After resumes have been screened for the admin assistant positions and candidates have been filtered for the next level; the interview process will be run as follows:
1. Prior preparation for the interview
• Determine the amount of time needed for the interview, how many questions will be asked, etc.
• Making a standardized list of questions so all applicants are asked the same questions to ensure fairness and measurable results.
• Developing a scoring guide or model answers as provided by job analysis or supervisors who have experience with the same job.
• Arrange for the interview location and book necessary rooms for interviews
• Schedule the interview with sufficient time for a break and to allow each panel member (if applicable) enough time to ask the cndidate.
• Arrange to hold all incoming calls and all possible distractions.
• Welcoming the candidate and accompanied with a handshake.
• Offer the candidate a seat “Please have a seat/ Make yourself comfortable”
• Allow the candidate a few moments to get settled.
• Introduce myself (Name & position, “I will be your interviewer today”
• Break the ice (Congratulate them for reaching to this step of the interview process- how was your drive here- talk about weather to ease the candidate)
2. Provide Initial Information to the Candidate
• Let them know the flow of the interview – the basic agenda.
• Provide an outline of the position the candidate is being interviewed for.
• Inform them of the types of questions that will be asked and that all candidates will be asked the same questions to ensure a fair and consistent interview process
• Inform them they will be given the opportunity to ask any questions at the end.
• Inform the candidate that you will be taking notes during the interview.
• Take detailed notes and avoid impressions, be objective and recording only candidate’s answers.
• Ask the candidate the starting questions regarding what they know about the company and their experiences and education as it relates to the position.
• Ask the candidate the Behavioral Descriptive Interview Questions with Accompanying Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale section.
• Take detailed notes.
• Ask the candidate if they have any questions.
• If the candidate does not ask, inform them regarding the timeline of the decision and method of contact.
• Ask for references.
• Thank the candidate for their participation in the interview and interest in the company with a handshake.
• Escort the candidate out.
• Reviewing interviewer notes and making
A competency is a specific quality that a company’s recruiters and managers have decided is desirable for employees to possess based on company’s mission, vision and values and nature of work. During interviews and assessment processes, competencies are used as a measuring base that assessors use to rate and evaluate candidates. A Competency Dictionary is a list of all the competencies that are required by an organization to achieve its mandate. A competency dictionary also includes information on the proficiency level needed to successfully perform each competency for each position in the organization. There are three levels of competencies; Core, Functional and Job Specific in which as a recruiter, I will choose 2 competencies from each category to test my candidates against. These will be discussed below;
1. Core Competencies
a. Continuous Learning and Development
Wilson Brothers employees have to understand and model the company’s mission, vision and values, and actively challenge traditional ways, seeking more efficient and effective methods for improvement processes for both oneself and the company through new methods and solutions. All employees must demonstrate the willingness and ability to adapt to a fast-paced, constantly changing environment, while working to actively improve oneself by both personal and professional needs, seeking and pursuing continuous learning opportunities while demonstrating a “can-do and will-do” approach to all tasks and inspiring others to excel and grow within the company.
b. Ethics and Support of a Diverse Culture
As we live in a multi cultured country and we interact from people from all around the globe and from different backgrounds and beliefs, all Wilson Brothers employees must adhere to the highest standards of respect and integrity while focusing on aligning the company’s mission, vision, and values through all company processes and jobs, while maintaining a high level of confidentiality for all information and positively representing the company, both inside and outside of their professional lives. Employees must actively participate in fostering diversity and treating others regardless of race, sex, faith, or sexual orientation. All employees must value and actively seek diverse perspectives and ideas, understanding that these are opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally. Any sort of discrimination is not tolerated in Wilson Bothers. Wilson Brothers is an equal opportunity employer and all background are welcome.
2. Functional Competencies
Employees who share the same occupational family even though they belong to different positions have to demonstrate a strong ability in effective written and spoken communication through a variety of means, including in-person, telephone and electronically, while actively expressing and stating own opinion both clearly and concisely, explaining points of view in a sound and logical manner and actively engaging others for both their input and feedback. They must also actively portray an open and honest demeanor and exercise a professional approach with others in all appropriate means of communication. Employees must show patience and acceptance of others opinions even if different from their own and must find ways to prove their opinion right in an acceptable and decent demeanor.
