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Heeellllp!! I have a job interview next week, with "administrative test" I have no idea what to expect!

(20 Posts)
desperatenotstupid Thu 01-Mar-12 19:49:13

Is for an administrative post in a university - post grad support and recruitment officer. It will be my first job (if i get it) after a long career break. I have to do an "administrative test" at the interview - does anyone have an idea what it might be? The website was vague and said it could be anything from making a spreadsheet to drafting a letter hmm Anything in word should be fine, but my excel is self taught and basic, ive done the whole graph making thing in the past but not with the newer versions? Has anyone any idea of what 15 minute tasks i might be set so that i can have a bash at doing it before the interview. Of course it might not be excel but that is my weakness - I don't have access experience, and outlook i would have thought would be intuitive, but ive only ever used to send and receive emails. My background is in science (Phd) so assume thats why i shortlisted as its a post-grad support role, i do my husbands admin for building company, so just use excel to do spreadsheets for tax returns but really just a giant list maker really. HEEELLLLLLP!!

boxoftricks Thu 01-Mar-12 20:06:10

in our office (resourcing/HR) you would have to type notes throughout a telephone interview whilst being on the phone, and be able to input data from cv's on to a cv sifting spreadsheet and a few other things.

desperatenotstupid Thu 01-Mar-12 20:10:58

i'd be fine with the first two, and fine with the last once i had sat and got a feel for it, woudlnt take me long, i learn quickly, not sure about in an test situation having not done it before though hmm

desperatenotstupid Thu 01-Mar-12 20:11:28

thanks though, good to know what i may face!!

jumpinghoops Thu 01-Mar-12 20:29:42

I had an interview for very similar admin position in a university recently. The implied that my 20 min admin task would be excel based and I flew into a learn all there was to know about programming formula panic. As it was they asked me to assess a potential applicant's application and fill out a form to indicate all of the info that would form an initial decision on whether they'd be offered a place. I had to indicate any potential issues of which there were a few and then draft an email to them outlining the decision and providing guidance on a way forward. A second task asked me to look through a list of jobs to be done and prioritise them in order- in the interview then I had to explain my decision.

In all honesty it was extremely simple. Will you have responsibility for managing budgets? Could see some excel related stuff coming up there. Do you know anyone that could give you a quick 10 minute tutorial?

I often think common sense and remaining calm can count for a lot in these situations. Having also conducted similar interviews in the past, I think more will go on how you come across in interview than yr IT skills.

Very best of luck!

desperatenotstupid Thu 01-Mar-12 20:38:28

thanks jumping, no budgets i dont think - that is really useful too, thanks smile God i love mumsnet sometimes

anothermadamebutterfly Fri 02-Mar-12 10:12:46

I had a test for a similar-sounding job about a year ago. It was in two parts: first involved working with an excel file containing student data (name, course, marks, etc.), inputting a few missing details, checking the data, and then doing a few tasks such as working out averages and sorting and printing the data according to different criteria (by grade, alphabetically, etc.). Second part was looking through three potential candidates and deciding which was most suitable, and then justifying my choice in the interview.

Second part was fine as it was a mixture of common sense and experience, the first was dreadful as I wasn't prepared for that type of task, and although I had worked with excel I had not used it in exactly that way, and the version on the computers was different to mine so I simply ran out of time.

I had a similar interview about a month later and I spent a bit of time working on brushing up on excel, the test was pretty similar and really easy once you actually knew what you are doing.

I would brush up a bit on excel just in case, and also remember that outlook can be used for other stuff as well as receiving and sending emails - for example, distribution lists, group calenders? Could be worth spending a few hours on (assuming you have nothing better to do...)

Good luck!

Bluestocking Fri 02-Mar-12 10:26:29

Hi desperate, I am university-based and have recruited my fair share of admin support roles - I agree with both posters that they are highly unlikely to require you to do anything very technical! Inputting information from a variety of sources into a spreadsheet is definitely a possible - and you would be AMAZED how many candidates who look fine on paper don't seem to be able to do this. Prioritising some different tasks according to the information you're given about them is one we do sometimes. We also often add a telephone test in the middle of the written assignment, to be sure that the candidate's telephone manner is acceptable. As the role you're going for is customer-facing (that is, you would be dealing with applicants for PG courses, and with actual PG students) they may be very keen to see how you deal with queries. Hope that helps - good luck!

desperatenotstupid Fri 02-Mar-12 17:52:49

Just having a "play" in excel - the charts are a bit hit and miss, how to i specify exactly what data series i want shown where? Its been AGES since i have done that and it seems a bit random hmm

CharlotteBronteSaurus Fri 02-Mar-12 17:55:46

in our (NHS) office, the test included some simple filing in alphabetical order
believe it or not, several candidates failed shock

desperatenotstupid Fri 02-Mar-12 18:43:00

OK, so, now i can make a chart with a couple of data series in it, alter the labels etc etc - work out averages, sums etc, filter A-Z or according to numerical value anything else and im stuffed grin. If someone fancies giving me some data and a task.................

