be prepared for bad interviers.

If someone asked what your weakness is, they don't want you to tell them a strength. When someone tells me they "are a perfectionist", I tell them thats great but I asked for a weakness. Then, on my review sheet, I indicate that they don't lisen well, and can't follow directions.

I interview a lot of candidates. I hear the same thing over and over again. I know the tricks.

I want an honest answer, what you honest weakness is. Ok, thats a lie. I don't want to hear that you are an alcoholic, or a racist. But really, tell me what you have had trouble with, and that you recognize this issue, and have taken these steps to overcome your weakness. Then tell me what you do regularly to continue to follow up with overcoming your weakness.

That is how you should answer this question.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (27) / No (11) Reply - Report abuse

Mezosub in Tustin, California

44 months ago

What DLP said about the "weakness" question.

One of the chief aims of the Fourth Purpose/HR Culture is to exclude candidates who do not conform to "firm culture." This means that no matter how qualified a candidate may be, the first interviewer's job (the HR Person, not the professional who will actually be supported by the candidate) is to try to find ways to eliminate candidates who might cause the employer trouble by reporting corporate policy and regulatory violations.

I was once interviewed by an HR person who asked me the "weakness" question, whom I was absolutely sick of interviewing with. The man's background was in technical support, and he was working as a Firm Administrator and had not the first clue what a legal assistant actually does. So, I responded that my weakness was feeling impatient with my peers who do not work as quickly and efficiently as I do, and that I sometimes resented being interrupted in the middle of an important assignment to go train another legal assistant in one of the essential functions of the job.

When it was my turn to ask questions, I asked him why the position was vacant and what had happened to the person who used to hold the position. He told me that the incumbent had resigned less than a month before because she used to support a partner and an associate and was comfortable with that arrangement, but the firm added another partner to her desk who spent the majority of his work time out of the office on business development trips and needed a great deal of travel arrangement support. I asked why the firm did not have a travel agency to handle such matters and he got an attitude and replied, "What we need is someone who will cheerfully perform all duties of the job, including travel arrangements. If you don't think you'd enjoy that, I wouldn't advise you pursue it further."
(continued)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (8) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Mezosub in Tustin, California

44 months ago

(continued from above)

So I put on my most saccharine smile and shot right back, "I appreciate your candor, so let me give you a piece of advice even though you haven't asked for it: I suggest that you revise your advertisement to let experienced legal assistants know that this position is primarily as a travel and administrative coordinator, with no substantive legal skills required. That way, you can get an inexperienced recent graduate who hasn't invested tens of thousands of dollars into a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved program, not to mention the test fee for the Graduate Record Exam and tuition for graduate school, like I have. It's a nice little firm you have here, and I'd hate to see you have to endure an investigation by the department of labor standards enforcement for placing false employment advertisements."

He blanched, while I got up, collected my handbag, and strolled out the door without a glance back.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (33) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

amber in Sheridan, Oregon

39 months ago

All these posts are really helpful! Thanks to everyone!!!! I would like to get into the question: "Give me an example of when you have worked under pressure?" What are they really wanting to know about you? What kind of conflict would be a good example? I know everyone has to personalize this question, but I was hoping that there could be some key points in your answers.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

lisa in Nashville, Tennessee

39 months ago

i have a question for you......I had a phone interview today for a Human Resources Admin Assistant job......I was told that I would get an email tmw for a writing assignment.....do you have any idea what this is ???

Sincerely,
Lisa

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (11) / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Vassie Govender in Pretoria, South Africa

38 months ago

Pls keep me updated - tnx

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

dobsfamily in Bridgewater, New Jersey

37 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??

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (33) / No (8) Reply - Report abuse

tsmith in Atlanta, Georgia

36 months ago

@dobsfamily you dont have to restrict the answer to that question to something job-related. it can be academically related or leisure sports or event planning such as wedding.........let them know that you never worked on a team at work but in your personal life etc

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

tsmith in Atlanta, Georgia

36 months ago

dobsfamily you dont have to restrict the answer to that question to something job-related. it can be academically related or leisure sports or event planning such as wedding.........let them know that you never worked on a team at work but in your personal life etc

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Ceres in Modesto, California

36 months ago

TAZLITE in Saratoga Springs, New York said: I suggest you work on your spelling skills.

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!!!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (10) / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

gchardin in South San Francisco, California

36 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

gchardin in South San Francisco, California

36 months ago

lisa in Nashville, Tennessee said: i have a question for you......I had a phone interview today for a Human Resources Admin Assistant job......I was told that I would get an email tmw for a writing assignment.....do you have any idea what this is ???

Sincerely,
Lisa

Could you be more specific? Human Resources is dealing with people. Is that what you wanted to know? Or were you asking about what email is? I am confused with your vague "this."

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

36 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. :)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

36 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)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

E Dobs in Bridgewater, New Jersey

36 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. :)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

gchardin in South San Francisco, California

36 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

tsmith in Atlanta, Georgia

35 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

hi in Okinawa, Japan

34 months ago

thx for help

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

i live in Okinawa, Japan

34 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

Anne O NyMous in Van Nuys, California

26 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!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Anne O NyMous in Somewhere in, California

26 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.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Chrisk in Beverly Hills, California

12 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/

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.