Employees must collaborate with other staff, coworkers, and management in an inclusive and harmonious way to get the job done, with the focus on getting the job done while incorporating different views and opinions into work and conveying critical information with everyone involved in a project, while responding positively to feedback, instructions and company procedures. Employees must seek opinions from others and set a tone of cooperation within work groups and cross-functional lines and demonstrate the ability to direct and motivate a team, to ensure all goals and deliverables are completed to the highest company standards in the correct time frame.
3. Job-Specific Competencies
a. Planning and Organizing
Admin assistants must set clear and measurable goals with subsequent breakdowns of each goal, prioritizing time to maximize efficiency and effectiveness for both oneself and their manager, ensuring all deadlines are met while adjusting plans to account for changing situations and actively monitor performance to ensure everything is according to schedule. They must effectively manage and optimize their managers’ schedule and agenda through anticipation of upcoming and planned events and meetings, as well as the day-to-day meetings, and coordinate with other Administrative staff and departments to ensure their manager’s schedule is accurate and that everything is set. Admin assistants must prioritize events and actively ensure the follow-up of information on all projects and requests through appropriate means of communication, and ensuring all information is maintained and stored proficiently and available to the manager whenever needed.
b. Problem Solving
Admin assistants must be able to anticipate potential problems, recognize them, and apply sound logic to reach decisions based on reason and facts through assessing the problem and how each potential solution may affect company objectives. They must adapt to changing priorities, directions and deadlines, and possesses the ability and willingness to act under tight deadlines, pressure or criticisms, and is not afraid to seek resources and aid from coworkers or supervisors.
Behavioral Descriptive Interview (BDI) Questions with Accompanying Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)
Continuous Learning and Development
This is very sensitive and fast-paced, growing environment that requires constant changing and continuous improvements from your side. Tell me about a time where you needed to learn new information about changing products, markets, or procedures and tell me what you did. Where did you go to get your information? What were the steps taken? What was the outcome?
Score 1: I have never had the chance to learn new information; but when I got the chance, I usually just guessed and went by my intuition.
Score3: I took a basic course or conducted basic research to upgrade my skills and knowledge based on what I thought I needed to learn about the new products, markets, or procedures.
Score 5: I discussed my training need with my supervisor and asked for the opportunity to partake in as many as possible as long as the budget is kept. I am constantly looking for feedback from my supervisors and my peers, and conduct research to stay current on the changing marketplace, constantly seeking opportunities to improve myself both on the personal and professional level.
Diversity Support and Ethics
Interacting with coworkers from different backgrounds, cultures, or beliefs can be challenging at times. Tell me about an incident where you were faced with a person from a different background, culture or belief. Did you face any problems? What was your reaction? How did the situation end? Have you learnt anything?
Score 1: We did not work well together and were unable to do so because of some disagreement or barrier that seemed to exist or I usually avoid contacting people who seem to be from a different background than mine.
Score 3: I did my best to try and understand what they were saying and their point of view based on their background, utilizing their ideas where I thought they might apply, but eventually did the majority of the work myself to avoid possible disagreement.
Score 5: I stepped out right away to understand where my colleague was coming from, and when required, I asked for clarification from them when I did not fully understand what they were saying and did so likewise for the individual when they did not understand me. Once this barrier was removed, I was able to learn a great deal from the person and really valued what they brought to the table and the project; the project was a success because of the diverse solution we created.
Tell me about a time where you had to communicate with another person even when that individual may not have agreed with your ideas and how you dealt with the situation. Why did you handle it that way? What was the result? What did you learn? How might you have done it differently?
Score 1: I told the person that I was right, and they were wrong. And I refused to listen to other opinions and did it my way anyways
Score 3: I changed my perspective to align more with the other persons to try and meet common ground or I discussed our different perspective with the individual in front of others.
Score 5: I took the individual aside and discussed with them their point of view in comparison with my own, and the advantages and disadvantages of each opinion. I took some time to consider what they had said, looking at it logically, and advised the individual to do the same. I remained confident and calm throughout the process and together we were able to meet on common ground.
