Knowing what administrative assistant interview questions to expect during an interview is crucial if you are seeking a job as an administrative assistant. You can set yourself apart from other candidates by going into the interview fully prepared.
In this post, we will go over some of the more common questions during an administrative assistant interview and advise on how to answer them. We will also share some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself for an administrative assistant interview.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for an administrative assistant role?
You don’t have to worry about lack of experience if you apply to entry- or mid-level administrative assistant positions. Most organizations prefer individuals with strong soft skills rather than years of experience or technical background.
Administrative assistants are invaluable team members in every organization. They are crucial in getting things done efficiently and have contact with many people, clients and processes. As a result, they are uniquely positioned at the company’s core and have valuable insights into how the business functions.
Here is a list of crucial soft skills that interviewers are looking for in a candidate:
As an administrative assistant, you will work with professionals at various levels of the organization. Therefore, it is critical that you can communicate collaboratively and professionally with them.
Interviewers prioritize applicants that show excellent communication skills. They know that an administrative assistant who speaks well can significantly impact the business.
Written communication skills are beneficial when writing letters, speeches, or memos for executives.
Verbal communication skills refer to talking over the phone or speaking physically to someone. Active listening, body language and tone are other critical skills of verbal communication that you need to know.
Organization skill is another core skill required for an administrative assistant role. Administrative assistants need to manage many tasks at the same time.
For example, they are required to work with a file management system, either physically or using the software. Planning, delegating work, and office management are examples of organizational skills.
The ability to solve problems, especially when last-minute changes happen, is a skill hiring manager looks for in the administrative assistant role. As an administrative assistant, you will encounter unexpected obstacles and face many problems.
Therefore, you need to be resourceful and creative in finding different solutions to resolve the issues quickly.
Ability to work independently
Working alone means you can work with minimal supervision. You can understand and follow instructions given by others and complete the tasks independently. Administrative assistants are usually individual contributors who work with multiple stakeholders. Hence, you need to have the ability to work self-sufficiently to complete the tasks assigned.
Administrative assistant spends a significant amount of their working hours on the computer. You need to use your computer to draft and send emails, update calendars or create PowerPoint slides. Hence, having basic knowledge of how to use computers and software such as Microsoft Office is essential.
You should now understand the role and skills required for an administrative assistant role. So keep these skills in mind while you prepare for your interview.
Reflect on how you’ve applied these skills in your previous job. Sharing examples of how you displayed these skills at work will give the interviewers a positive impression of your competence.
24 Administrative Assistant Interview Questions
1. Why are you interested in working in our company?
Recruiters ask this question to observe how eager you are about the job and position. In addition, it is an excellent opportunity to exhibit your research ability to the interviewers.
While you are not expected to know everything about the company, you can use this chance to highlight something the company has done that has impressed you.
Or it might be the working environment or company culture that you want to work in. How you respond to this question will demonstrate to the interviewers that you understand the company’s values.
2. What attracts you to apply for this administrative job?
While knowing about your past working experiences as a candidate is crucial, so is understanding what attracts you to the administrative assistant role. Here are a few reasons why interviewers ask this question:
- Ensure the candidates and company goals or values are aligned.
- Assist interviewers in understanding a candidate’s working style.
- Determines how well a candidate understands the job they apply to.
3. How do you think an administrative assistant can add value to the success of the organization?
The interviewer should know the answer to this question. However, they ask questions to assess how you describe the administrative assistant position. In addition, they want to see how you can add value to the company’s business objectives.
To answer this question, highlight 2-3 crucial points on how you can contribute to helping the organization to meet its objectives. Then, demonstrate to the hiring managers how you want to contribute to the company’s success and growth.
4. Which type of workplace environment do you prefer working in?
Before going to the interview, research the company to understand its values and culture better. You can find this information usually on the company’s official website or social media accounts. If your values are similar to the organization’s, you can reply to this question more passionately.
If you enjoy working in a team, say that you thrive in a collaborative and open environment. But if you prefer to do work at your pace and time, share that with the interviewer. No matter how desperate you want the job, you won’t be able to work in the company for a long time if the working culture does not suit you.
5. Why did you quit your previous job?
There are a few reasons why recruiters ask this question. The main reason is they want to know your career direction, the type of working culture and the job you find gratifying. They also want to see whether you’re still on friendly terms with your previous employer.
Below are a few things you should take note of when answering this question:
- Be specific about why you decided to quit the previous company.
- Ensure your answer is concise.
- Keep a positive mindset.
6. What makes you think that you are suitable for this administrative assistant position suits you?
This interview question is an excellent method to collect information about your key strengths. In addition, interviewers use this question to determine if you have what it takes to succeed in this role.
Interviewers also want to know why you think you are suitable for this position and what you can bring that other candidates can’t to their team. This is your chance to highlight your primary skills and qualification and explain how you will contribute to the company’s success.
7. What unique skill set do you have that can help you perform well in this job?
Interviewers ask this question to find out what skills or credentials you can bring to the role and company. This question also allows the interviewers to probe further to understand more details about the skills or qualifications.
To answer this question, you can reflect on your strengths and professional qualification. You can start by reviewing the job description and determining which skills resonate with you most closely. Then, give a specific example of how and when you showcased these skills during your previous job.
8. How comfortable are you with using (a particular software program)?
This is a technical question designed to assess a candidate’s technical skills with a computer program or software application. Therefore, interviewers need to evaluate if a candidate has prior experience with computers and specialized software.
This is an excellent time to share your knowledge on using specific programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Suite. Also, feel free to share your computer troubleshooting skills if you have any.
