This post provides exhaustive information you need to succeed in an administrative assistant interview, including common questions you may be asked at the interview and good answers that you can provide.
Please, read on:
Who is an Administrative Assistant?
Good question. To help us get a clear picture to this question, let’s imagine an office setup.
A certain person runs around the office answering phone calls, making the occasional coffee, and running errands for the CEO.
That set up is the traditional way of the administrative assistant, but these days the administrative assistant is the eye and ear and the right hand of the CEOs.
Administrative assistants coordinate calendars, schedule meetings, and manage basic office needs, and act as go between for the CEO and other sectional departmental heads within a company.
Basically, administrative assistants also perform the odd task of preparing coffee and answering calls and emails.
What Do Interviewers Look for in an Administrative Assistant?
Hiring managers are going to be on the lookout for an administrative assistant candidate with a wide range of soft and hard skills.
Valuable Skills for Administrative Assistant Position
Let’s look at the set of hard and soft skills an aspiring administrative assistant needs to possess.
These are learnable skills that one acquires in the course of attending classroom training, apprenticeship, or any other type of learning.
Hard skills are quantifiable because they can be taught and learned.
Here are some hard skills an administrative assistant needs to have:
- Typing skills. Gone are the times when only the typist does the entire typing job in the office, these days the administrative assistant candidate must as a matter of importance know how to type and be good at it as well with little errors.
- Computer operation. This is another hard skill an aspiring administrative assistant must possess under their belt. The computer has made the job easier than it was in time past.
- Data analysis. A good skill to possess by the administrative assistant, who will in time need to get into data analysis. This skill will stand such a candidate out amongst the crowd.
- Advanced bookkeeping. The administrative assistant is sometimes called upon to do the books and keep proper records and ledgers of important files. With this skill, it will be an easy task to accomplish.
- Schedule management. This skill is one of the most important skills for an administrative assistant hoping to succeed on the job. The schedule management skill helps the candidate organize the daily running of the office or department which he/she supervises.
Now let’s take a look at the soft skills that the administrative assistant needs to have going for them.
Soft skills are not learnable skills from the classroom or from an apprentice shop, they are skills that individuals develop over time with real life situations.
Some soft skills the administrative assistant needs to excel in their job include:
- Problem solving. This is the ability of the administrative assistant to solve problems without taking sides or been phased by the kind of project given to him/her to solve by a superior.
- Time management. The ability to use and manage time is of the essence to an administrative assistant. Projects or meetings may be time based; the ability to fuse all without breaking is a skill that an administrative assistance needs to have.
- Handling pressure. If you are not good at this skill, then you can’t get a job in the administrative assistant section, for they live and thrive under pressure. If you can’t handle stress or work pressure, then the administrative assistant role is not yours.
- Leadership. An administrative assistant most times is saddled with heading a team to work on a project. Such must be a good leader of people to make sure the job or project is completed on time and on schedule.
- Decision making. This is a skill that hiring managers look out for during the interview section. This skill comes into play from the moment you decide to apply for the job of an administrative assistant and is further put to the test when you are employed and given tasks that will require your decision alone to carry out certain difficult duties.
You should show that you have the above administrative assistant skills when answering the questions that will be put to you in an interview.
10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers for Administrative Assistant
Getting interviewed by the hiring manager can go bad if you (the candidate) are not well drilled or prepared for the job interview.
Below are 10 common questions and answers hiring managers may likely ask you in an interview for an administrative assistant position:
- Can you tell us more about your administrative experience?
This is a straight question and in answering it you need to be straight and truthful as well. Go straight to the point and tell the manager the tasks you have carried out as an administrative assistant.
You can talk about your experience based on relationships you had with clients, customers, and the likes.
- What makes you feel or think you are good for this job?
Let your answer ooze with confidence and it should be something in this line of thought:
“I should be hired for this job because I have the required experience to excel in it, having been on similar position for 3 years. I achieved this result (clearly define/state your achievements) in my last job, and looking at the description of the job posted, it best suites me. It’s like my last job, which alone gives me the full confidence that I’m good for this job”.
- What is your greatest professional achievement?
To get the desired answer to this question, pick on a past project, say 3 to 4 years back and highlight how you worked hard, and how your abilities were able to get you results.
Tell the hiring manager also what the outcome of your hard work was and the result achieved.
- What interested you about this administrative assistant role?
This is one of the most asked questions in any interview, including for an admin assistant position, and the interviewer expects to hear your reasons for wanting to work with the company.
Your answer should focus on your abilities, giving examples of your past work experience, taking mental note of the job description of the new place you are seeking work, your achievements, tasks, and goals.
- How do you cope with stress or pressure at the work place as an administrative assistant?
This is a down to earth question and needs an honest answer. It will do you no good when you lie?
The truth about this question is that the hiring managers want to know the person they are hiring, if he/she can cope under stress or pressure.
