Personal Assistant: The Interview

I had an interview last Friday for a part time PA position. It would be assisting a couple who are well into retirement but are very active in the community and are known for their philanthropy.

Although I am an independent PA, I was contacted through Linked In for the opportunity by a recruiter I have worked with in the past. It was definitely  worth taking a look, so I made sure to prepare myself and find out as much as I could prior to our meeting.

The Interview - the personal assistant

I must admit, the interview process is one of my strengths. I do get nervous, I won’t lie. But what I am good at is just talking to the interviewer without attaching any worry to how I am doing or what they are thinking. I really try to enjoy the conversation. It has certainly proved to serve me well.

The first thing to making a great first impression in the interview is to prepare for it.

So I will look up what I can about the company. I’ll get the details down; like when the company was founded, what it’s mission is, who have been the major contributors and where they are headed. Then I develop what points I want to bring up where I would bring value as an employee.

If I am working with a recruiter either directly through the company of an employment agency, I will ask the footwork for me. My experience has been they are more than willing to give me background on the person I am meeting and whatever insight they have on what would be the ideal candidate to fill the position.

As you probably already know, being an assistant has so much to do with fit. I try to get information about the person I would directly be supporting, how they communicate, and what their reputation is.

My first Personal Assistant experience was not a pleasant one, but on the flip side I learned so much in an eight month period. It didn’t take me more than one PA experience to learn about boundaries.

It is important to ask questions during an interview. Not asking questions will not serve you if you take on the job. This is the best chance you can take to squash any red flags that come up for you during the interview.

One of my big ones is knowing how isolated I will be at any given time. I’m an extrovert, so working in a home office with no exposure to other household staff or the public would drive me insane. I need and enjoy human interaction. Yet there are plenty of people who are completely fine working solo.

Look good, be professional, and be yourself. I wouldn’t pretend to be someone else just to land the job. That would quickly ruin any chance in success.

There will always be opportunities, and just as we are all individuals, so are there opportunities that are looking for our personality and characteristics.

I would sum up a successful interview by covering the following things:

  1. Prepare for your interview. Research the company and your potential boss.
  2. Professional, neat, and pleasant appearance.
  3. Ask questions, especially the ones that matter to your satisfaction on the job.
  4. Thank the person, every person who interviews you. Personal notes are not really necessary in this day and age, but it will make you stand out.
  5. Focus only on the positive. Rephrase any learning experiences from past jobs with a positive twist.

Email me if you have any questions!

How to Market Yourself

How to market yourself as a personal assistant will take time and experience. Since I have been in admin assistant roles my whole  career, it is my professional experience that speaks for itself.

How to market yourself - the personal assistant blog

But if your intention is to stand out in a sea of competitive PA‘s seeking the best experience and opportunity, it will be up to you to offer something else that no one else does.

A unique skill I bring into my work is having competed as a National Physique competitor. My competition years, although few always comes up in my interviews and is seen when recruiters or business owners do a Google search on me.

What makes this a unique skill is that in personal assisting, you will get to know all the goals that your boss wants to obtain. I happen to always work with people who either have a fitness goal or some level of commitment to their health. Having great knowledge about nutrition and fitness to reach goals has been a great asset. I have experienced the ability to grow my relationships with my bosses.

So think of something that you enjoy doing, knowing that if it is a skill you continue to develop, you can most likely work it into your profile and make you stand out.

Some skills that are great to have in our current market place are the following:

  • A keen interest in creating an internet presence. Maybe you know the top social networks and can Tweet or post on behalf of your boss or the company they own.
  • Blogging. This is one of my strengths, clearly, as you are reading this site! It’s a great way to market yourself and continue to sharpen your skill. Sharing these skills is important. You want to promote your creative talents so don’t hold back.
  • Graphics. I decided to take a Photoshop class. I have to admit, it has come in handy. It’s just one of those things that it may seem like a hobby or personal interest, but it may benefit you in the office.

If for some reason you don’t think you have a unique skill to market and make you stand out above the rest, I have a hard time believing it. Every person has a special skill or creative gift that comes naturally. You just want to ask yourself how you can possibly work this into your professional portfolio.

Also, knowing how to market yourself is crucial if you are trying to grow your career and your income. You already know this is a unique job. There are not a lot of people who have a deep desire to become a personal assistant. For some reason it really interests you, so I am hard pressed to think you have nothing extra to offer.

The personal assistant is special in that depending on who your boss is, you might have before you the opportunity that can shift you into a role that has not even yet been created. Meaning, your special talents can mean you take on projects that utilize your creative gifts. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

So, if you’re dismayed in any way and start to stress that you HAVE TO have an extra skill to make you special, don’t be. It is not a requirement, but it will help you rise (rather easily if I say so myself) above the rest. If you have any questions on how to define or determine that special trait, email me! I’d love to connect with you.

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