Describe to me a time where you had to work as a member of a team to achieve an important goal. What was the goal or objective? What was your role? What did you do and why? What way your contribution to the overall project? What was the end result? Would you do the same thing again?
Score 1: I was unable to effectively work as a member of the team, there were too many conflicts, or I hate teamwork and avoid it at all costs or I work best when I am alone.
Score 3: I met with my team and we split up our work individually, having occasional meetings to update everyone on our progress and eventually combining our work together into the final project.
Score 5: I met with my team members and discussed their expectations of the project, as well as their expectations of myself and our team members. I suggested we create a team charter, indicating processes for communication, deadlines, roles and feedback from the other individuals when needed and offered feedback to others freely, and put the team’s goals ahead of my own goals, making a valued contribution to the team. When a conflict arose, I remained objective, and provided my opinion in an unbiased way and this helped my team to discuss the issue at hand and suggested a compromise.
Organizational skills and Planning
One of the most important competencies of an Administrative Assistant is the ability to effectively plan, prioritize and organize several tasks daily. Describe to me a situation that required you to do several things at the same time? How did you handle it? How did you organize and schedule the tasks? What tools did you use? How did they help? What was the result?
Score 1: I like to focus on each task at a time as I get overwhelmed with juggling all the tasks and was not able to get everything done on time.
Score 3 I scheduled my tasks based on which I felt most important to get done and stayed late to get everything done when needed.
Score 5: I utilized my skills in MS Office and scheduling software to help me effectively plan for that month with several features including task lists and alarms to ensure I met deadlines on time, as well as Excel to map out my progress and keep my tasks organized. These programs helped me break down tasks into manageable goals and I was able to prioritize each goal, ensuring I maximized my time.
Good problem solving often requires reviewing the facts and weighing all possible options before making a decision. Give me an example of a time where you reached a decision by a review of the facts and weighing of the options. What option did you choose? Were you satisfied with your decision? Would you do the same thing again? Why or why not?
Score 1: I decided to go with what appeared to be the solution I was most used to without reviewing the facts or weighing the options.
Score 3: I took some time to look at the options and alternatives, then decided which alternative appeared the most beneficial even though I wasn’t sure.
Score 5: I defined the problem to be solved and the decision to be made and then gathered the necessary information on it. From there I listed all possible choices and considered the pros and cons of each choice, and related the choice to mine, or the company’s value and priorities. If I needed feedback from my peers or management, I requested it. From the possible choices I chose one and I committed to that choice. I look back and evaluate my progress from time to time.
Hiring Decision Report
A rating of 5 was given for the candidate’s response for the Continuous Learning and Development question. The candidate demonstrated several platforms of research and support that they pursued to tackle the project task that they were faced with and indicated that they pursued further opportunities for self-development and training, as well as obtaining feedback from their manager on an ongoing basis to ensure they were up to standards. To obtain a score of 5, my scoring guide required both active elements of continuous learning utilizing several methods of research or training opportunities to stay updated on the market or a task. They met the requirement on this BDI to receive a 5 on the BARS model for this question.
For the Ethics and Support of Diversity question I assigned a rating of 5 for the candidate’s response. I was very impressed by the candidate’s creativity and resourcefulness when faced with a manager from a different background other than her own. The candidate has faced a manager from a very religious and conservative background in which she had faced difficulties dealing. Rather than giving up, she took the initiative to ask and research through their problems and through body language was able to remedy the conflict; without doing so, the conflict would have undoubtedly continued, and work would have been obstructed. The candidate demonstrated that overcoming a cultural barrier and attempting to meet a person halfway can go a long way towards cooperation and enriching the organizational environment. To obtain a 5, my BARS required an individual to attempt to understand why the barrier existed, ask clarification if needed, and overcome the barrier, or show a continued effort to try overcoming it, to ensure a diverse working environment. They met the requirement on this BDI to receive a 5 on the BARS model for this question.
