Executive Administrative Assistant Interview

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Amazed at the Economy in San Diego, California

58 months ago

Thank you thank you thank you! I have never met a more well-planned assistant!

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Amazed at the Economy in San Diego, California

58 months ago

I'm buying the book!

EssGee in Sacramento, California said: This is the second of two posts. OTHER
* Track standing with professional organizations re accreditation or membership (e.g. continuing education requirements, membership renewals, licensing requirements, expiration dates, etc.).
* Confidential assistance (e.g. mid- and annual review process, interview and hiring process)
* Help organize office

FOOTNOTE. There are 25 color categories in MS Office 2007; here’s how I use them:
* Red – Important (Calendar Category)
* Orange – Review Time (Calendar Category)
* Peach – Boss 1 Contacts (Contacts Category)
* Yellow – Phone Call (Calendar Category)
* Green – Personal (Calendar Category)
* Teal – Boss 2 Contacts (Contacts Category)
* Olive – Holiday (Calendar Category)
* Blue – Travel Time (Calendar Category)
* Purple – Birthday (Calendar Category)
* Maroon - @Someday/Maybe (Task Category)^
* Steel – Vacation (Calendar Category)
* Dark Steel - @Deferred (Task Category)^
* Gray - @Reference (Task Category)^
* Dark Gray – Not Used
* Black – Not Used
* Dark Red - @Action (Task Category)^
* Dark Orange - @Office (Task Category)^
* Dark Peach - @Waiting For (Task Category)^
* Dark Yellow - @Calls (Task Category)^
* Dark Green - @Home (Task Category)^
* Dark Teal - @Errands (Task Category)^
* Dark Olive - @Ideas (Task Category)^
* Dark Blue - @Anywhere (Task Category)^
* Dark Purple - @Agendas (Task Category)^
* Dark Maroon - @Computer (Task Category)^
* Dark Steel - @Deferred (Task Category)^

Bright colors are calendar items, coordinating darker colors are task categories (e.g., yellow=calendared calls/teleconferences; dark yellow=tasks that a phone is needed to complete).

^The “@” categories are based on “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. See my 11/3/09 post to this board entitled, “Need Help Getting Organized? This Book Just May Change Your Life.”

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EssGee in Sacramento, California

58 months ago

Kimuri in Troy, Michigan said: Sweet!! Thank you for the input, Su[san].

Have you ever come across a difficult situation as an admin and rectified it by implementing an idea of your own where that situation would not come up again as a problem?

Absolutely! I've analyzed issues related to interpersonal relationships, reporting, administrative support, communication, workflow and processes, etc., and developed and implemented successful solutions. But this is such a routine part of my job that I'm hard pressed to come up with a specific example. Let me know if you're interested in an approach to a specific issue or concern; I would be glad to share my approach with you.

In the meantime, here's how I responded to a similar question on a job application some years back:
Q: Ability to analyze and find and implement improvements to complex management processes and systems.
A: In my role as Executive Assistant at XYZ Company, I routinely and independently collected information from a variety of internal sources, analyzed and interpreted the information and drew conclusions and recommended improvements to Regional workflows, organizational structures and workload distributions.

I was offered the job, and assume my answer met the prospective employer's expectations. (I say "assume" because I didn't accept their offer.)

*** Disclaimer: While this is a fairly generic response that could easily be tailored to fit most situations, I can't stress enough the importance of *not* overstating experience or qualifications. Most employers ask behavioral-based questions during the interview; if not "found out" in that process, it won't take long for the new employer to uncover an exaggeration. And, really, who needs that kind of self-inflicted stress? ***

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posnerr@comcast.net in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

57 months ago

Carm in Toronto, Ontario said: Does anyone have any behavioural type questions for an executive assistant job interview...PLEASE HELP

I found some on google

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EA in Lake Oswego, Oregon

55 months ago

Patrick in Dearborn, Michigan said: I would use the acronym IMPACT

I - Information Expertise
M - Maturity
P - Political Skills
A - Adaptability
C - Communicator
T - Takes Initiative

Got that from the last book I read. The New Executive Assistant by Melba J. Duncan

I like the acronym. The book, however, was published in 1997. Is it still relevant for today? (Just curious - I realize this was an older post so you may not be on here still.)

