The Gal from Queens Speaks Again

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman in need of office support must be in want of an assistant.

Which is why, just a fortnight ago, I  had the pleasure of interviewing several college students for an assistant position in my department. Why college students? Because, as fortune would have it, my place of business is situated on a university campus, so the hiring of students, as some might be inclined to say, is an easy-peasy thing to do.  Indeed, I would even venture to add, it is a win-win!  For the students acquire much needed experience and the employer gets the aid of some very capable, bright young people, who are eager to learn and do great work. For many of them, this is their first real office job.

But sometimes you have to pick through a lot of clams to find the pearl. And the best way to do this is in the job interview.

Now friends, I’m sure you remember the commencement speech I gave right here during graduation season—all because no university would contact me to speak at their ceremonies, thank you very much. In it, I gave the Class of 2011 some very sound advice—and without charging the $30,000 or so that Snookie commands when she speaks at Rutger’s University. My advice was so stellar that I’m sure any young graduate who followed it to the “T” is now on the career path to CEO.  The CEO’s assistant, that is.

So, just in time for Labor Day and students heading back to school—and in search of part-time jobs that will help them offset the cost of higher learning—I have a few words of wisdom to impart.  The advice I’m about to give will be helpful to you now and even later when you’re looking for a full-time job. Trust me, after 30 odd years in the workforce, I know a thing or two about what employers are looking for from an assistant. As such, here are some basic rules to consider when, thanks to good fortune, you score a job interview.

Just like your mother said, first impressions do count!  Which is why I implore you, on behalf of employers everywhere, do not wear anything sexy or revealing. After all, it is a job interview, not a night out clubbing.  So unless you’re interviewing for a job in a bar or as a pole dancer, I do not want to see your naval or your new tattoos. Dress as if you’re meeting Grandma Betsy for tea. Tastefully and conservatively.

Know the company before you go for your interview. Think about it. Who goes into Macy’s or the Apple store and asks, “So, what is it you do here?” Visit their web site. What is their mission? What are their goals? What do they sell or what services do they provide? You want to know this before the interview.

If your cell phone rings, please refrain from taking the call during the interview. Even if it is Aunt Zelda wanting to know if you’ll be bringing your famous crème brûlée over for Sunday dinner.  Same goes for texting.  Keep your thumbs in check and don’t text! Unless, you’re absolutely positive you don’t want the job. Best to play it safe and turn off the phone before you arrive.

Know how to pronounce the name of the company.  If their name is an acronym (FBI, IBM or AT&T, for example) practice pronouncing each letter, in the proper order, a few times before the interview so that you don’t jumble the letters during the interview.

If you’re asked, “Why do you want this job?” do not respond by saying any of the following:

  • Because I need the work.
  • Because my last job was stressful and busy, but here, you don’t look so busy.
  • I’m looking for a situation where I can do my homework.
  • Because it’ll look good on my resume.

Call it selfish, but these responses do not make me want to hire you.  So, instead, talk about what you can offer the company.  How your skills will help the company reach its goals.  In other words, they don’t want to know what’s in it for you; they want to know what’s in it for them!

So the gal from Queens has spoken. Stick with these suggestions and you’ll be well on your way to the part-time job of your dreams—whether it’s flipping burgers, or answering phones.  In no time at all, you’ll be raking in the big bucks hand over fist! (And by big bucks I mean minimum wage or thereabouts.)

So go get ‘em!