CydCharisse Fri 02-Mar-12 18:49:48

If you are confident in Word, do you know how to do mail merges using a spreadsheet of data? I am always astonished how many people can't use that function, and it's been essential in every role I've had, and others in my offices have struggled because they can't use it. Saves tons of time in the real world too smile (I'm in admin in education setting too).

desperatenotstupid Fri 02-Mar-12 19:16:20

Um, no cyd i don't know how to do that blush Would you mind hinting how i might do it? please?

CydCharisse Fri 02-Mar-12 19:19:53

Of course! What version of Word/Excel are you using? (the newest one is a bit different.)

CydCharisse Fri 02-Mar-12 19:28:02

I'm going to explain the theory (got to make supper in a minute) and hope it works for you.

It's brilliant for stuff like sending letters to a whole bunch of people, creating lists, etc. It works by matching a standard form in Word (like a letter, or label template) to the individual data for people (or things, whatever) in a spreadsheet.

Create an Excel spreadsheet with the data - eg name, address, appointment date. You must have a header row - make the column titles meaningful to you.

Create a Word document that is your letter (or list, or label) which contains all the information that everyone needs to have (instructions on how to get to appointment, for example).

Now hit the button/menu option that says something like mail merge or mail merge helper (depends on your version). Choose your "data source" - the spreadsheet you just created and saved.

You will now have the option to add fields from data (the header row column titles) to the standard letter. Put them in the right places - eg. name and address at the top, appointment time in the text etc).

Now merge the documents - you usually want the option to 'edit individual documents' so that you can check all is well.

Your spreadsheet will magically turn into a whole series of lovely personalised letters.

I have written that v. quickly - hope it makes sense. THe tutorials in Word are good and will cover it. Will come back later to see how you're getting on <strict teacher emoticon>. Good luck!

desperatenotstupid Fri 02-Mar-12 19:42:20

Thanks cyd, that makes perfect sense - i think, so if i have a table with all of those things as headers Name, address, appt time, date for instance, and then add those fields in word, it will just put each individual line in my table in separate letters? I have done some sort of mail merge before where i sent letters out to different estate agents for DP, i dont remember doing it in excel, maybe i did. I too have to go sort dinner/bedtime out but this will be one of the things i try and do before next week. Thanks x

CydCharisse Fri 02-Mar-12 21:13:32

Yes, that's exactly it. It's not difficult really (well I don't think so!) but is impressive in terms of results. You can also set filters and all sorts of cool things for managing more complex, varied data. You seem super quick and confident so you'll get it in no time flat smile

Good luck with your interview/test!

desperatenotstupid Sat 03-Mar-12 09:49:21

CydCharisse Well, i had a go at the mail merge and it seems fairly straighforward. I worked through the mail merge wizzard the first time but then its all there for you in mailings anyway once you insert your list of data - Magic grin!! That was really useful though because that could well be one of the tasks i can imagine, i would have been flummoxed if faced with that on interview day without at least having looked at it beforehand. I managed to make some letters up with address lines, greeting and insert appointment time as you suggested. Took ten minutes. So thanks for that. These things are easy, as you say, once you know how.

Feel much more confident now, will make sure im happy making a simple chart and a mail merge and i think i'll be fine. Stuffed on outlook as ive not been able to set it up on this lap top for some reason hmm

Will now have to get my head round some of the things i might be asked in the interview proper. This job hunting busienss is hard work!!

CydCharisse Sun 04-Mar-12 10:16:32

Really glad that was helpful desperatenotstupid.

I wouldn't worry too much about Outlook. It is all straightforward. The only thing to watch out for in the newest version is that the default in some organisations is for emails to appear as threaded by subject line rather than individual messages, which I found super confusing when I first looked at it (quickly found the option to switch it off!).Apart from that it is just email ...

You sound really well prepared (I ready your other excel thread too!) - very best of luck with it! What day is the interview? Do tell us how it went smile

sandra841 Sat 08-Dec-12 23:35:12

Hello desperatenotstupid, how did u interview go? I've got similar one next week, any clues of what I should expect and any advice. Thanks

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