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Cindy in Belleville, Illinois

51 months ago

Shirley in Washington, District of Columbia said: I have a question, not a comment. When the President & CEO would like to meet with an executive from another company, would it be better if he or she made the call personally, rather than have his executive assistant make the call? In my opinion, I think it would be more expedient for him or her to make the call because they know their calendar better than anyone else, and it would be more convenient to set up the meeting at the time of the phone call, rather than have the executive's secretary give the President's secretary some convenient times for them to meet and then for the President's secretary to check her boss's schedule for the most convenient time for the meeting. In my opinion, this would save time for all concerned and would be much more efficient because, in my case, I don't have complete access to my boss's calendar because he never synchronizes his Blackberry with his Outlook Calendar.

Any suggestions?

Two points come to mind: 1) Executives are very busy people; odds are they won't reach each other on a first call. It is more efficient for their administrative assistants to take care of such a task. 2) Assume the job of synchronizing his Blackberry--let your boss know that effectively managing his calendar requires you to frequently synchronize his Blackberry. Encourage him to choose whether he drops it at your desk at intervals or makes it readily accessible on his. When you keep him organized so he can tend to more important things, you increase his value and you are both appreciated!

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Small Town near Big Town in Raleigh, North Carolina

50 months ago

Cindy in Belleville, Illinois said: Two points come to mind: 1) Executives are very busy people; odds are they won't reach each other on a first call. It is more efficient for their administrative assistants to take care of such a task.

Keep in mind, the more you are informed the more you can "assist" and the more valuable you are to who you support - for meetings, presentations, even personal/family things (dental appt, kid's soccer game, anniversary (!), etc.), especially those things w/deadlines to their superior.

Here's some ideas to help.
Give boss a snapshot of the day - print daily, 3-day, etc. schedule with high priorities highlighted, etc. This keeps them up to date, keeps you informed, and you both start the day well. Also, give you a chance to delegate (assist) for the boss.

Set up a specific time to synch with the boss. More than one C-level has told me, I rely on you to keep me on time. Maybe first thing in AM, before/after lunch, @ 4:45PM, borrow B-berry and synch.

Hope these help. Yes, I've used them in the past. The best bosses I had were the ones that I "teamed with" like this.

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Small Town near Big Town in Raleigh, North Carolina

50 months ago

Kimuri in Troy, Michigan said: Can someone give me an example of what they did as an administrative assistant in their department to help improve its efficiency?

i.e., setup an excel matrix to show monthly expenditures for office supplies.

I am looking for ways to make my department more efficient.

I was the go to person for answers. Over 2 wks, set up an excel sheet with shortcuts to items I was most asked for. It ended up being only 2.5 pages.
Examples, current travel/reimbursement policies; "how do I find how much vacation I have?"; budget goals/benchmarks; how do I find all my e-mails related to XYZ subject?, what are HSA (health savings account) items?, etc.
Had ~5 columns with last date updated, category, subcategory, cross-reference/key words, contact name/number, and/or shortcut to online manual for any of these things, and at the bottom, a link to send me an e-mail for anything that needed to be added/deleted/changed.
This sounds simplified, however, about 3 months after sharing to the 65 people I supported, they became more self-sufficient = they took less time to find info and I had more time to focus on other priorities. Also, everyone had the current info - less time redoing work, people didn't save info on their PC's (less storage space used) - you see the trend.

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Mona in Brampton, Ontario

42 months ago

sweet, I would like to be a part of this conversation. Can somebody give an example of time management and how to prioritize when you have three to five important project to do at the same time...

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Danni in Dayton, Ohio

42 months ago

Mona in Brampton, Ontario said: sweet, I would like to be a part of this conversation. Can somebody give an example of time management and how to prioritize when you have three to five important project to do at the same time...

One way is to prioritize by date/time due. If all are due around the same time, then tackle the one that will take the least amount of time to complete. If there is a conflict w/two or more people who want their stuff asap let them know so they can provide direction. Absent their input, complete that which takes the least time first, etc.

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Still looking in Dayton, Ohio

42 months ago

EssGee - Thank you for posting your wisdom and advice. There are those of us who have not had to go through the interview process for some time and as a result, forget how to convey what it is we know how to do. Your examples are most welcome as they trigger our responses tailored to our own set of circumstances. I was unaware these forums had such helpful dialog.

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Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

41 months ago

Mona in Brampton, Ontario said: sweet, I would example ... three to five important project to do at the same time...