So, go ahead and strike a balance between admitting you get stressed and pressured and clearly stating how you handle the situation. Let your organizational skills, your creative energy, and your ability to prioritize tasks be the front burners to your answer.
- What role does an administrative assistant play in the office?
A hiring manager wants to know how deeply versed you are on the job with this kind of question. Your answer should focus on the commonest job duties of an administrative assistant; tell the hiring manager the importance of the administrative assistant in the office.
- What software/office equipment are you comfortable working with?
You should give a clear cut answer to this question. This will help the hiring manager to see how proficient you are with the software or office equipment you mentioned. It removes the hassle of training and coaching for the software as office equipment. Tell the manager your level of usage and comfort ability in applying even the latest software app and office equipment.
- What management style do you prefer?
This question helps the hiring manager to determine your level of independence within the workplace and gives them a deep insight if their own management style aligns with your job preferences. Be honest in your answer as best as you can; let them know if you prefer a supervisor or not, and the kind of supervisor you prefer working with. Be free to highlight your work ethics and preferences.
- How would you handle a situation where a task was given but without full instructions?
This question falls in line with questions 5 and 7 above because management style and stress are involved here. The question helps the hiring manager to evaluate how you (the candidate) can cope or handle complex issues without full instructions. In giving an answer to the question, highlight your ability to research on the situation on ground and also get further clarification from the person who assigned the task.
- What is the most challenging part of an administrative assistant’s job?
Be careful of this question, as it is meant to show a form of weakness in you. You should give the hiring manager something to chew on, like the time in your past employment where you had to deal with a situation. Give an accurate account of such challenge(s) and how you tackled it (them) successfully.
Sample Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Role
Here are some sample questions you will likely come across if you are taking an interview for an administrative assistant job:
Behavioral Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
Here are a set of behavioral questions an administrative assistant job seeker will likely encounter in an interview:
- Let’s talk about how you handle a challenging situation at your last workplace.
- How do you work under pressure?
- How do you handle conflicts within the office space?
- Mistakes occur, how do you correct such mistakes?
- How do you explain a very complex task given to you to lesser knowledgeable staff?
Case Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
The interview questions below deal with case situations about the admin assistant job:
- How have you changed the administrative assistant position of past company you work with?
- What current trends do you see affecting the administrative assistant role in future?
- What do you enjoy most about admin work?
- Describe your typical day at work.
- Do you have any question bothering your mind to ask?
Competency Based Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
Here are some interview questions based on your competency level as an administrative assistant:
- Which office equipment or software are you comfortable working with?
- How do you handle high volumes of incoming calls and multiple lines?
- What is your typing speed and error rate?
- Do you have any particular tool you like using for time management?
- How do you prioritize your task, any strategies?
Problem Solving Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
The questions on problem solving will help the administrative assistant candidate identify key areas to note for their interview:
- What task was most challenging in your previous employment?
- What is the first step you take when given a large task to manage?
- Can you share a workplace conflict and how you resolved it?
- Describe the most challenging colleague you worked with, and how did you handle such person?
- Describe your most interesting project and why it’s interesting.
Situational Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
This set of questions deal with how you handle office situations as an admin assistant:
- How do you handle working with other people as a team?
- Why did you leave your last employment?
- How did you cope with working with different supervisors, if you’d worked with such before?
- Any tools or office equipment you had liked replaced, and why?
- Do you work well with people?
Communication Skills Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
Some questions on communication skills that you may be asked in an administrative assistant interview include:
- Describe your communication strengths and weakness.
- What tools or equipment do you use to manage your work flow?
- Are you a good listener or talker?
- Describe a situation where you went above and beyond your service for a client or customer.
- How is your communication verbally?
Interpersonal Skills Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
These are questions that test how the candidate interacts with the rest of the staff in an administrative assistant interview session:
- How do you deal with a difficult boss, client, or colleague?
- How is your level of verbal communication?
- How do you deal with a colleague not in league with others?
- Are you a team player?
- Are you emotionally intelligent?
Company Culture Interview Questions for Administrative Assistant Position
These interview questions are meant to find out if the candidate can break or cope with the company:
- What is your preferred work schedule?
- Why apply here and not elsewhere?
- What is the major attraction(s) that made you apply for this job?
- How will you contribute to our company?
- Why did you leave your last job as an administrative assistant?
Administrative Assistant Interview Success Tips
Here are some tips to help you excel in your interview for an administrative assistant job:
- Study the job description well and get a feel of the company’s culture as well.
- Practice all the interview questions on administrative assistant job that have been provided in this article.
- Be ready to sound bold and confident during the interview.
- Be ready to name specific situations, with detailed real descriptions of the events or situation.
- Dress for success and arrive early to the venue so as not to be stressed before the interview begins.
Basically an administrative assistant provides support and help in the running of the office. Having first-hand knowledge of the kind of questions to expect in an administrative assistant interview can help you greatly in preparing for the interview and giving a great performance.