For the last month, I’ve been posting recordings from an interview with a transitioning military officer. This week, I’m making a shift to another job seeker – a professional administrative assistant. Top-notch admin assistants are unbelievably valuable to the companies and executives they work for. This individual has some great experiences, but has never been trained to interview effectively.
This is the first question from the interview:
Tell Me About Yourself
Listen to the Answer
This is interview was recorded and posted with the permission of the job seeker.
Like many job seekers I’ve interviewed, this individual didn’t see the point of the Tell Me About Yourself question. It’s not designed to find out about an individual’s personal life. It’s intended to get picture of the professional’s background, experience and potential. (By the way, I’ve heard how many dogs and cats job seekers have as an answer to this more times than I can count – it has yet to persuade me to hire someone or put them in front of a client.)
After her answer, I had to ask the follow up question, “Walk me through your career progression” to get at the information I was looking for. Even with the answer to the follow up question, the job seeker missed a great opportunity to highlight why she should be hired. This answer was a list of facts about what roles she had held. This is the time in an interview that she should be highlighting her best accomplishments and why she is successful.
Another problem with this answer is that it’s way too short. This candidate has done some great things in her career but the entire question, answer, follow up and answer took only a minute and eight seconds. The amount of time she spent on her current role – a position she has held for several years, was two seconds.
One last note about this answer… The job seeker starts by saying they are a “full adult.” This may seem like a very odd thing in an interview, but it’s a result of the misconceptions that surround admin assistants. It stems from the stereotype that admin’s are teenagers right out of high school doing menial hourly work. The truth is far from this. Good admin assistants are not kids and the work they do is not menial. Many executives will say that a good admin assistant is the most valuable member of their team. It unfortunately most don’t get the respect they deserve.