Being called for an interview means you are one step closer to getting hired. Taking time to prepare can help you make the most of this opportunity. This article will walk you through the most common administrative assistant interview questions and answers.
It will also teach you what skills you need to highlight on your resume and where to find job openings, as well as give you some of our top tips so you can ace your next interview.
What Is an Administrative Assistant?
An administrative assistant is responsible for providing support to other employees and guests at a company. They perform clerical and organizational tasks to ensure that interactions between professionals within the organization are effective and things are running smoothly. This means that everyone in the team can focus on their major tasks and be productive.
Answers to the Most Common Administrative Assistant Interview Questions
Every interview session has a unique set of questions. However, there are common job interview questions that help interviewers fully understand the candidate, their technical and soft skills, and their level of expertise. We’ve broken these down into general, technical, and behavioral questions. We’ve also provided sample answers to help ease the interview process.
Top 5 Technical Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and Answers
Technical questions are specific to your administrative assistant role. They typically include brain teasers, numerical reasoning questions, and logic tests to show prospective employers how you think. They are also mostly related to the services or products offered by the company.
How Do You Think an Administrative Assistant Can Contribute to This Company?
The purpose of this question is for the interviewer to understand your perception of how you can contribute to the company. The interviewer already knows the answer to this. It is an opportunity for them to see if you fully understand your role as an administrative assistant.
The best way to offer a good answer to this question is to do some research on the company during your interview prep and make sure you understand the purpose of your role in the company. You should also read the job description thoroughly to make sure you know why they need you.
A sample answer to this question is, “As an administrative assistant, I ensure that executives can focus on important tasks by providing support to them. This support includes receiving and making calls, scheduling appointments, and responding to emails. I want to make sure that office communication is clear and that there is no confusion.”
What Administrative Software and Tools Do You Have Experience With?
With this question, the interviewer wants to know about your level of expertise and see how you can positively impact the company. However, you shouldn’t make recommendations at this stage, as you are yet to fully understand how the company operates and what works best for them.
To answer this question, you should mention tools that you are familiar with and can use efficiently, and talk about the benefits of each one. For instance, you can say, “At my previous job, we used a lot of project management and productivity tools like Asana and Trello. I also have experience with scheduling tools like Calendly, Google Calendar, and Expensify.”
What Computer Skills Do You Have?
This is a straightforward question that the interviewer is using to see what computer experience and skills you have. The interviewer will need your answer to be direct, clear, and include only the information requested.
Your answer could be similar to this: “I am proficient in word processing, organizational, presentation, and promotional tools. I have experience using Microsoft Office Suite, Google Drive, LibreOffice, ClickUp, Powerpoint, and Canva.”
Tell Me About a Time You Had to Work on a Complex Project and How You Handled It.
With this question, the interviewer is trying to test your project management, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. To answer this question, you should choose an example that is similar to a project the company is likely to have. That way, they will see your expertise in their field and be more convinced to hire you.
An answer could be, “I was given a task that required me to send personalized emails to several of the company’s clients in a short period of time. I needed to make a list of the clients and then determine what kind of personalized emails they should receive. My time management skills came into play here, as I had to find out each client’s time zone and work within those boundaries.”
How Do You Prioritize Your Work?
The purpose of this question is to gauge your time management skills and see if you can work within specific timeframes. When answering this question, you need to demonstrate that you are good with meeting deadlines and you do not take your tasks for granted.
You can say, “Every day, I make a list of all my tasks and arrange them in order of importance. This way, I know where to start and what can wait. I set a timer for myself to complete each task based on their priority as well as the deadline. When I notice that I am unable to complete certain tasks or am feeling overwhelmed, I meet with my supervisor so we can find a balance.”
Top 5 Behavioral Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and Answers
A behavioral interview question focuses on how you deal with unexpected situations and your work ethics, personality traits, and abilities. They will include scenarios that may arise in the role for which you are applying. The interviewer is curious to see how you would react in similar situations.
How Do You Set Goals?
This question helps the interviewer know how you make plans and set priorities. To answer this, you need to discuss an ambitious goal that you previously set and how you achieved it.
A sample answer is, “Within a few weeks of taking up a job with my previous employer, I noticed that customer satisfaction was not at 100 percent. So, I wanted to resolve all customer complaints as soon as possible. I started by replying to pending messages and returning calls. When there was a situation beyond my control, I talked to the involved employee, and contacted the customer to resolve the issue.”
Tell Me About How You Handled a Situation When You Were Overwhelmed With Work.
