Skills assessment testing during job interviews for administrative assistants and executive assistants is not unusual. But it’s sometimes stressful for the admin interviewee. How do you prepare for one? What if you think you blew it? Does that mean you’ve lost all chances of getting your dream administrative professional job? Our expert addresses these concerns further below.
Skills Assessments for Administrative Professional Job Candidates — What Does Pass or Fail Really Mean?
QUESTION: I have a few questions related to skills assessments:
♦ Why do employers conduct these tests during job interviews?
♦ How can I prepare?
♦ If I get called back after an interview to take a skills assessment, is this considered a good sign?
♦ How much will my results affect my chances of getting the job?
ANSWER (by Diane Domeyer of OfficeTeam): Skills assessments are performed to gain insight not available during an employment interview. They give employers a chance to confirm you have the abilities you claim and verify the depth of your knowledge. Common skills assessment tests for administrative professionals include software applications (such as Microsoft Word or Excel), typing speed, transcription speed, spelling and proofreading. Software evaluations usually go beyond the basics and require you to perform complex tasks. For instance, a PowerPoint assessment might ask you to demonstrate advanced expertise by including custom animations, sounds and graphics on slides.
You can prepare for skills assessments by taking another look at the job listing. A company that emphasizes certain skills, such as knowledge of Microsoft Office, Oracle or Crystal Reports, is likely to focus testing in those areas. If you are applying for a position through a staffing firm, you will most likely be required to complete skills assessments in a variety of areas so your representative can best gauge in which functions you are strongest.
When the hiring manager calls to set up an interview, you might ask if testing will be conducted at the meeting. This information will not only help you prepare, but it also can tell you to allot more time for your visit to the company. If you will be evaluated with a particular application, practice using both common and little-used functions or review a user guide to jog your memory. If typing or transcription speed is the focus, doing repeated drills can be useful. Keep in mind, though, that now isn’t the time to learn a skill from scratch.
If a hiring manager calls you back for an assessment after an initial interview, you’ve made a positive impression. Any time an employer seeks additional information about your qualifications, you’re at an advantage because you have another opportunity to demonstrate that you are the best person for the job.
While skills assessments do play a role in the hiring decision, they are just one of many factors hiring managers consider when evaluating prospective employees. Middle-of-the-road test results will not put you out of the running, nor will above-average results guarantee you the job. Today’s employers seek administrative professionals who possess not just solid technical expertise but also a flexible mindset, interpersonal skills and enthusiasm — qualities that can’t be graded through testing. If you can demonstrate that you have the complete package through both assessments and interviews, you will be a strong contender.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diane Domeyer is executive director of OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.