The Disappearing Interviewee
One of my client's asked me to do some initial telephone interviews, I've done both face to face and telephone interviews before, as a candidate and also as a potential employer & I am used to people not answering their phones, rude but we know people don't attend in-person interviews, so what hope is their for a phone call. (Note to self do not test your new headset when you are trying to do interviews)!
I've also had people after I outline the role requirements tell me the job is not for them and that is fine. In my opinion it shows courage & honesty. But never have I started an interview and have someone cut me off when I ask them to expand on an answer. We all know that phones can do this but when you try to call them back twice and message them, that is plain rude. Their research on the client was poor at best and overwhelmingly diabolical at best, they told me all about the client, but it wasn't the same client that I recognised!
Everyone I spoke to was stunningly shocked by this. I gave the candidate a couple of hours to come back to me, but nothing. This was through a well known employment website. I gave the website feedback, but not the candidate, as I decided that I would not waste any more of the client's time or money.
My advice to the young candidate is be honest, people will think far more of you if you tell the truth, if you are struggling please ask for time to restructure your answer. As a person and interviewer I am not trying to trip you up. I want you to succeed and please do go and get yourself some interview practice. Also do your research thoroughly.
Back to the drawing board for both of us then! If you are desperate to work in this field please revise your attitude and manners, it may only be an initial telephone interview but you need to treat it like any other interview and more so as other things like body language are absent and you need to create even more of a positive impression. My client's response after they stopped laughing at my indignant response was we had a lucky escape!
The case of the Disappearing Fire Blanket!
Most tenants would be happy to have a responsible Landlord, who put a fire blanket in the kitchen of their shared apartment. Not this one, numerous emails from the tenant complaining it didn't look aesthetically pleasing and the removal of it from its' designated place! Really I am not joking and of course the wasted hours spent explaining why it needed to be there and then having to physically send a member of the team to the property to check it was where it should be.
In the end having been on holiday and returning over 2 weeks later to find it was still a problem, I wrote to the tenant formally on behalf of the Landlord advising them they would be liable for any damage, caused by fire due to the removal of the fire blanket. I then receive an email from the tenant saying it is where it should be, which was strange as the Maintenance Manager was there at the time and couldn't see the fire blanket .
The outcome of the tenant's behaviour - weekly checks (even though they aren't mandatory and photos to confirm it is where it should be.
It's a fire blanket it doesn't matter what it looks like, it could save your life!!
Managing Tenant Expectations
As I specialise in property managing tenant expectations is a large part of the roles I have previously undertaken and to do this day do.
Often what people want and demand are totally unrelated to reality and what they can realistically expect. As a tenant while you would love your Property Manager to act as a Fairy Godmother, when the heating breaks down in the middle of winter during a very cold spell, you are unlikely to get a heating engineer out that day, whether you are a homeowner or a tenant.
I know of Property Managers who have been called at 1 am in the morning because one of the other tenants has had a drink.
My personal favourite this year is the tenant demanding we buy them new socks because the washing machine door has jammed and their socks are stuck in it and they haven't budgeted to buy socks. They were advised to visit the local supermarket (just 5 minutes walk)!
Along with the what ifs in life. I have responded to all of these this year as a VA. The fact people think you are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is incredible. As a team leader for one of my client's I regularly remind the team I don't expect them to respond to things late at night, for their own sake, as it creates a precedent.
I have actually had to block tenants from my phone, so that they ring the office, as what they deem urgent on a Sunday afternoon or at 10 pm at night is not necessarily urgent. On more than one occasion I have had my weekend disturbed while trying to spend time with my family. There are times when my daughter has threatened to throw my phone in the nearest lake/ river. More recently while sat at an airport I received an email from a tenant, that was the impetus I needed to delete the inbox and add it onto my phone when I returned from holiday.
If you are a tenant, and I am, please consider what you do and when you need to contact your Landlord/ Property Manager/ Letting Agency. Everyone is entitled to their time off.
Like all jobs there are ups & downs, funny things and also things that make you reflective.
These are all based on true stories, identifying features have been removed. These are shared with you as tongue in cheek instances collected over a period of time.
After a career in Nursing and a period living abroad I secured a job as a telemarketer. To be honest telemarketing was not for me long term, but by chance I found a job working from home, term time only and surprisingly I discovered I wasn't too bad at it (sometimes)! However, since that time I have revised my opinion. Just to confirm I was never the irritating person who called you as you sat down to dinner or were trying to put your children to bed. Personally I can't think of anything worse! I worked in the B2B sector. There were projects I loved and projects not so much so, one project that gave me nightmares and kept me up at night and reduced me to tears.
This is the main reason I became a VA as I believed I was better suited to organising and admin, rather than sales. As someone with a dry sense of humour certain instances have remained with me and still make me laugh when I recall them, although at the time laughter wasn't always my reaction. So sit back and share some of my stories over the next few months.
We all juggle in our lives, but how do you manage when the unexpected occurs in your business? I don't mean technical issues, but personal issues.
As a Virtual Assistant, I pride myself on my time management skills and organisation. I always meet my deadlines, whether self-imposed or set by the client. The majority of my work is time sensitive and requires rapid responses.
This week I had my work plan sorted, or so I thought. What I hadn't factored into the equation was my teenage daughter coming home from school very unwell. Usually, we get on with it - go to the chemist or the GP, but unfortunately on this occasion she needed to go to A&E. Three visits later, she is finally on the mend, I am a little greyer and certainly we are both exhausted. As a mum, the priority is always my daughter. My clients were understanding and all of them have checked back to see how everything worked out.
While sitting in A&E it made me think about what I need to do when I can't work. I have never been a fan of having work emails on my phone, but I did have enough time to add them, just in case I needed to work or notify my clients.
For the first time ever, I was unable to meet a deadline - to write an editorial for one of my clients. However, I was able to email him and explain why. I promised to get it to him by the following lunchtime and made the deadline with four minutes to spare!
Do you have a contingency plan?
Is there someone you can hand over to in an emergency?
Mine is in my head, although admittedly that relies on memory and being able to do it myself.
One of my clients has gone further - she has a written plan (locked away securely) in the event that she is incapacitated or worst case scenario dies. It involves details for her family of who to contact regarding her business. As her VA I am one of the two people she has identified and then we will take care of the business side - notifying clients etc.
We all tend to rely on family, but is it fair when your family are stressed to expect them to deal effectively with your business? Perhaps like a will, where we identify executors, we need to identify business executors to notify our clients in the event we are unable to work, and lodge the plan with them so they can follow our instructions. Obviously, there are GDPR implications, but storing it in a secure electronic format can overcome these.
I am a small business Virtual Assistant and run my business freeing people up to do what they do best, while loving the paperwork you hate!