For the Communications question I assigned a rating of 5 for the candidate’s response. My BARS for the Communications BDI required a candidate to discuss their difference of opinion with the conflicting individual in private to try and see both sides of the perspective. The candidate needed to look at both sides in a logical manner and to remain calm and level-headed and professional throughout the process. The candidate approached one of the managers with her point of view on contracting new suppliers as the old ones have increased their price and this was causing the company to spend more money. The candidate attempted to see the managers perspective on his preference before she conducted research and performed benchmarking to make a logical and sound decision, as well as obtained a quotation from the new suppliers, and consistently went back to try reasoning with the conflicting manager. She remained calm and confident through all these private encounters despite being frustrated, and only after several attempts she took her perspective to her supervisor to ask for advice. She also expressed utilizing additional communications methods in the future to resolve the issue without going to her supervisor. The candidate met the requirement on this BDI to receive a 5 on the BARS model for this question.
For the Teamwork question I assigned a rating of 5 for the candidate’s response. To receive a 5 on BARS for this BDI a candidate needed to demonstrate some initiative while in the team environment, and actively engage with other members on the project on a regular basis as well as be able to make decisions in a group and by their own. A candidate needed to demonstrate their willingness to participate within the team dynamic, and the ability to seek feedback and provide feedback when needed. If any conflict arose, the candidate would need to show objectivity to the team to resolve the issue. In the example the candidate talked about, she worked actively and closely with a team from other departments to decorate and throw a party at the office. She actively sought feedback when it was needed and made a valuable contribution to the success of the project. The candidate met the requirement on this BDI to receive a 5 on the BARS model for this question.
For the Planning and Organizing question I assigned a rating of 5 for the candidate’s response. To receive a 5 on BARS for this BDI a candidate need to have strong software skills and the ability to utilize an organizing software efficiently and effectively to coordinate the schedule of their manager, and all the other managers in the organization. The candidate also needed to show initiative in finding time-savings in their everyday activities and the ability to maximize their time. The candidate demonstrated the ability to manage her tasks on an old system and showed initiative to work with the other assistants to utilize new scheduling software to better coordinate the movements of the managers in the company, freeing up time for all the assistants to focus on other important tasks during their day-to-day. The candidate met the requirement on this BDI to receive a 5 on the BARS model for this question.
For the Problem-Solving question I assigned a rating of 3 for the candidate’s response. To receive a 5, a candidate needed to walk me through the basic problem solving steps of identifying the problem, listing all possible choices, weighing the pros and cons of each choice, and selecting the best option, and committing to that decision. The candidate was to demonstrate how they sought support when they needed it and that they look back on their decision in the future to evaluate it from time to time. The candidate in this interview certainly researched various suppliers that the company did use, displayed the advantages and disadvantages of having new suppliers, and stuck with her decision when she made it, but there was a little hesitancy with her confidence on going over the managers head to her supervisor to get the solution implemented. I also would have preferred she used different, separate example but this was all she could think of and we were on a time constraint. She did, however, demonstrate that she looked back on her decision and learned other possibilities that she could do in the future if a situation similar to this arises in the future. The candidate exceeded the requirement on this BDI to receive a 3 on the BARS model for this question, but came up short to meet the 5, and as such I have given her a 4 on the BARS model.
For the two initial questions I asked the candidate regarding what she knew about Wilson Brothers and how her education and experience related to the requirements of the position, a BARS could not be created for these responses as these were warm up questions. However, her responses were satisfactory as she knew the basics about the company, our culture, and the services we provide. Her education and experience would make her an asset to an Administrative Assistant position with a two year college diploma from Seneca College, as well as one year experience in an Administrative Assistant position where she learned and demonstrated proficiency in various computer software applications, assisted with ensuring managers are highly supported, and scheduled are followed up sincerely, ordering supplies for mailing and billing, and general office duties. She was also tasked with setting up meetings, performing follow-up calls on large orders and acting as a go between with management and the clients that Wilson Brothers dealt with frequently.
Overall, the candidate scored a 5 on the BARS for the BDI questions that measured the Continuous Learning and Development, Ethics and Support of Diversity, Communications, Teamwork, and Planning and Organizing competencies. The only competency that she scored below a five was Problem Solving where she received a rating of 4. Out of a possible thirty points from the BDI questions, the candidate scored twenty-eight. The candidate also was located in Brandon and the commute to and from work would have not been an issue, as well as her previous experience in a manufacturing setting was also a major asset. This coupled with her strong background, education and experience that relates to the position I am tempted to offer her one of the entry-level Administration Assistant positions in Wilson Brothers. With her permission, I will be checking her references and if those prove to be positive, I would be extending her an offer to join Wilson Brothers.
