Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Elizabeth Heron, senior editor of iresumecoverletter.com. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this post.
One of the most attainable jobs for college students and recent college graduates is a position as an administrative assistant. Working as an administrative assistant for a law firm, a nonprofit, or another company can help you get your foot in the door with an employer and may lead to more exciting positions later on. While working as an administrative assistant, you will have access to executives and clients and you’ll learn what makes the company tick. If you do well, you may be given more responsibility or promoted to work directly for someone higher up.
If you desire to become an administrative assistant, but find yourself struggling to make a good impression during the interview process, pay attention. There are steps you can take to improve your skills and secure better chances of employment. While no one strategy is appropriate for every person, using these guidelines in interviews will prepare you for success.
Find out what the job entails.
Making and recording appointments, maintaining systems of data and organization, running an interoffice phone and messaging system, and managing communication between departments are just a few of the responsibilities of an administrative assistant. Being able to multitask and speak intelligently to others are a must. Analyze your skills, assess your knowledge of the job, and improve areas of weakness before the interview. Demonstrating that you are prepared to handle all aspects of the job will give you a better chance of being hired over your competitors.
Do your research.
Learn as much about the company as you can before going to the interview. Many hiring managers will offer you a chance to ask questions about the company as part of the interview. Use that opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of their inner workings, as this is indicative of how serious you are about being hired. Come prepared with specific questions and be willing to share what you’ve learned about the company when asking them.
Perfect your résumé and portfolio.
Every professional vying for a position knows how important it is to make a good impression on paper, that is, your résumé, cover letter, and if necessary, a portfolio that demonstrates the integrity of your work. Make sure that your résumé is impeccable and up to date. Your cover letter should be succinct yet enticing to readers who want to know more about you, and your portfolio (if required) should include a few well-chosen pieces that demonstrate your talents and abilities as they are relevant to the job you are pursuing. Check out a cover letter example for more information about drafting your application materials.
Familiarize yourself with the company’s expectations.
Every employer has an idea about what the most desirable employee looks like. Find out what qualifications are important to them (certainly everything that’s mentioned in the job posting), and do your best to display competence in these areas. Stress these as strengths in your interview, and ask for clarification about the company’s expectations so that you can begin your tenure with a good understanding of what will be required of you. Taking a vested interest in the position and highlighting how you are well-prepared for the job are excellent indicators that should leave your interviewer(s) feeling good.
Practice interview questions.
Develop key answers for questions regarding your qualifications, strengths, weaknesses, and work experiences. Most of these questions are standard to any interview. Drafting and practicing your responses will ensure that you answer the interviewer’s questions thoroughly, and you will be more at ease knowing that you have some of the more important basics already covered.
Practice data entry skills.
Many hiring managers, in anticipation of having to hire an administrative assistant, will offer impromptu data entry tests to see how your skills measure up. Skills such as typing and dictation will be assessed with respect to timing, efficiency, and accuracy. Be ready to perform when you arrive on site by practicing some data entry under time constraints before your interview.
Think through your first impression.
What will your facial expression convey when you walk into the room? How about that first welcoming handshake? What will you choose to wear to your interview? What kind of impression do you want to leave the hiring committee with? These are all questions that you must consider as the big day approaches. You should convey an image of competence, confidence, and uniqueness that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. How can you convey all of this to your new boss?
Choosing a trusted friend or family member to lead you through a couple of full-length practice interviews will be a helpful experience as you approach the real thing. Often, an outside perspective is what you need to become more aware of the image you are projecting. This is the time to get essential feedback on the quality of your answers, as well as your mannerisms, body language, and the like. It all counts toward your overall impression at your interview, and having the opportunity to fix small problems and practice areas of inconsistency will make you more confident going into it.
Go get ‘em!
Do your research, practice your skills, get a good night of sleep, and dress for success. Stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your confidence and professionalism. With these tips in mind, you'll ace the interview and land your desired administrative assistant position.