There is no overstating the importance of a good administrative assistant. Anyone who has had one knows how incredibly valuable they are to every aspect of a business. Anyone who has ever been one knows what a demanding role this is.
Whether you’re a seasoned administrative assistant or applying for the job for the very first time, a little preparation can go a long way toward helping you nail that job interview. The following questions are typical in an interview for an administrative assistant.
They might not be exactly the ones you encounter, but preparing answers can help you be mentally ready for your job interview.
The best news is that you’re already doing this. Just by reading this article, studying the questions, and thinking of how you’ll answer, you’re preparing for the interview. At least a part of it. But that’s not all. The following tips can help you be on top of your game by interview time:
In-person or virtual. Knowing how you will be interviewed is critical, but it requires more. If you’re going in to meet the interviewer, you need to be dressed well from head to toe and bring supplemental materials. But virtual interviews take preparation, too.
Hard and soft skills. Going through the questions below will help with your hard skills but are you prepared to highlight your soft skills? These aren’t the skills you put on your resume, but they can be just as important in the interview. Make sure you understand what your soft skills are and then showcase them.
Study the company. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an interview is to learn all you can about the company. Look them up online, check out their website, and look for reviews on websites like Glassdoor.
Practice STAR. The STAR interview method is a way to break down a question with an answer that follows the STAR acronym – Situation, Task, Action, Result. Try to answer questions in that order by setting the stage and explaining the situation, let them know what you were supposed to do and then how you did it and what the results were.
Why do you want the job? It might seem like all the interviewer wants to know is why you’re a good fit for the job. But you should try to explain why you want the job, what it means to you personally.
If you’re looking to showcase your skills, work for a specific person, in a specific industry, or want to advance – whatever the case, explain why it matters to you.
Ask questions. Prepare for the interview by coming up with some great questions to ask the interviewer. You may find you have questions during the interview, or you might be so nervous that you forget them immediately. Don’t rely on your memory -- come prepared with questions to ask. This makes you seem engaged and interested in the job.
You’re ready to dive into the questions and show off your administrative assistant skills. Many of these questions are personal and customized to your experience and desires, but we’ve included a couple of prompts to help. Let’s get started.
Explain your experience(s) as an administrative assistant. If this is a job you’ve had before, answering this question should be a breeze. Just be sure to work on some key tasks that you think will apply to this next job.
If you’re brand new in the administrative assistant field, then it’s time to consider your past experiences and how they will be useful in this position.
Describe what you think the role of an administrative assistant is? You should know this answer cold. You’re the right-hand assistant of someone in the company. Your job is to support their work efforts in any way that you can, and you need to do it with professionalism and the utmost degree of confidentiality.
You can add on to this and customize it to your experiences and the job listing.
Why do you think you’d be the right fit for this job? This is your chance to shine. You better have several good examples of why you’re the best candidate.
Tell us about your greatest professional success, so far. We can’t help you here, it’s up to you to share what makes you most proud of your skills and achievements. If you’re good at this part, you’ll take something that was a job weakness and turn it around into something you overcame and turned into a strength.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it? The tip above can also be used in this situation. But don’t use the same scenario both times. A lot can be learned by how people react to failure, so make sure that your anecdote includes a success story at the end.
What was one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do in a job, and why? You can be honest here. You don’t even have to turn this around into something that makes you look good in the end. They’re looking to see what things you find troubling and if you’re willing, to tell the truth.
What is one of your favorite things to do as an administrative assistant? Not only should you have a few things that you enjoy about your work, but it’s time to let that show. Your face should light up when you talk about the things you love to do. Showing your enthusiasm for your chosen profession means a lot to potential employers.
What technical skills do you have? Excel, Word Perfect, Planning or Scheduling Software, Zoom, Slack, etc. You need to have some hardware and software skills behind you to get this position.
It’s not always about what you know but what you’re willing to learn. Make sure to stress that you are trainable and willing to learn new things. You can even go so far as to acknowledge that things keep changing and so do your skills.
What do you consider your professional “super-power?” Be ready for this one. It’s a very trendy question these days so it’s good to have something in mind in case it comes up.
What type of office environment is best for you? Do you like a busy office with a team or a small, quiet office where you can work independently? Your best bet is to be truthful.
If you love peace and the office is known for being big and collaborative, lying won’t make you happy in the long run. You don’t just want to land the job, you want to land the right job.
What management style do you prefer? Knowing what type of manager you prefer is great, but adding examples to your answer is even better. It shows that you understand your working style.
Why did you leave your last job? This can be a tricky topic. If there are confidential matters involved, you certainly don’t want to elaborate. If you were fired, you might not want to share that either.
If you hated the job – again, not something you want to share. In most situations, it’s best to dance around the question and just let them know you’re looking for a better opportunity.
Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors or managers? Explain how that worked. Your answer is entirely based on your experiences.
Can you tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in and how you handled it? Always paint this picture with you in the best light. Even if it didn’t start that way, stress how you learned from the experience and made things better.
How do you organize and prioritize your work duties? It’s always best to have a method to share. You don’t have to follow a task prioritization method, although it’s great if you do. What you need is to have a system and be able to explain it. Being organized is probably the most important part of being an administrative assistant.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on? It’s good to have something in mind in case this question is asked. Even if you think that you’ve never done anything really exciting, having an answer shows work enthusiasm.
Are there any skills you’d like to work on to be a better administrative assistant? There’s probably a technology that you haven’t quite mastered that fits the bill for this question.
If you’re given a task but not told how to do it, what would you do? What is your approach? Do you try to figure it out yourself? Ask others how to do the job? Or do you go to the person who assigned it to get clarification?
Have you ever managed other people and/or would you be willing to manage others? Many times, being an administrative assistant is the same thing as being an office manager, in which case, you’ll be managing others. Having familiarity with this can help.
Tell me about yourself. This interview question is one of the most frequently asked and it’s probably one of the worst. Your best bet is to stick to talking about your educational and professional background. If you have a hobby that relates to your job or that’s a dynamite talking point, you can mention it – if the audience seems receptive.
Job interviews tend to make people nervous, especially the interviewee. Try to remember that you’re also interviewing the company. You want to find a place where you want to work. You’re looking for the right environment, the right type of work, and the right pay and benefits. You’re not at a disadvantage; you’re on a level playing field.
If this is your first time applying for this type of job, don’t despair. Your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and your desire to have the job can make you a better candidate than someone who’s had the job title for 20 years. Just be confident.