Following on from Monday’s blog here are another five interview question and answers specifically for assistants.
1. How do you work within a team?
A lot of assistants work with just their manager so it is important to stress that you consider this to be a partnership and in effect you are working together as a team. If the new role requires you to work in a department supporting a number of people the answers should detail the excellent skills you have that will help the team succeed
“I work well in a team and like to support others. I consider the work I do with my director to be a team effort and I get a lot of satisfaction seeing them succeed in their role. I do work well on my own but I also like to get involved in projects and feel that I can contribute to any group work either using my creative or organisational skills. I am easy going and generally quite cheerful so I also think that approach to my work helps with the team dynamic.”
2. Tell me about one thing you have implemented at work for the better?
Time to dig out an example of something that you have done that makes you look amazing! Think about a project you have worked on that made a difference or an organisational trick you implemented for your manager that saved them plenty of time. If you haven’t really had the opportunity to change the working practices in your office I would suggest you embellish what you have done slightly… I wouldn’t say make something up but you do need to answer the question and how will the new employer know the details?
3. Can you tell me about one person you’ve liked working with and why and the same for one person you’ve disliked?
In no why shape or form speak badly about one of your colleagues and how you couldn’t stand them (even if it is true!) This question is more about you than it is about the person you are discussing. Also try and say more about the good person you worked with rather than the bad. I would say something like this.
“I’ve worked with some great people over the years that have really helped me develop my career and my personal work style. A director that I worked for a few years ago was the only female on the Board and was very inspirational for me. She was good at delegating work and gave me lots of interesting projects to work on and trusted me to make decisions on her behalf. She also injected a lot of fun in the team and encouraged us to socialise together outside of work. I did work with a manager a few years ago that I struggled to get on with. I think at the time his position in the company was under threat and to compensate he would try to exert power over me by giving me very menial tasks and could be quite disrespectful. I put up with his behaviour for a while because I wanted to understand why he was acting in that way. I did have to push back and in the end I think he respected me because I stuck up for myself.”
4. How to you work with two or more directors?
If you are applying for a role that requires you to work with two or more directors then you will need to demonstrate that you can do this without a hitch. Use specific examples of how you have juggled both work loads and that you are happy to continue this. If this is the first time you have worked with more than one boss stress that you are a good organiser and can prioritise your work well.
“I like the challenge that working for two directors can bring and it does help keep me motivated as the work can be quite varied. To make sure that I am working effectively for both directors I ensure that my work is well organised, that I understand and am aware of any deadlines and understand each of their priorities. I also stress to the directors that I need to stay in touch with them throughout the day in case their work becomes more urgent than the others and I also make sure we have regular catch ups so that I am fully informed of their schedule. It can be a juggling act but one that I enjoy.”
5. What are you looking for in terms of salary?
Eeek! This is my least favourite question! I really struggle to talk about money or salary with anyone even if I’m not really happy with how much I’m being paid. I’ve read somewhere that is quite typical of women compared to men… but no excuses in a job interview you have to sell yourself and you have to really believe that you are worth the money that you think you are. Ideally you should have a rough idea of what the salary is going into the interview but if they try to offer a lot less do remember to stick to the amount you know you are worth. It will be awkward at the time but you will regret it later when you don’t think you get paid enough. Remember that you can always say during the interview that you will go away and think about their offer and then negotiate over the phone or by email.
Good luck to anyone out there that is going for an interview soon, I hope the Q&A’s have helped.