Everything will be just a bit better, or harder in this job. You’ll respond for more duties than a typical secretary does, they’ll expect a bit more from you in the job, and you’ll earn a bit more money.

And while there certainly is a difference, and not every secretary can become an executive secretary, the basics of the job remains in tact. The same can be said about an interview. Let’s have a look at it together.

 

The impression you make is more important than your interview answers

Secretary enjoys her new job in the office. Let’s face the truth: secretary is neither a nurse, nor a project manager.

The skills needed for this profession can be learned directly in the job, and one does not need to be gifted with extraordinary intelligence or talent to learn to take care of the working duties.

Every executive knows that. Therefor, first and foremost, they will consider your personality, and attitude. Do they feel good with you in an interview? Do you have good communication skills? Do you talk to the point? Can they imagine spending a lot of time with you, working together?

They will try to answer mostly these questions while talking to you, regardless of the tasks you will have to handle in the interview.

 

Practical test of your administrative skills

When recruiting secretaries (of different levels) for my clients (or conducting first rounds of interviews with them), I have always tested their clerical skills in the interview.

Giving them a sheet of paper with some text (formatted, headings, numbering, paragraphs, breaks, etc), I asked them to retype it to a word processor, and format it according to the original paper.

This was a simple and effective way of assessing their administrative skills, and much more.

How long it took them to finish the work (how quickly they worked), did they make any mistakes (attention to detail), did they have a good system of work (or worked chaotically), how they addressed a problem (in a calm cheerful way, or making strange grimaces), etc.

Such a test says a lot about the person, and I am sure I am not the only recruiter who uses it while hiring new secretaries, or other office workers.

Lesson to learn: Practice your skills with the most common word processor before you interview for a job. And work on a task in a calm, systematic and logical way.

 

Questions for executive secretary interview

You will face mostly personal and behavioral questions. Typically anything between seven and fifteen questions, inquiring mostly about your motivation, experience, skills, and attitude to various situations that happen in an office. Let’s have a look at some of the questions:

  • Why executive secretary? Because you already have some experience and feel ready for this level. Becasue you understand what will be expected from you in the job, and believe to have the abilities to handle the tasks, and to be a great companion for other people in the office.
  • Why our company? Because they happen to be located close to your apartment, or in a place where you always wanted to live. Becasue you have a lot of respect for what they do, for their products and services, and would be proud to work for them. Becasue you really like the job description, and/or the working environment in the company. A young woman interview in front of a small panel. She smiles and tries to create a fiendly atmosphere in the room.
  • Tell us something about your experience. Mention everything relevant, administrative work, customer service, hotel industry, office management, sales. Speak about your roles with enthusiasm, but do not go into details. Talk about the main duties you responded for, especially if they correspond with the duties you’ll respond for in your new job.
  • How do you imagine a typical day in work? Try to talk about having system in work, becasue most executives work very systematically. Such as checking the schedule of meetings in the morning and the correspondence, making a good cup of coffee for the boss, planning your day, and then working according to the plan, task after task, hour after hour.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Go with things that are central for the job of an executive secretary, at least when you talk about strengths. Responsibility, diligence, strong administrative skills, confidentiality, ability to work quickly, multitasking, strong communication skills, … you name it.
  • How would you cope with an angry customer, or business partner? Do not show any surprise when hearing the question. Some guests will be angry, and may even blame you for a bad service. But any of that should not waver with your confidence and courtesy. Say that you will fight anger with kindness, and smile. Say that a bad behavior of some guest won’t have any long term impact on you in job.
  • Can you work with MS Office? How would you rate your skills? Go for a modest answer. Say that you can work with the typical programs from the package, but know that you can improve. There is always some room for improvement. I do not suggest you to say that you can handle everything with Excel, since a practical test can always follow in an interview, and an average result in a test would destroy your credibility once you claimed to be fully proficient with the program…

 

More questions and answers, conclusion

Success in an interview for an executive secretary position depends on a lot of factors: your interview answers, the connection you manage to build with the interviewers, the quality of other applicants, your results in a practical test.

It is not easy to get it right. What is more, you will typically compete with a few skilled applicants for the job. You won’t be the only one…

If you want to learn something your competitors wont’ know, have a look at the Secretary Interview Guide from Jacob Gates, a reputable interview coach who wrote about a dozen articles for InterviewPenguin.com. Great answers to all difficult interview questions and winning interview strategies will help you to stand out, and make the best possible impression on the executives. Get the book and get an advantage over other job applicants…

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  • Secretary Interview (general)– Personal preferences play a role in a secretary interview. Learn how to make a good impression on your interviewers, how to connect with them on both professional and personal level.
  • New career ideas for everyone – Wanting to start afresh? Check the list of careers you can start anytime, regardless of your education or previous experience.
Antony

Antony

Antony is the administrator of Interview Penguin. He is responsible for customer service and website maintenance. Posts and pages published by him are either generic posts (contact, privacy, etc), or posts from guest bloggers who do not have an account with Interview Penguin.
Antony

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