This is a common question that tests your ability to work under pressure. To answer this, you need to share an instance where you managed a high-pressure task successfully. You can also include mistakes you made and how you’ve improved since then.
An example is, “My supervisor assigned several projects with a very tight deadline. I agreed to do the work because the clients were high-profile. However, I realized later on that I couldn’t meet the deadline. I postponed other pending tasks to complete the work by the deadline. I now know how to better assess my workload.”
Tell Me About a Time When You Made a Mistake and How You Handled It
Everyone makes mistakes. The interviewer knows this and is not expecting you to say you always perform perfectly. Instead, they want to see how you handle mistakes. To answer this, you have to let them know you took full responsibility for your mistake, corrected it, and took steps to avoid repeating the situation.
For example, “I emailed the wrong information to three clients when sending out quotes and didn’t realize it until the clients called to complain. I apologized and accepted full responsibility before reassuring the clients and sending the correct quotes. This taught me to carefully review all emails before and after sending them.”
Tell Me About a Time You Had a Conflict with a Colleague and How You Resolved It.
Every organization is filled with people with different personalities and it is normal to have occasional conflicts with some of your colleagues. The hiring manager is interested in your interpersonal skills. The best way to answer this is to give a specific strategy that you used to solve the problem.
For instance, you can say, “I had a direct supervisor who always tightened deadlines or assigned completely different tasks without notice. We had problems working together, but I was determined to overcome this. I approached him directly but he was not interested in hearing my concerns. I brought the issue to a manager, who assisted us in reaching a compromise and resolving the conflict.”
What Is Your Greatest Professional Accomplishment?
This question helps the interviewer see how well you understand your strengths and weaknesses. The appropriate response for this question is to describe a strength that is relevant to the role.
For instance, “My greatest professional accomplishment to date has been being named employee of the month three times in a row at my previous job. I was proud of this achievement, and it motivated me to work more efficiently because I knew my hard work was being recognized.”
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Top 5 General Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and Answers
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and interviewers are well aware of this. This is why they usually start with general questions. These are used to help break the ice and give you the chance to feel calm and confident, while also giving you a chance to describe your previous position. Some of the most common general interview questions are listed below.
Why Are You Interested in This Role?
The purpose of this question is to evaluate your enthusiasm for the job. It is one of the most common general questions. To answer this, you need to show the interviewer that you are interested in this role and this company specifically, and let them know what motivated you to apply for this assistant position.
You should focus on the position, discuss the opportunities you see with the company, and show some confidence. You should also avoid speaking negatively about your previous job and be optimistic about the opportunity in front of you.
An example is, “I enjoy my job with my current employer. However, I am looking for an opportunity to improve my skills. I also want a job that aligns with my career goals and offers an opportunity for growth. The first thing that drew my attention to this position is seeing how your employees grow with you. I am confident that my technical and soft skills will be beneficial to the company.”
What Administrative Assistant Skills Do You Have That Could Help Improve the Company?
To answer this question, you should research what key skills are relevant to the role before the interview and make a list of the ones that make you stand out.
For instance, “I can resolve customer complaints because I enjoy working with and assisting people. I pay close attention to detail to avoid errors when sending emails, invoices, or newsletters. I’ve always been a good communicator and problem solver, which makes it easy for customers to trust me when we interact.”
What Do You Enjoy About Being an Administrative Assistant?
Interviewers ask this question to know what you like about your job and how much you enjoy it. Enjoying what you do makes you more productive and efficient. To answer this, you should mention one or two things you enjoy about being an administrative assistant and, if possible, share your previous relevant experience as evidence.
An example is, “What I enjoy most about being an administrative assistant is the wide range of everyday tasks. I could be following up on customer complaints today and organizing an event tomorrow. I also enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get when I meet a tight deadline and having a boss who sees and appreciates my efforts.”
Tell Me About a Typical Day as an Administrative Assistant
The purpose of this question is to see if you are currently working or have worked on tasks that are similar to what the job requires. By showing that you have fulfilled similar roles, your potential employers know that you are skilled and will be easy to train. To answer this, stick to tasks that are directly mentioned in the job description.
For example “I start each day by going through my emails and responding as needed. I create a to-do list and organize each task in order of priority. I spend most of my morning on high-priority tasks, as this is the time of day when I’m most productive. I then tend to other employees’ needs and move to sending invoices and scheduling meetings. Working like this ensures that I can complete my daily tasks efficiently.”
What Is Your Preferred Type of Office Environment?
Not all offices are created equal. This question helps the interviewer make sure you will be the right fit for their particular office environment. You should do research on the company and how they operate and design your answer accordingly. Be honest with your answer and make sure you will be comfortable with the company’s particular office environment in the long term.