Color code of 5 - BRIGHTER color, more important.

Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red - Portfolios, not folders - left side is work to do, right side is work done or to be forwarded.
1) Orange - most brilliant - do now - approvals, urgent meetings, etc., special reminders
2) Yellow - to work that day (hence, yellow, proceed with caution)
3) Green - money - budget/money - approvals usually sent forward so that is higher priority.
4) Blue - that day's work, schedules, etc. - this was my link with the boss - the best working relationships I had with bosses we shared this as their daily working folder.
- had their today, weekly, & monthly schedules for key items highlighted; their printed e-mails w/critical items underlined/hi-lited, etc.
5) Red - overused as urgent - but, red = STOP, something you need to really look at, not do quickly.

CONSTANT ON DESK - White folder - this had synopsis of most used info to keep in desk or take - stands out on/in desk
Specials: black (confidential), teal (credit card/travel related), purple for personal (dr appt, b-days)

Project folders may have all been orange - used colored dots w/date, then positioned in 1 of 4 (5-not all months have 4 wks) positions of the week something was due. Quick look to see what he had.

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Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

41 months ago

Danni in Dayton, Ohio said: One way is to prioritize by date/time due. ... Absent their input, complete that which takes the least time first, etc.

I have been asked this question many times on interviews. I tell them I use the POW (ow) impact. Prioritize, Organize, Work = meaning what would really cause most heat fr superiors, work stoppage, cause a problem/accident, or cause non-payment. Worked with 16 rep's on call center. Boss wanted ppt presentation, however, 5 change orders needed to be reviewed/approved before the next line of aprovals went overseas - OK, no brainer - the change orders first.
For you, take a deep breath, then organize what you have to do. If possible, set each project folder/portfolio up in the same way, ie, approvals, budget, backup, schedule (timetable, goals, etc).

Usu supported 1-3 "bosses", then 3-10 direct reports. Kept 2 ascending type sorters on top of desk. Each direct report had their own set of portfolios. Each person, their name and icon was on folder tab. The icon could be college mascot, Marine emblem, etc., can grab folder w/o reading label. The only challenge I had was getting "signed" approvals back on time. Had this one licked, too. You got the orange folder with an e-mail reminder put on your calendar, then ~20% lead time follow-up e-mail. With the 3rd request, a folder that you really didn't want on your desk. For one of the direct reports (my boss was ex-army, report was ex-marine), it was a purple portfolio with pastel hearts on it. I had the approval 35 minutes after he got back to his desk - the first reminder was 2 wks prior. Went to boss about it (in jest) - boss said he had gotten a different "type" of folder. They both got a laugh and didn't miss another deadline request. It was in good humor and got the job done.

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Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

41 months ago

Susan in San Francisco, California said: I had this one thrown at me recently: "If I had a magic wand and could wave it and erase the worst work-related experience you've ever had...just 'poof'...make it go away like it never happened, what would that be?" And do you know that I actually got rejected for answering: "Well, I've had a few bad experiences, but I wouldn't want to erase any of them because each one, good and bad, has contributed to making me who I am today. I'm stronger and smarter because of my experiences, even the bad ones." She said that I sounded too "rehearsed." Now how could I have anticipated and prepared for that question?!

I agree with most of the responses to this question. However, I'd use a real life scenario. I worked with a temp on what was to be a long-term project, but, the scope was changed, budget cut, and project was cancelled. She was a great person and worker, but, there was no job left for her.
Bottom line: take something that really happened and use that. This question may be to see how you quickly you think to answer or in a situation that is uncomfortable. May sound like a childish question, but, could have been worst.

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Still looking in Dayton, Ohio

41 months ago

Didi....this is hilarious....you had both Marine and Army? Egads, but you know [having worked for defense contractors....] they all have that sense of humor [well, most do], and truly appreciate organized support staff [well, most do]. They must have love you :).

Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina said: I have been asked this question many times on interviews. I tell them I use the POW (ow) impact. Prioritize, Organize, Work = meaning what would really cause most heat fr superiors, work stoppage, cause a problem/accident, or cause non-payment. Worked with 16 rep's on call center. Boss wanted ppt presentation, however, 5 change orders needed to be reviewed/approved before the next line of aprovals went overseas - OK, no brainer - the change orders first.
For you, take a deep breath, then organize what you have to do. If possible, set each project folder/portfolio up in the same way, ie, approvals, budget, backup, schedule (timetable, goals, etc).