Catano, V. M., Wiesner, W. H., ; Hackett, R. D. (2018). Recruitment and selection in Canada (7th Ed.). Toronto: Nelson.
Appendix A: Interview Transcription
Question: What do you know about Wilson Brothers?
Response: Wilson Brothers is a food manufacturing Canadian owned and operated company that has been running since 1960. It now has branches across Canada, Europe and Western US. It has expanded its services to include truck deliveries as well. Wilson Brothers is true to being Canadian and is committed to provide its clients the best products and services through bettering their business practices for both their clients and their employees to ensure a harmonious balance.
Question: How do you feel your education and experience relate to the requirements of the position?
Response: I attended Seneca College and obtained a two-year Office Administration – Executive with honors. The final Semester I chose to partake in the Field Placement course. My placement was at a manufacturing company in Brandon, Manitoba. I worked in the office of the Human resource manager and oversaw the day to day HR jobs. After my semester placement and graduation, I was hired by the same manufacturing company for a one-year contract to cover an employee who was on an extended leave of absence.
During this time I assisted with providing administrative assistance whenever needed, and supported 2 managers, ordered supplies for mailing and billing and general office duties. I was tasked with setting up meeting, follow up calls on large orders and acting as a go between my department and its clients on a daily basis.
Question: This is an extremely fast-paced, growing environment that requires constant changing and continuous improvements on one’s self. Tell me about a time where you needed to learn new information about changing products, products, or procedures and tell me what you did. Where did you go to get your information? What steps did you take? What was the outcome?
Response: During my previous assignment, I was required to know their current policies as well as those in development.
One project I was tasked with was researching software products that would best suit the company’s online presence. I met with the purchasing department and the technical department to see what their current systems were, any issues with them, programs/software versions and budget. During my research for this product I realized the vast number of computer software products and programs out there. So, I had to sit and collect information from several managers in the company to provide me with their requirements before making a final list to present to my manager to choose from. I found this experience very enriching and pursued further opportunities for education and training while at the company, requesting feedback from my manager on a monthly basis.
Question: Interacting with coworkers with different backgrounds, cultures, or beliefs can be challenging at times. Tell me about a challenging time you when you were faced with a person from a different background, culture, or belief system. What were the circumstances? What did you do? How did the situation work out? What did you learn?
Response: During my last assignment, I was tasked to interact with an older gentleman who was the manager of the IT Department. The person who I had replaced did not have the opportunity to work with him, so she had no knowledge of how he interacted with females. The Manager appeared to be from a conservative and very religious background. He avoided and did not like interacting with females and I had a difficult time working with him. Some of the male employees who worked under him stated that it was no fault of my own, but due to his culture. As a result, I researched his culture and tried my best to incorporate what I had learned from the research to my next few meeting with Mr. Singh. I asked my colleagues how to make our interaction more comfortable for both of us and was advised to avoid eye contact and body touching or hand shaking. As a result, I followed the advice and this eased a lot of the tension during the interaction among a few other little changes geared towards his culture and by the end of my contract the manager was actually comfortable with some actual eye contact. From this experience I learned that we live in a multi-cultural society and we need to be able to adapt and interact with our coworkers to ensure a harmonious work environment. To learn about another coworker’s culture to assist in making the workplace easier and to show the coworker that you are willing to meet him halfway, that in return the coworker may be willing to bend a little as well.
Question: Tell me about a time where you had to communicate with another person even when that individual may not have agreed with your perspective. How did you deal with the situation and why? What was the result? What did you learn?