You can say, “After researching your company, I have noticed that you operate in a collaborative environment that promotes collective and individual growth. You also encourage a healthy work-life balance and employee diversity. This is my ideal type of work environment, as I enjoy working collaboratively and individually. I also appreciate the ability to grow personally and professionally while working with people from diverse backgrounds.”
Tips to Prepare for an Administrative Assistant Interview
1. Research the Company
The most important tip for preparing for a job interview is to do thorough research on the company. You should be familiar with what they do, how they operate, and their objectives, mission, and vision. This will help you determine whether you’d be a good fit and help you answer questions specific to the company.
2. Understand the Job Description
It is important for you to understand the job description properly. You should know the skills they are looking for, the level of experience and expertise required for the role, and the duties and responsibilities you’ll be taking on. This way, you can anticipate certain questions and be prepared for them. It will also help you plan questions for the interviewer.
3. Practice Your Answers
Practicing alone, with a friend, or with interview practice tools can help you gain confidence and be comfortable with questions before the big day. You should research common interview questions for administrative positions and plan out your answers. This will help you be more relaxed and boost your self-confidence.
What Skills Should I Put on My Administrative Assistant Resume?
When you apply for a job as an administrative assistant, make sure you highlight the skills that are essential to the position and that will help you stand out from other applicants. Written and verbal communication skills are essential to this role.
In addition, you will need excellent time management and organizational skills to keep track of your varied responsibilities. Recruiters will focus on candidates equipped with software and computer skills to help them fulfill their duties.
As an administrative assistant, you must have strong written and verbal communication skills as your job requires you to work with people regularly. You should be able to get a message across and write down information easily. You may also be required to send reports, emails, letters, and feedback, which requires excellent writing skills.
You should be able to communicate verbally with coworkers, superiors, and clients effectively, and be able to contribute in conversations and meetings. This involves listening and understanding the message being conveyed, as well as knowing the appropriate tone for each situation.
It is important to be organized as an administrative assistant, as the job requires managing a lot of tasks and information simultaneously. You should be able to schedule meetings and appointments, plan events, organize trips, and keep calendars updated. You should also be able to manage files, both physically and digitally, as you will be storing and retrieving files frequently.
In addition, office management and task delegation are important for this role. You should be able to multitask and prioritize tasks depending on your company’s needs. Knowing how to remain calm and collected in high-pressure situations will also go a long way in this field.
Time Management Skills
As an administrative assistant, you should learn how to manage your time because you will be dealing with a lot of tasks and deadlines every day. Workplace efficiency begins with you, which makes time management a top priority. You should be able to complete all your tasks at specific times and plan for impromptu work.
This is important because you will handle the scheduling of appointments, taking calls, and planning events and travels. A mistake on your end can cause a series of problems for yourself and others. With strong time management skills, you will be able to meet deadlines, remain punctual, and stay productive even under unforeseen circumstances.
How to Find Administrative Assistant Jobs
There are various resources you can use to find work as an administrative assistant, including specific and general job sites, online marketplaces, professional applications, and industry communities and events. Below are some options that you can explore.
General job sites post vacancies in several industries, companies, and roles, while specific job sites are designed for roles in a particular field. Some examples of general websites include Indeed, LinkedIn, Upwork, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and BetterTeam. There are currently no specific job sites for administrative assistant roles.
Every industry has a community for professionals in the field and the administrative assistant industry is no different. One such community in the United States is the American Society of Administrative Professionals. They provide resources, role-specific job training, and a space for administrative professionals to navigate and advance their careers.
You can also use the numerous search engines to your advantage by searching for specific roles in your desired industry and location. You can find companies in that industry and see their websites for possible job vacancies. Some examples of search engines you can utilize include Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and Ask.com.
Administrative Assistant Interview Questions FAQ
To prepare for an administrative assistant interview, you should thoroughly research the company, read and understand the job description, and have a mock interview to boost your confidence.
The top three skills of an administrative assistant include communication skills, organizational skills, and time management skills.
An administrative assistant should know Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, Dropbox, Zoom, Slack, Calendly, Asana, pgAdmin, and FileZilla. Many other software tools may come in handy, but it will depend on the specific industry you are interested in.
To answer the question ‘tell me about yourself,’ you should mention your educational qualifications, job experience, and skills. An example is, “I am a business administration graduate and I have been working as an administrative assistant for five years. I currently work at a non-profit organization with the HR department and I handle scheduling, meetings, and planning for my superiors. I also handle reports and presentations for my other co-workers.”
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