Usu supported 1-3 "bosses", then 3-10 direct reports. Kept 2 ascending type sorters on top of desk. Each direct report had their own set of portfolios. Each person, their name and icon was on folder tab. The icon could be college mascot, Marine emblem, etc., can grab folder w/o reading label. The only challenge I had was getting "signed" approvals back on time. Had this one licked, too. You got the orange folder with an e-mail reminder put on your calendar, then ~20% lead time follow-up e-mail. With the 3rd request, a folder that you really didn't want on your desk. For one of the direct reports (my boss was ex-army, report was ex-marine), it was a purple portfolio with pastel hearts on it. I had the approval 35 minutes after he got back to his desk - the first reminder was 2 wks prior. Went to boss about it (in jest) - boss said he had gotten a different "type" of folder. They both got a laugh and didn't miss another deadline request. It was in good humor and got the job done.

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crazy EA in Methuen, Massachusetts

39 months ago

Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina said: I agree with most of the responses to this question. However, I'd use a real life scenario. I worked with a temp on what was to be a long-term project, but, the scope was changed, budget cut, and project was cancelled. She was a great person and worker, but, there was no job left for her.
Bottom line: take something that really happened and use that. This question may be to see how you quickly you think to answer or in a situation that is uncomfortable. May sound like a childish question, but, could have been worst.

I don't understand how people can earn 40-80K/yr. as an EA and still not know how to spell or use correct grammar and/or punctuation. (The numerous commas aren't necessary and the word used should have been 'worse', not 'worst'. Apologies for the criticism, I just don't understand......

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Didi in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

39 months ago

crazy EA in Methuen, Massachusetts said: I don't understand how people can earn 40-80K/yr. as an EA and still not know how to spell or use correct grammar and/or punctuation. (The numerous commas aren't necessary and the word used should have been 'worse', not 'worst'. Apologies for the criticism, I just don't understand......

Why apologize for the criticism - you don't mean it. You're just looking for fault, being disrespectful, and hateful. This site is to support and help each other. I am very aware of correct grammar/spelling, etc. I have been on this site sometimes for hours conversing - I was tired - so, just get off your high horse and take the advice for what it was worth. Duh - does that splain et enuff.
Please don't respond. We don't need the childish hand slapping. Got more important things to discuss.
PS: Quite a few people have enjoyed my advice over the years.

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Donna Curry in Finch, Ontario

18 months ago

Thank you for sharing all of your questions and responses with us/me. I am getting ready to be interviewed for an EA's postion and this information was extremely helpful.

Donna

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Weatha Zing in Houston, Texas

14 months ago

Hello everyone,
I recently lost my job in a hospital setting. I am currently with a staffing agency and I have been interested in doing administrative support type work. I would prefer to do this time off work because it allows me to be home with my kids in the morning and at night. How do I sell myself with limited direct administrative assistant role. I do have a college degree however, most of the work I have done in the past has been in the healthcare setting. How do I SELL myself to potential employers? Please help?

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barbk in Hoboken, New Jersey

11 months ago

I was told to prepare for the following question...

"How would you keep me organized?" This would be coming from a director of a large hospital wing...

I don't really know what the right thing is to say in this instance, please advise.

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CEO Assistant in Redmond, Washington

11 months ago

Weatha Zing in Houston, Texas said: Hello everyone,
I recently lost my job in a hospital setting. I am currently with a staffing agency and I have been interested in doing administrative support type work. I would prefer to do this time off work because it allows me to be home with my kids in the morning and at night. How do I sell myself with limited direct administrative assistant role. I do have a college degree however, most of the work I have done in the past has been in the healthcare setting. How do I SELL myself to potential employers? Please help?

I suggest you obtain Microsoft Office certification so you will be able to prove that you have the requisite technical skills in Word, Outlook and PowerPoint at the very minimum. With this in hand, I think you would be a very good applicant for an administrative support role in a healthcare organization. (Or test yourself in the office applications online and provide your test results if you can't take the time to get certified. Your office skills will likely be tested during the job interview process, so it's a good idea to be prepared for this anyway.)

Another suggestion is start out with a temp agency and work in various industries while you're testing the waters. Good luck!

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