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Tips for Aspiring Virtual Assistants: Why You Might Not Get Hired after an Interview

rejectedAre you the kind of job hunter who has just come fresh from the graduation ceremony?

It’s been a few weeks since graduation season, have you applied for your dream job yet? Gone on any interview appointments? By this time those students who have graduated are either starting their new jobs, or are in the process of snagging one. You all have now been initiated into the rat race of career and financial stability.

What can set you apart from the others? How can you make a lasting positive impression in an interview? Ultimately, how do you get hired? These are probably some of the questions nagging your mind while job hunting.

What if you have decided not to be one with the crowd this time and would like to try freelancing? This is usually ideal if you are a free spirit who does not want to be tied down to any particular company. But remember that even freelancing gigs will often require you to still go through application and interview. One of the most successful freelancing job nowadays is being a virtual assistant.

I got the idea to write this as I was perusing some old links I keep around to find inspirations for new posts. I came across this very interesting Slideshare post called: Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You. In here, Mark O’Toole – the author, detailed how certain things about ourselves might turn off someone from hiring us. It also talked about what prevents a fresh grad from getting hired.

Mark pointed out that, what goes on in the interview will matter more than what you have placed in your resume. Securing for yourself a job and a career in the long run, the interview is one of the most important part of the process. It is the moment that you rally your cause or to be more exact, the chance to convince a panel or one executive to hire you. You have to prove that you can become a valuable asset to them.

The first time I read Mark O’Toole’s Slideshare post months ago, I found the idea funny and novel. Instead of spoon feeding his readers of what to do to convince people to hire you through your interview, he lists up his reasons why he does not want to hire those who are fresh grads.

He sees them as being too much in a hurry to get where they want, carelessly going in head first without backup plans, and are hung up on their “accomplishments”. This is what I had gathered from his post.

To give you a better view, here are three from the eleven reasons he presented that are his best tips to any fresh grad or even those in between jobs:

Reason #1 – An Over-padded Resume

O’Toole says that most fresh grads seem to believe that they have to pass resumes that are packed with every accomplishment they have ever made. This results in a document resembling a paperback in thickness – too many pages more than that of a professional with 25 years of experience in his belt. This means that, no one needs to know you were the prom queen or the campus crush for three years in a row.

This practice is over-selling yourself before you have even proven anything to them. Any interviewer will think twice in hiring someone who haven’t even begun to show his potential before building himself up to be this over achiever. Plus, it will look like self-absorption caught on paper.

His advice: Make it relevant. Make it concise. Make it focused.

I think what he wants to say here is that balance the accomplishments you write down with the current field or description of the job you are applying for. Be certain that you include only those that are relevant to the job you are applying for or the career you are headed to. Don’t make it too short either, or else you will be seen as a person who lacks the drive and the initiative to succeed.

Put in only the details you can support with good explanation when asked to do so. Use only the facts that you know by heart to be truthful and related to how you want to be seen as a professional. Package yourself as a person who is capable to do any task and willing to learn more, with the ability to excel if given the chance and the time, never as someone who is too focused only on himself.

Reason #2 – Unprepared for the Interview

Botching up your chance by not being able to substantiate what you put on your resume when asked about it during the interview. That or not even knowing what you want to do, making them question if indeed you can do anything for the company. Coming unprepared for your interview appointment is the worst mistake you can make.

His advice: Do research and learn what needs to be known by you.

O’Toole puts importance in knowing the nature of the company’s business, what your job description entails, as well as the nuances of your future employer. All these before you even step foot inside the interview room. Being clueless on important matters that pertains to the business will give any employer the notion that he might have to do the work for you instead of the other way around.

But, be very careful that you don’t ever claim to be capable or be an expert on something that in all reality you are incapable of. Phrase everything properly that they would sound the way you mean them to.

Being knowledgeable about the basics of the business, especially when you come in equipped with your own questions, will show that you are capable of gathering information for yourself. It tells them that you will not wait for others to do the job for you. In short, you are a person with initiative and who knows how to use it. And that given the chance, you will be 100% committed to the company and the work you are expected to do.

Reason #3 – You Are Unaware of the Proper Interview Etiquette

The best description for this will have to be how you dressed for the interview. Although most offices these days opt for the more casual look, this does not in anyway apply for an interview.

His tip: Show up to your interview appointment looking like how you would dress up if your employer asked you to meet a client.

Casual does not cut it for an interview. This is the time you need to look your best, meaning wear a corporate attire. Dress in a way that you convince anyone who looks at you that you are a capable professional who can accomplish what you set out to do.

Secondly, the impression you make to the people who you are applying to does not end when you step out the interview room. Send them a thank you note for the time they have given to listen to you. Also include what you have learned from the experience of interacting with them, especially if you found anything they had said to be of valuable to you. More importantly, do not forget to reiterate how much you are the perfect candidate for the job. Convince them that you have the passion for it.

No matter what job you want to apply to, may it be something modern like a virtual assistant, something as common as a marketing assistant, something snazzy as a fashion stylist, or even something as simple as a sales representative – you will need to go through an interview process. For this reason, how you conduct yourself during this time will matter more than how well you listened in class or how much achievements you have earned. This is not to say that achievements are inconsequential. It is just that your attitude and performance at an interview will most probably come first.


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Angela is a virtual assistant specializing in content writing, social media marketing, and administrative assistance. Follow her on Google+.
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