An office manager position is a mid-to-senior level position within a company that requires experience in administrative roles.
Typically, office managers are responsible for overseeing the office space and systems to ensure both a positive and productive work environment. They don’t usually report to any specific team, but oftentimes work closely with senior leadership teams.
These individuals usually hold onto confidential company information such as important documents, keys for closets, vouchers, company credit cards, and more.
They also tend to manage the overall administrative budget, and must know the answers to all operational and administrative questions that might pop up. They’re an invaluable resource inside any organization.
When looking to hire a competent office manager, it’s important to ask the right questions and search for the right details in the candidate’s answers. This person is the oil that makes the gears of your company run smoothly so there are many considerations that need to be made during the interview process.
Below, we discuss ten of the most essential office manager interview questions to ask to assess administrative and interpersonal soft skills. You will want to find candidates who understand office operations and procedures, although these will vary by office.
They should be able to manage staff, stay organized, understand purchasing procedures, oversee IT issues, maintain budgets, monitor expenses, and possibly even manage calendars and events.
This individual should be a leader and held accountable for all office happenings. They should be able to present essential management skills that you might look for in any other position including motivating their team, handling confidential information, and resolving conflicts within the office.
They may also be customer-facing, so understanding how they handle difficult customers is an important consideration to make as well.
Oftentimes, this individual will be the first face or voice a customer or partner hears when they reach your office. You want to make sure this individual represents your brand and culture well, so they should not only be articulate and professional but dress the part too.
What do you think about the office manager role? How would you view yourself in this company as an office manager? This question is probing for your viewpoint on what office managers should manage and how they should perform within an organization.
Consider taking a look over the job requirements before entering your interview to pull a few key words out for your response to this question.
“An office manager’s main responsibility is to ensure the well-being and efficiency of the office. In this company, I view that as managing a few key areas. First, office machinery management, which includes answering the phones and consistent maintenance on all of our machines, which includes purchasing needed supplies.”
“Second, customer relationships, which means answering the phone and getting individuals at the front desk in a friendly and professional manner. Third is organization, meaning I would be responsible for managing leadership calendars and fixing any other issues that might arise in the office.”
Speaking of organization skills, walk me through how you keep yourself organized as an office manager? Because there are so many moving parts to this job, your interviewee will likely be interested in understanding just how you can maintain that organization for yourself and the rest of the office.
“Organization is something I pride myself on greatly. To maintain order within the office, I’m a fan of shared calendars and spreadsheets that can help me understand requests or issues that might arise across a variety of areas including ordering, conference room scheduling, and more. I live by my calendar alerts and I stay on top of it regularly by setting alarms and reminders.”
What are your biggest strengths and how do they enhance your abilities as an office manager? Office managers must have a variety of skills to be successful in this career, so be sure to be honest about this question and relate your response back to the specifics of the job.
“I believe I have very strong interpersonal skills which are what makes an office manager effective, in my experience. Being able to be both personable while maintaining an air of authority and organization is key to running a smooth office. I’m also a problem solver and enjoy finding solutions to issues that might arise in the workplace.”
What are your “must-have” office management supplies and software? Your interviewer will be looking for the essential tools you need to be successful as well as what type of office management software you are familiar with. Most offices use Microsoft Office or Google Suite software, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with both.
“I’m very familiar with both Microsoft Office as well as Google Suite software. I’m advanced in practically all of the applications, especially Outlook or Gmail, Microsoft Word or Google Docs, and Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. I’ve also used Monday and Asana software for project management.”
Tell me about a situation that incorporated your conflict management skills. Since you will be managing an entire office with a variety of different people and personalities, the interviewer may want to know how you’ll specifically deal with conflict.
Conflict management is an art, so try to use specifics in your answer to this question.
“At my last company, a senior sales manager came into the office and asked to access our supply closet for company swag. However, we had protocols in place that didn’t allow for taking supplies on a whim, as we manage our inventory very closely.”
“I advised him that he must fill out a request form which didn’t seem to please him. However, once I showed him how simple it was on my computer, he pulled it up on his iPad and was able to order on the spot.”
What is your favorite thing about being an office manager? What about your least? This is a very common question asked to interviewees that isn’t always specific to office manager jobs.
The individual asking this question is often looking for the area in which you are looking to improve as well as the area you believe your strengths lie. This plays into team dynamic and management style.
“I love helping people and keeping others organized. I enjoy ensuring everyone has what they need to be successful, be it a conference room for an important meeting, the right kind of notebooks, or a process developed to become more efficient. I sometimes get overwhelmed if things are disorganized or if processes aren’t followed, so I try to make it easy for everyone to understand and follow the rules of the office.”
How do you think about and manage confidential information? Office managers are responsible for managing a variety of confidential information including credit card information, leadership calendars and meetings, client information, and sensitive employee information.
You’ll want to reassure your interviewer that you are a pro at keeping confidential information kept private.
“Confidential information is a huge responsibility that I have tackled in past jobs. I ensure everything is locked properly and that my computer is safely locked down, should anyone access it. I lock all file cabinets and keep the key on my own keyring so I make sure I never leave the office without it. I would never distribute confidential information unless given clear instructions and authorization.”
Are you better at working with a team or as an individual? As an office manager, having a positive and productive teamwork ethic is very important, as is being able to manage yourself.
It’s important to do these two things well, especially working with a team, as there will be a variety of different types of people and personalities in your office.
“I love working with a team and getting to meet and interact with people of all kinds. I enjoy asking questions and understanding what individuals need to succeed in their jobs while understanding their strengths and interests. I am a good delegator and have been known to be firm on process. I also enjoy working on my own and am able to self-manage in terms of prioritization and organization.”
What sets you apart from other office managers? This is an important question to get right as the interviewer is asking specifically what you believe makes you valuable.
This is an opportunity to showcase your unique skills to the interviewer in a way that sets you apart from other candidates. This can be anything from personality traits to certifications you might have received.
“In college, I was the president of my sorority. This allowed me to manage an entire household of young women while maintaining insight of all the happenings in the house, including many responsibilities that are relevant to this position. I pride myself on really being able to not just manage an office efficiently but making individuals feel as though they’re part of something more. I try to make things around the office enjoyable, including scheduling theme days, fun outings, and more.”
Are you considering any other positions at this time? This question might impact how the interviewer feels about you, depending on your response. It’s important that even if you have applied for other jobs, that you make them feel like this is your first choice in terms of dream jobs.
“I’m pursuing a variety of other office manager positions, but working for your company is highest on my list. After learning you were on the top 50 startups to work for in 2021, as well as seeing the CEO featured in Pharmaceutical Executive, I’ve been so impressed by the company’s quick progress. It would be an honor to work with this incredible team.”