Documentation Specialist is a fancy job title for yet another administrative professional working in both public or private institutions. You will work with documents–but you typically won’t write them. You will be responsible for labeling, classifying, cataloguing, storing, and eventually retrieving the documents, once someone is interested in seeing them–be it your colleague, legal authority, or an auditor.
On the creative side, you can suggest improvements to document storage systems they have in place in the company, or even devise a new system. And you may be responsible for creating guidelines on document use, and training the employees on how to follow the guidelines. But the core of your job will consists in storing and retrieving physical documents from the archive of the institution.
Let’s have a look at some questions you may face while interviewing for this job, which pays slightly better than most roles in administration and office management,and also attracts more job applications.
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Why do you want to work as a Documentation Specialist?
Because you always dreamed of spending day and nights in the archive. You love the smell of paper, and once your granny asked you what you’d love to do when you grow up, Documentation Specialist was your answer.
I am kidding, of course :). This isn’t a position kids dream about having, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad job. Try to explain to the interviewers how your skills and personal traits match with the position, or at least with your idea of the job.
You have excellent attention to detail and organizational skills. Responsibility is your nickname, and you enjoy categorizing and classifying stuff. Maybe you aren’t that strong in your communication with other humans, and prefer to work with files and records, down in the basement.
What’s more, you are in an excellent physical shape and prefer to stay healthy. Hence you enjoy moving boxes of documents from here and there to there and here, standing on your feet. Being pitched on a chair in front of a computer for ten hours a day really isn’t your cup of coffee, and something you dream about.
When everything adds up, Documentation Specialist seems like a fitting choice for you, at least at this stage of your professional career.
The job of a documentation specialist can be quite repetitive, or even boring. What will motivate you to try your best every day?
Ensure them that boredom is out of question when you have the right attitude to your work. The job may be repetitive–but so are 90% of other jobs. And you can actually use creativity, and hope to do so while bringing up ideas on improving their documentation storage systems, both online and offline.
What’s more, you know what gets you up in the morning, what goals you try to achieve with your work–both in the job and outside of it. This helps you with motivation on a low day, though you understand you may experience such days in work–just like everyone else.
Last but not least, you actually enjoy doing what documentation specialists typically do. Or at least you think so. And you are sure that days will bring their surprises and challenges, and the job won’t be completely repetitive.
How will you ensure you make no mistakes in your work?
You can suggest several ways of eliminating mistakes–for example double checking each document, before you label and categorize it, having a superb system in your work–knowing exactly, step by step, what to do with each new document you should take care of, and of course minimizing distractions.
You want to focus on your job, and do not plan to listen to music or check your Instagram feed each 30 minutes while working. As long as you stay focused, and have a good system in your work, you should minimize the number of mistakes.
Of course, you may still make a mistake–you are a human being after all, not a robot. If it happens, you will try to learn from it, identifying what exactly happened, why you made the mistake, and avoid repeating it in the future.
You will work with both online and offline documents in this job. How do you plan to protect your archives?
Backup is the most important thing. Say that you prefer to have all online documents archived on two separate servers (or on your own server and on a secure cloud), to ensure that if one of them is compromised, you have a backup. Strong password protection, firewall and antivirus software goes without saying.
Speaking about physical archive of documents (which will be your most important archive in many places), you will simply try to safeguard it. If fire alarms are in place, and you, and everyone else who enters the storage, adheres to safety rules and regulations, nothing should happen to the documents.
Four colleagues enter your office at the same time, each of them demanding a different document with urgency. How will you react?
Ensure the hiring managers that you will keep your head cool. This is not a stressful job, and you won’t let your colleagues to stress you out. You will simply address their requests, one by one. And while you will try to be quick, you won’t neglect some rules or safety regulations, just because someone is in rush.
Of course you may prioritize your colleagues, in terms of their position in the company. If the CEO (or their secretary) is one of the people in the queue, you’ll serve them first. But other than that you will simply take care of your job, adhering to all rules and standards, retrieving one document after another. The people will have to wait a bit–at least they learn some patience.
One of the employees brings you back one of the documents, but it is slightly damaged (torn corner, coffee is spilled on it, etc). What will you do?
Ensure the interviewers that you won’t just let them go, because they have an authority in the company, or because similar incident never happened to them, or because you are introverted. The least you can do is instructing them on the proper handling of the documents, and ask them to respect it in the future.
If you can make an authentic copy of the damaged document, you will do so and archive both the original and the copy. And if the incident repeats, and the same employee seems to always be drinking coffee (or something stronger) while working with the documents, you may even report them to their superior.
How would you decide whether someone is authorized to see a certain document, for example one of the employees, or a law enforcement officer?
Clear system of document classification is the right answer to this question. You plan to have all documents categorized according to the access level. While all employees may have access to some basic documents and files, other records will be confidential, or even highly confidential.
Knowing exactly who is eligible to access documents in each category (including the law enforcement officers and other legal authorities), it won’t be difficult for you to accept or deny the access to the archive. And you won’t make any exceptions.
Other questions you may face while trying to get a job of a documentation specialist
- What do you want to accomplish as a documentation specialist?
- Tell us about a time when you struggled to meet a tight deadline.
- How is your previous experience relevant to this role?
- Describe a situation when you had to work on multiple projects (tasks) at the same time. How did you prioritize?
- What do you consider your greatest weakness when we talk about working with documents?
- How do you manage your time in work?
- Do you consider yourself a detail-oriented person?
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- Have you ever worked on a project that was a failure?
- Tell us about a time when you used persuasion to successfully convince someone.
Conclusion, premium answers to all tricky questions
Documentation specialist is a fancy job title, and also a popular job–it is not stressful, you can sometimes spend all day chilling out in your office, and you will earn more than most other workers in administrative and office management.
Not surprisingly, you will typically compete with many other people for the position, which makes your situation more difficult.
What is more, when you interview for a job in a big corporation (Fortune 500 company), you will face many behavioral (scenario-based) questions (describe a situation when… , tell me about a time…).
If you are not sure how to answer such questions, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 most common scenario-based questions in big corporations (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get the job of a Documentation Specialist. Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you good luck!
Matthew Chulaw, Your personal job interview coach
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