On Practically Perfect PA we have a series of blog posts for Assistants who are preparing for an interview. All posts contain five questions that are often asked in an interview for a new Assistant position. In this post, Interview Questions and Answers for PAs, EAs and Administrators Part 4, we will look at another five questions that I have been asked at various interviews over the years and my answers for them. But, before we start, here are the links to the other blog posts in this series:
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 answer 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.”
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 have implemented for your manager that saved them time and money.
If you haven’t really had the opportunity to change the working practices in your office think a piece of work that you completed that you were praised for. How did this task affect the overall business? Did it contribute to the bottom line?
When you go to an interview always make sure you have some examples of work that you have done that has been well received.
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 way 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 to 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 business acumen. A director that I worked with a few years ago was the only female on the Board and was very inspirational to 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 into 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 he 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.”
How do 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 multiple workloads and that you are happy to continue this. If this is the first time you have worked with more than one boss do stress that you are a good organiser and can prioritise your work well. We have lots of great blog posts on working with multiple managers, these posts will help you develop this interview answer.
“I like the challenge that working for multiple directors can bring. It does help keep me motivated as the work can be quite varied. For me, working effectively for both directors means I have to ensure that my work is well organised, that I understand and am aware of any deadlines and am fully aware 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.”
What are you looking for in terms of salary?
This is never an easy question, 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.
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There is a great deal more you can read to help you prepare for your PA interview, but the questions above will give you an excellent place to start.
Once you’ve worked through this blog post, I would highly recommend you check out our eBook ‘Preparing for the perfect PA job‘ which is perfect for anyone looking for their next Personal Assistant role.