Response: During my last work, there was an older gentleman who was the manager of procurement in a manufacturing company. He was close to retirement and was set on a specific supplier who he dealt with for many years. The supplier was becoming more expensive and more inconsistent with lower qualities provided as I was receiving lots of complaints from clients. I was trying to make a proposal to use another supplier which was not something he liked. He was extremely stubborn and would not accept change of the supplier; which would have also saved the company a fair bit of money. I researched other suppliers and had several quotes for him and he was still not impressed and would only be willing to order his preferred computers. I was unsure of what step I should take and spoke with my Supervisor about the situation. My Supervisor read my report and reviewed the suppliers I had. He was impressed at the quality and the overall price and cost savings for the company. My Supervisor spoke with both the Manager and his Supervisor about the suppliers. The concerned manager was not happy that I went above him which was not my intention. The new supplier list was approved and was updated shortly after the Manager retired. I learned that in business there are people who are loyal to specific companies and no matter what, they will not budge. I also learned that maybe if I tried to get the rest of the department on board with the proposed suppliers list, maybe they could have assisted in swaying the manager to change his mind. If I had done this, and not have gone to my Supervisor, things may have had a different outcome where the Manager could have been more receptive to change and not to have been forced by his and my Supervisor.
Question: Describe to me a time where you had to work as a member of a team to achieve an important goal. What was the goal or objective? What was your role? What did you do and why? How did it contribute to the overall project? What was the end result? Would you do the same thing again?
Response: During my previous work I was given the opportunity to work with the department/group that was given the task to choose a location for new office space for the company. The Goal of the project was to choose the best location, office design and construction along with ordering the desks, storage and other office equipment and make it ready for use. My role was to be part of the team to decorate the office space for a party we were throwing at the company. I worked with a team selected from all departments and I was the representative from my department. I was assignment to pick the materials needed for decoration and had to seek everyone else’s approval of the material. This project I was tasked with researching the best and most representing products, such as banners, plates and lighting to name a few. The end result was that everyone was impressed with the decorations and all the team had a say in it as it was all team work with my support. This was a new learning experience for me and I enjoyed the opportunity to be included in this project. I would like the opportunity to be able to participate in assisting in more projects like this. It was a very rewarding experience.
Question: One of the most important competencies of an Administrative Assistant is the ability to effectively plan, prioritize and organize several tasks on a daily basis. Describe to me a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time? How did you handle it? How did you organize and schedule the tasks? What tools did you use? How did they help? What was the result?
Response: While on my last assignment among my responsibilities was to keep track of several manager’s schedule and assist them with meetings and liaise with other Administrative Assistants for other staff to ensure that we all kept meeting and project due dates up to date. With this and various research projects it kept me on my toes. At times this was difficult as the software program for keeping meetings updated was not current program. If another Administrative Assistance did not have their boss’s schedule current it made keeping track of events tough. All the Administrative Assistants chose to catch up/meet with each other daily to go over schedules to ensure accuracy. We proposed a better program to assist with this, it was approved and implemented. This program was installed on the server and we could change appointments which would be instantaneously switched for all Administrative Assistants to see. This made appointment and meeting planning easier to schedule as you could see each staff schedule on the program well in advance. This freed up time for us; Administrative Assistants to ensure our other tasks/projects received the attention they required. This program was a great tool for time management.
Question: Good problem solving often requires reviewing the facts and weighing all possible options before making a decision. Give me an example of a time where you reached a decision by a review of the facts and weighing of the options. What option did you choose? Were you satisfied with your decision? Would you do the same thing again? Why or why not?
Response: I am going to revert back to my answer about the supplier’s dilemma with one of my previous managers. During that time I had to make a decision to weigh the benefits of having new suppliers and actually researched new suppliers with better quotations. I did the research and created a proposal which would better assist the procurement department and save the company money. I delivered the proposal and submitted it to the concerned manager along with a list of all the available suppliers. I was happy with my research and cost saving and felt that it was the best options for the company.
The manager refused the proposal and I was a bit surprised with his response and was unsure of the next step. I did speak with my Supervisor; who spoke with the manufacturing manager’s Supervisor and the proposal was approved. The concerned Manager was not happy with me going over his head. This was definitely not my intention and I felt bad for this. I think that another option as I said would have been to provide the rest of the manufacturing department the opportunity say their opinion after throwing a presentation with all the facts. If they approved maybe they could have swayed the manager to be more receptive to the suppliers list. I learned that even if I feel I have exhausted all my options, I still need to review them again and see if there is any other possible option.