Click through if you need advice with personal assistant interview questions or PA interview questions.


 Why do employers use telephone interviews? Employers usually use telephone interviews when they receive a lot of applications or are recruiting for a lot of positions. It’s a way of narrowing down the candidates into a number that it is possible for them to interview face-to-face.


 How long do they last? They varied in length, generally takes between 20-25 minutes but can take up to 1 hour.


 Advantages of telephone interviews:


For the employer:

They are time and cost-effective – most last about 20-25 minutes.

They test your verbal communication skills and telephone technique.


For you:

You can refer (quickly!) to your application form, take notes.

You don’t need to dress up or smarten up.

You don’t need to spend time traveling to interview or wonder if the employer will pay your expenses.


 Keep a copy of your application and information on the company handy, plus a pen and notepad to take notes. Have your laptop turned on in case you need it.


 Don’t just read out your notes as this will sound stilted.


 Smile when you dial! (and, more importantly, when you speak): it really does make a difference to your tone of voice.


 Sample Questions. Possible telephone interview questions may include:


Can you tell me a little about yourself? This question is commonly used by the employer to break the ice and to get the candidate to reveal some basic personality traits. The best response would be short and professional. Remember to stay focused as the employer doesn’t want to hear anything that doesn’t relate to their business!


Are you currently employed and where? In an ideal situation, you don’t want to leave one job without having another lined up; always answer this question direct to the point and honestly. Note: no negative talk even if your previous job came to a bitter end!


but If you are not employed…


when were you last employed and what is the reason that you are no longer there? Why did you leave your last company? If you are not employed be honest about your employment dates both verbally and written on your resume. Note: Always remember, “do not talk negatively about your previous employers.


What experience do you have in…? Make any discussion of your experience relevant to the deliverables of this particular job, and reference the specific skills you possess that enable you to do it well. At its core, this job exists to help the company make money in some way; and your work helps achieve this goal by solving problems and preventing problems from arising within your areas of responsibility. Your answers should show that you are a problem solver (and problem preventer) by nature, and that this problem prevention and solution attitude is always part of your thinking. You do this by giving concrete examples of problem identification and solution.


What made you apply for this position? This is one of those phone interview questions, which can be a little tricky. The reason being, that it can also be worded as “Why are you leaving your present job?”


 You want to emphasise the positives. So talk about what you perceive the growth opportunities to be at their company


 Where do you expect to be or what do you expect to be doing in five years?

Let the employer know that you’re stable and you want to be with this company for the long haul. Keep your aspirations to take over the firm.


 Tell me about the worst boss you ever had. Never, ever talk badly about your past bosses. A potential boss will anticipate that you’ll talk about him or her in the same manner somewhere down the line.

Suggestion > “While none of my past bosses were awful, there are some who taught me more than others did. I’ve definitely learned what types of management styles I work with the best.”


 You haven’t worked for a long time. Why not? You may have gaps in employment for many reasons. Be honest. Speak confidently about your experiences during the gaps. Some could transfer to on-the-job skills.


 What is your greatest weakness? The most common method is to turn a “weakness” into a strength. Talk about an actual challenge and how you overcame it. Use an example that might be related to the job or work of the company or agency.


Why do you want to work here? To answer this question you must have researched the company. Reply with the company’s attributes as you see them and how your qualities match them.


 Why should we hire you? Here you want to give a short overview of your accomplishments and how they will help them as an employer. Also mention any skills you have gained at former or your present workplace and emphasise how they match the job description of the role you are applying for.


 Behavioural questions These questions delve into your previous experiences in workplace based situations; they might also explore how you’d resolve a workplace problem by presenting you with a situation that you’re likely to face in the new role. Example: “Tell me about a time when you led a team to a positive result.”


 Give a brief outline of the situation, talk through the key steps you took to resolve/manage it, and summarize the outcome.


 What is your salary expectation? Be ready for any salary questions. These are tricky. Revealing your financial desires can be used as a measuring stick to screen you out because they can clue the interviewer to your “real” skill level. It’s always best to avoid answering any questions on salary until you have been offered the job. If questioned, respond to the interviewer by inquiring, “What is the range this job pays?”

▪    Try to deflect the question.

▪    If this doesn’t work, ask for their range.

▪    And if this doesn’t work, give them your range.

▪    When all else fails, you cite an exact figure based on your online research and networking.


Have you been asked any difficult interview questions? Do you have other answers to any of the questions? Please share them with us!

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Myriam Balerio is the founder and writer of PA Privé. After kick starting her career as a PA and finding success as an assistant, Myriam later trained in digital and online marketing and has since combined the two disciplines in creating PA Privé, the platform through which she provides sage advice for those in the assistant profession and a network for like-mined PAs and EAs to connect. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Myriam has lived in London for over 10 years and currently lives in London with her husband and French bulldog.


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