Interview tips and questions

RMS Recruitment have compiled a list of tips and tricks to maximise your chances to getting that all important PA or secretarial position. Preparing correctly for an interview can be the different between failure and success. Our extensive experience as a recruitment agency means we've seen it all when it comes to interviews. Follow our general tips to give yourself the best job of landing that top London job. 

General Tips for PA, Admin and Secretarial Jobs in London

These tips have been collected from actual feedback from clients and consultants:

  • Research the company
  • List some good questions to ask
  • Plan your route (arrive 15 minutes before the interview)
  • Have an early night
  • Wear appropriate dress (your consultant can advise on the company style)
  • Good strong (not too tight) handshake
  • Take a copy of your CV for the interviewer but don’t use it for reference (this suggests fiction and prevents eye contact)
  • Relax and enjoy the interview – try and build a good rapport, be friendly but professional
  • Never swear, or put down work colleagues, previous bosses or employers
  • Be open with your answers and about your skills and experience but don’t talk too much or waffle
  • Smile!

Questions to think about

Why do you want this job?
Be positive about the job and your current and previous jobs (never put down work colleagues or previous employers as they will think the problem is with you). Try to think of other motivators for leaving apart from money, or shorter hours etc.

What research have you done on the company?
Impress them with your research. 
Have a look at their website – what do you think of it?

What qualities do you think they are looking for?
Write a list of your attributes and experience that will directly benefit this job. These may include communication, organisational or interpersonal skills, problem solving, analytical skills, typing, shorthand, leadership skills etc.

What can you contribute?
This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Talk about your achievements in your previous positions, which are relevant to the new position you are applying for.

  • Analysing your character/thought process
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would your manager get the best out of you?
  • How do you react to criticism?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • How would you describe yourself under pressure?
  • If we gave you the position and you find yourself struggling with the demands after a few weeks, what would you do about this?

 

Assessing your suitability for the role (skills/experience)

  • Tell me briefly about your career to-date
  • What is your understanding of the role for which you are applying?
  • What experience/qualities do you have that relate to this role?
  • What did you enjoy most about your last job?
  • Give me some examples of when you have worked to deadlines or targets
  • Give an example of a stressful/demanding work situation and how you handled it
  • Why do you want to join us?
  • Why should we give you the job?
  • Testing your commitment
  • Do you have any reservations about this position?
  • What do you think will be the most important thing you are looking for in your next job?
  • Why are you seeking new employment?
  • What sort of salary are you looking for?
  • What is the reason for leaving your last job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • Testing your interpersonal skills
  • Tell me about your relationship with your last boss
  • Have you ever worked with anyone that you didn’t get on with that well, and how did this affect you?
  • What is your greatest achievement to date?
  • Would you prefer to work for a man or a woman?
  • Would you have a problem working for somebody younger than you?
  • Do you prefer a team environment or working alone?

Possible questions you could ask the interviewer 

The interview is a two-way process and you need to have enough information to decide whether the position and company are right for you. Asking questions also shows a genuine interest in the company which will endear you to the interviewer.

Your consultant can advise you on the opportunities for progression and therefore questions regarding this should be limited accordingly.

  • Who will I report to?
  • Where will I fit into the organisational structure?
  • Can you tell me a little about the company culture?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What would you say are the best and worst parts of this job?
  • What are the future plans for the company?
  • How has the position become vacant?
  • How will my performance be assessed?
  • Do you offer any training opportunities?
  • What are the longer-term possibilities for promotion?
  • What will be my salary, benefits and bonuses (don't bring this up too early)?
  • What will my hours be like?
  • When will you be making a decision on the appointment?
  • Will there be further interviews?
  • What is the next step?

If you are interested in the job say so or say you will give feedback to your consultant and thank the interviewer for their time.

Feedback

After the interview it is best to speak to your consultant straight away while the meeting is fresh in your mind and the enthusiasm can be conveyed to your consultant. Positive feedback can be an important contributor to an employer’s recruitment decision.

RMS Recruitment will pass on the feedback from the client, whether positive or negative, to help with any areas that could be improved and assist you in securing your perfect secretary or executive assistant job in London.

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