Tips for a Successful Interview

  1. Ensure you are thoroughly informed about the position and the organization before your interview. Whenever possible get a job description or review the details of the position. You should know approximately what the salary range is for the position (particularly if going through an agency). Research the organization and affiliations. Be aware of recent mergers, activity, downsizing, growth and competition. Be aware of all products and services. Know at least some of the key names within the organization. However, do not use this information too readily. It may intimidate the interviewer!

  2. Take copies of your resume, reference letters, performance appraisals, samples of work, transcripts of education and any other information you have in order to present yourself positively. Make sure you are familiar with all dates and information on your resume. Be prepared to go into detail and to answer specific questions which may relate to situations you have had to handle; for example a conflict with a co-worker, or where you may have had several people needing work done at the same time (sometimes called Behavioural Interviewing).

  3. Make sure you know the exact location and how to get there. Allow for extra time in case of traffic or transit problems. Do you know where to park? Are you familiar with the transit route? Get there five or ten minutes early.

  4. Dress should be appropriate, businesslike and conservative. Grooming should be impeccable. Invest in one or two business suits with coordinating shirts/blouses, well-heeled shoes and a briefcase (Pantyhose is a necessity for women). Always look successful.

  5. When meeting the interviewer, give a firm handshake, address your interviewer by name, smile and make eye contact. Answer questions in a conversational but professional manner. Keep your responses pertinent to the questions. You may be asked to talk about yourself, but keep your entire life history to non-business situations! An interviewer is interested in how you and your experience best suit the position and the company. Do not take notes, and do not be concerned if your interviewer takes notes. Never speak negatively about present or previous work situations.

  6. At the end of the interview you may have an opportunity to ask questions. Express enthusiasm and interest in the company and the position. Thank the interviewer for their time. You may ask what the next step would be in their hiring process. Do not discuss money/salary during the interview, or ask about benefits and vacation, unless the interviewer introduces these subjects. End the interview with a handshake.

  7. A follow-up note or thank you letter sent after the interview, if you are interested in the position and organization, is a good way to keep your name visible. A follow-up call within a week is a good idea, if you have not been contacted. Even if the position is not perfectly suited to you, the organization could be hiring for another position shortly, so always leave a positive impression.

  8. If an agency arranged the interview for you, call them immediately. It is important for the agency to get your response about the position, before they talk to the employer. A positive response from you can often lead to a positive response from the employer. Keep in touch with your agency.

  9. Always create a positive impression when interviewing. Do not make any decisions about whether you want this opportunity during the interview. Give yourself time to process all the information. Often there are other positions available that may be more suited to you, and this is your opportunity to prove yourself. Get the job offer. You can always say no, but leave the door open for the future.

Many interviews are not successful because the applicant decides during the interview process that they do not want the position. This is often based on trivial factors such as: getting lost on the way to the interview, not liking the personality of the interviewer, not having the correct information about the job/salary/benefits and a variety of other miscellaneous factors. Interviewers respond negatively to this; consequently the "chemistry" is not right, and the interview does not result in a job offer. BE POSITIVE!

Your Resume

Your resume is your calling card. Make sure it presents you in your best light.

A potential employer will usually devote only 10 to 15 seconds to initially look over your resume.

The resume, career objective and cover letter should be tailored to the specific position you are seeking/responding to. Try to use words and phrases in your cover letter that appear in the job description.

Any education related to the position should appear before your employment history, including any university degrees.

Keep your resume short and to the point. It should be no more than 2 pages in length unless a CV has been requested. Use bullets for position details.

Make sure that the work history most related to the position desired is on the front page. Anything that is not related should be pared down in terms of space.

Synopsize where possible rather than go into lengthy descriptions and avoid using terminology that is industry specific, or not self-explanatory.

Don't include work history that goes back more than 10 to 12 years. The last three positions should be sufficient to show your career history.

Computer skills and extra courses can be listed at the end of your resume.

Do not list interests and hobbies, or extracurricular activities, unless they are related to the position.

Make sure your resume does not have any typographical, formatting or grammatical errors! Have someone else look over the final format before sending. Do not rely on spell check.

Sample Resume:

JANET DOE
123 Anywhere Street
Toronto, ON M2M 1Y1
Tel: 416-333-1212
Email: jdoe@server.ca

PROFILE

A versatile and creative results oriented administrative professional with extensive office based skills, experienced in both the public and private sectors. Key strengths include supporting and assisting senior management as well as strong organizational and communication skills.

EXPERIENCE

MINISTRY OF CREATIVE ENERGY
Administrative Assistant to Director

2002 - Present

  • Manage the administrative needs of Branch Director
  • Prepare and distribute daily, weekly and monthly reports
  • Coordinate paper flow and communications for both Senior Managers
  • Take and prepare minutes at all meetings
  • Manage schedule, maintain electronic calendar
  • Keep daily planner, schedule meetings and ensure all appropriate documentation provided; arrange venue and catering
  • Keep all databases updated
  • Arrange with vendors to acquire staff for contract positions, including interviewing and reference checking
  • Order supplies, code and reconcile invoices
  • Schedule travel, arrange itinerary details
  • Create and maintain filing systems

ABC COMPANY
Executive Assistant to Senior Partners

Feb 2001 - June 2002

  • Provided efficient liaison between customers and partners
  • Booked all travel and accommodation, prepared itineraries and agendas
  • Prepared correspondence for partners
  • Liaised with new contacts for presentation program
  • Managed phones and appointment calendars for Partners
  • Ordered supplies
  • Updated all databases
  • Set up in-house meetings for presentation coaching sessions

345 COMPANY
Executive Assistant to Vice-President Sales & Service Delivery

Aug 1992 - Dec 2001

  • Managed the administrative needs of VP, Area Manager, Wealth Management Manager; drafted all written correspondence; arranged and coordinated meetings
  • Liaised between Branch Managers and VP, and gave administrative support to the Branch
  • Prepared and distributed daily, weekly and monthly reports to Senior Management and Branches
  • Managed the full administrative needs of the office, including coordinating monthly branch meetings; balanced expense GL's, and maintained all office policies and procedures
  • Trained all Branch staff in administrative duties and provided first level technical support on hardware and software
  • Arranged and coordinated internal and external training sessions
  • Researched, arranged and finalized the quarterly output of company newspaper
  • Researched and gathered information for mergers & acquisitions

EFG COMPANY
Executive Assistant / Operations Manager

1990 - 1992

  • Prepared all correspondence for President, Director & Sales Manager
  • Arranged all meetings for President
  • Organized and ran advertising programs, including arranging prizes
  • Liaised with radio and television stations for running of promotions
  • Arranged marketing pieces, e.g. flyers, promotional pieces; liaised with printers
  • Worked with copywriters in preparing pieces for radio and television
  • Set up and ran booths at trade shows
  • Operations management; paid bills, staff, purchased supplies

TECHNICAL SKILLS

Completed advanced courses in MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook), Filemaker Pro, Access, Project

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Being the Executive Assistant, Stress Management, Business Letter Writing, Grammar & Proofreading Skills, TeleMarketing, and numerous in-house training programs