Job of a secretary has a steady place on the list of most popular positions amongst women in the United States. Many people do not understand it, because they do not grasp the real quality of this job. They believe that all she has to know is making good coffee and answering phone calls with smile on her face…
In fact, this is very far from the truth. A modern secretary has an important role in a company (or in a school, if you apply for a position of a school secretary) and often manages the entire office. She does lot of administrative work, prepares a schedule for the boss, assists with lot of things and sometimes even takes part on the meetings. All of this is reflected in a job interview. What more, she is often the one responsible for the good atmosphere in the office, which is crucial nowadays. Good institutions need good secretaries and they do the very best to hire them in an interview.
What is going to decide a winner in an interview?
Interview for secretary job is specific and can hardly be compared to any other interview. Personal preferences play a huge role on the decision making of the interviewers (typically the boss, hiring committee at the schools), especially in smaller organizations. “Bosses” try to hire people they feel good with, people they like to be with. Some people say it is a discrimination, but I do not think so. Every job has some requirements and this is one of the requirements on a suitable office assistant. It is similar to flight attendant position, on which beauty is the requirement. Secretary simply spends a lot of time with the boss and that’s why their relationship has to be good. Otherwise, it would not work.
However, you does not have to be former model to have a chance to succeed… All you have to do is to be pleasant in an interview, smile, communicate and show motivation to do the job. Little compliment on the address of the interviewers and good looking dress can not mar anything after all…
In ideal world, personal preferences would not play the role in an interview. Only qualification and skills would. However, we do not live in an ideal world. Therefor you need to accept the situation and do your best to use it for your advantage.
Answers to interview questions matter
Times when nice smile and deep neckline were enough to get a job of a secretary are gone. Nowadays, you need to answer many questions, show that you can listen, that you understand what is expected from you, talk to the point and carry out the daily job. On the top of that, interviewers will ask you several behavioral interview questions, to see how you act in different work related situations. Let’s have a look at it:
- Why do you want to become a secretary?
- Why do you want to be an assistant here (at our school, in our office, etc.), and not somewhere else?
- What do you want to accomplish on this position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years time?
- Can you tell me a little bit about your past working experience?
- What makes from you a better personal assistant than other applicants?
- How do you imagine a typical day in work if we choose you for this position?
- Tell me about a situation when you needed to work under pressure. How did you handle that?
- Can you work with MS Office? How would you rate your skills with typical Office software components?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Would you mind working overtime?
- Would you mind accompanying your boss on business trips?
- How would you cope with an angry customer or business partner?
- Have you ever prepared a weekly schedule for someone?
- Do you have experience with preparing letters, reports, bulletins, handbooks, etc.?
- When are you able to start?
- Do you have any questions?
Practical tests in an interview
To talk about the job is one thing, doing it another. Interviewers can ask you to do specific tasks in MS Excel or MS Word, or similar program. It is like a little test at school… They can for example give you a printed document with specific layout and let you to retype it into computer, to see how fast you type and how fast you work with the program, if you know the interface well.
They can also give you an IQ test, just to ensure you are intelligent enough to perform your daily job. Therefor, I suggest you to polish your knowledge of MS Office a little bit prior to your interview, as well as to complete at least one IQ test online, just to get some practice of it… (it will be a good exercise for your braincells, even if you do not get a test).
What to say at the end?
Answering the questions is one things, winning the hearts of your recruiters another one. This information is equally important, but should not be accessible for everyone. If it was, there would be no advanatge for the job seekers willing to do more… Are you ready to do something more???
If you want to ace your secretary interview, have a look at our Secretary Interview Package. You will learn how to win the hearts of all the interviewers and get any job of your choice. Good luck!