Congratulations! After carefully updating and submitting your resume and cover letter, you’ve been invited to an interview.
You’re not quite in a zen state of mind, but you’ve researched the department or organisation and secured insights into its people and operations. You’ve picked apart the position description to try and anticipate questions the employer or interview panel may have of you, and developed answers to showcase your fit with the role. You’ve chosen your wardrobe, so all that’s left to do is hover between anticipation and stress, right?
Not quite. You also want to consider that the interview represents an opportunity for both parties to mutually assess fit. First, the employer needs to determine whether you have what it takes to help them succeed, and how you compare with other candidates.
Both parties are searching for confidence that you can build a good working relationship
You, on the other hand, need to determine if the position, compensation package and organisation align with your aspirations. Will there be a good fit between you and the person to whom you’ll report? Be prepared to take advantage of an invitation to raise questions of your own.
Be prepared to ask questions of your own
This portion of an interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your preparedness for and interest in the role. It’s also one more opportunity to distinguish yourself from other candidates.
Have a look at the lists below. Give thought to which of these themes and questions you may want to incorporate into your interview. Tailor your questions to the role and what you know of the employer.
Then, raise only a limited number of questions when invited. Select them on the basis of what you learn before and during the actual interview. Remember, you want to leave a positive, professional impression; you don’t want to inundate people with questions.
- What are the key priorities over the first month / quarter/ year … and how can the incoming assistant support success on this front?
- If I was to start in this role tomorrow and develop my initial “to do” list, what would you recommend as my top three priorities?
- What are a couple of key qualities or personality traits your assistant will need in order to succeed in the job?
- How do you like to work with your assistant with respect to managing your email and calendar?
- What business practices have you and your current assistant established that you’d like to ensure are maintained?
- Are there any changes to practice that you’d like your new assistant to incorporate? Be thoughtful in how you phrase this. While one assistant’s departure often marks the ideal opportunity to incorporate change, you want to broach the matter in a respectful manner.
The work environment
- What does a typical work week, if there is such a thing, look like in this role?
- How did this opportunity come about? (Is the incumbent moving elsewhere within the organisation, or is this a new position?)
- Are there opportunities for growth and assumption of additional responsibilities/career development?
- What do you particularly enjoy about working here?
- What advice would you give someone stepping into this role?
- I understand that the organisation prides itself on “A” and “B” (here’s where your research kicks in); can you tell me a bit about the office culture, and how I could be a good fit?
- What are the greatest challenges and opportunities you see for the successful candidate?
Supporting the employer’s decision making
- Is there anything else you’d like to know about my skills and experience to support your decision making?
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