Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It is becoming more common to have a pre-interview telephone or emailed questionnaire screening. Here is an example of one which I received. I have abbreviated some responses and changed the name of one organization where I worked.

Management Assistant Qualifications Review:
Please complete the following questions as part of the selection process for the Management Assistant position. Please limit your answers to each question to no more than 500 words.

1. Describe relevant experience, education, training and coursework that prepared you for the position of management assistant. Include any seminars or workshops attended and specify the number of credits and length of time for training courses.
I have a Master of Education degree. My education has been supplemented with coursework (sic, et al). Learning is lifelong and I continuously seek more opportunities to expand my knowledge base.

2. Describe the largest and most important work related project which you have managed. Describe the purpose of the project, your specific role, your duties or responsibilities and outcome of the project.
I coordinated the first Immigrant Women’s Conference while serving as the Assistant Director of the Council of Immigrant Women [pseudonym]. I originated the idea, worked with the staff and board to create a mission with accomplishable goals, procured funding, and assembled a committee to facilitate the conference. We focused on success in the American workplace. I organized our deadlines and made certain that committee members had the resources they needed to accomplish tasks. Over three hundred people attended the event and one third were men. The conference was given a positive review and we organized a series of smaller follow up meetings to help women work on leadership skills. Subsequently, immigrant women have organized several groups to network and support leadership development.

3. Describe your experience and proficiency with various computer software packages including word processing, database and presentation packages. Indicate your level of proficiency from 1 - 5 (i.e. 1= no proficiency; 5 = extremely proficient). Be specific. In addition, provide a specific example of a work product/project and which program(s) were used in the creation/development of the product/project.
Microsoft Suite:
Word, typing speed of 50 with level 5 proficiency
Excel level 4 proficiency
PowerPoint level 5 proficiency
Access level 4 proficiency

4. Describe how you would handle a situation in which the customer is asking for something that is not in the best interest of the organization or would violate some policy of the organization.
When a customer requests something that either does not serve the interest or violates an organizational policy it is important to educate the customer. Respectfully decline their request and explain why. Specifically site the policy or mission statement which would be violated, oftentimes the customer is unaware of the established protocol. However, if the request is a legal violation then it is best to consult with the supervisor for the next steps. Document the request for future reference.

5. In this position you will be required to take direction from various individuals and respond to requests from a variety of sources. Describe how you would prioritize requests and how you would prepare a system to help you answer questions and request information efficiently and effectively. Describe what systems you would develop to provide information quickly.
Prioritization of requests is determined by the goals of the department and in consultation with my supervisor. Clear communication is essential and it is helpful to create a calendar listing deadlines. Frequently Asked Questions informational sheet is an ideal reference source. It will ensure consistency in response to similar questions. Flexibility is key.

6. Describe your approach to providing customer service. Provide an example of a difficult customer service situation you were involved in and the specific steps you took to resolve it.
My approach to customer service focuses on communication. Listening is imperative to understand what the customer is seeking. I have worked in both retail and human service positions and encountered numerous difficult customer service situations. On one occasion a customer was upset because an item broke and they needed an immediate replacement but we did not have any at the store. The sales associate was not amenable and made the customer very agitated. As the Assistant Manager, I calmed the customer and asked if I could contact other stores to see if they had the item in stock. The customer agreed and I called eight of nine stores before I located the item. The customer was delighted and decided to travel directly to the store to procure the replacement. The next week she returned with a thank you note for me.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my responses.
Ima B. Musing

NOTE: Made it past this essay examine. I showed up for the interview to learn that it had been cancelled. The person coordinating the meeting sent an email and didn’t bother to call. I never applied there again.

Still searching after all these years.
Copyright © 2014 by Ima B. Musing; All rights reserved

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