9. Can you share examples of how you use (a particular software program) to help you in your work? How familiar are you with the advanced functionalities of the program?
This is usually a follow-up question to what you described in the previous question. Interviewers will ask this question if they are interested to understand more about what you shared earlier. And this is usually a positive indication. It shows that the interviewers are interested in what you shared, or they find the skills you have essential to them.
10. What is your greatest accomplishment/failure in your career so far?
Hiring managers ask this question to evaluate if you reflect on your achievements and failures.
Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Interviewers want to know if you are open to sharing the mistake or error you made. They want to see that you are willing to admit to your mistakes and how you can overcome and learn from them.
To answer this question, you should provide a real-life example of a situation where you committed an error. Then, take some time to think about what went wrong and how you resolved the error. Then, you can share what you learned from the mistake and how you plan to do things differently so that you won’t make the same mistake again.
11. What kind of supervisor do you prefer working with?
This question allows the interviewers to understand if you can work independently. It also allows the interviewers to determine whether your future supervisor’s management style suits your preference.
Hence, you must be honest about your preferred management style. The interviewers must ensure that this position is a good fit for you and the organization. If not, this may prevent you from performing at your highest level, and you may not be able to stay with the organization for long.
12. Can you share when you received constructive criticism from your manager? And what actions did you take after receiving the feedback?
When interviewers ask you this question, they want to understand how you handle challenging situations and whether you can receive recommendations and feedback constructively. They also want to know what actions you take (if any) after receiving those feedback.
Your answer to this question will demonstrate to the interviewers your openness to accepting others’ opinions and how you take action to learn from the feedback they provide.
13. Do you have experience working with several supervisors simultaneously? If so, how did you prioritize your work and manage their expectations?
This question enables hiring managers to gauge your time management and organizational skills. As highlighted above, these skills are critical for administrative assistants because they are expected to juggle many tasks simultaneously.
Furthermore, administrative assistants’ roles differ based on how many stakeholders they support. By asking this question, interviewers can understand how much experience you have in managing multiple stakeholders and if you are the right person to take on this job.
14. Have you ever been in a conflict at the workplace before? What are the steps you took to resolve the dispute?
No matter your company, there are bound to be workplace conflicts. And as an administrative assistant, you are required to manage multiple stakeholders, which increases your probability of getting into a conflict or disagreement. Interviewers ask this question to determine how comfortable you are when dealing with conflict. They want to observe if you perform self-reflection and learn from the conflicts you experience.
Furthermore, interviewers ask this question not because they care that you had a conflict with others. Instead, they want to hear how you resolve the dispute and move forward.
To answer this question, think of a specific example of you encountering a conflict. Then, describe how the conflict happened, when it happened, how you resolved the situation, or how you decided to move on if you cannot address the conflict.
Take note that you should never criticize your colleague or previous employer. Instead, emphasize your effort to resolve the conflicts and how you learn from them.
15. Share a time when you had to deal with the most challenging colleague you had to work with and share how you manage them?
Interviewers ask this question to see how you manage interpersonal conflict. Here are a few tips for preparing for this question:
- Think of a time when you encountered a specific issue with a colleague.
- Be objective when describing the challenging situation.
- Reflect on the situation and take accountability for what you did.
- Explain how you dealt with the incident and the lesson learned.
16. How does a typical day looks like in your current/most recent position?
The recruiters are looking for evidence that you are familiar with the responsibilities of an administrative assistant. They also want to see if your daily tasks follow a logical flow.
The question also gives you a chance to show how you exceed expectations at work by being proactive and completing tasks that add value to your projects and organization. Your answer will also inform the recruiters if you have the competency to complete your tasks within the deadline.
17. If you are assigned a large project to manage, what would you do first? How would you organize your work?
This is another question that recruiters ask to learn more about your organizational skills. You can answer this question by describing step-by-step the detailed approach you took to manage a large project.
Answering the question this way demonstrates to the interviewers that you are well-organized and competent. This question also allows the interviewers to understand how you prioritize your work and ensure you complete your tasks on time to contribute to the project’s success.
18. What is the most challenging project you ever did and how you addressed it?
Interviewers ask this type of question to observe how you face a challenging situation and the steps you took to overcome it.
To prepare an answer to this question, you must first identify one project that you find most challenging and is also something the employer is likely to encounter. Then you can start discussing your strengths and how you contributed to the project’s completion.
The interviewers are keen to understand how you overcame the challenge. So, describe this in detail for the interviewer to understand your thought process behind the steps you took to overcome the challenge.
19. If you were allowed to change any program, equipment or process in your most recent/current job, which would you change? And why would you change it?
The interviewers want to know about your daily experiences using your previous company’s tools. They also want to observe if you can spot and suggest process improvements.
While this is a great skill, it’s better to make suggestions for changes only after you have worked for a reasonable amount of time with the company. Doing so shows you have spent enough time learning the organization’s central processes and tools. It also provides you the time to build your reputation and credibility within the organization to make such recommendations.
20. Can you share with me one project you enjoyed working on the most as an administrative assistant?
Asking this question helps interviewers learn what tasks you enjoy doing the most. To answer this question, you begin by identifying one project you enjoyed working on the most. Next, describe what position you were assigned to in the project and the activities you were responsible for. Then you can share the project’s outcome and what you enjoyed the most throughout the entire project.
21. Can you tell me what you like about the administrative assistant role?
Individuals who love what they do are more likely to be successful and effective at work. This question allows the interviewers to understand what you enjoy doing the most as an administrative assistant.
To answer this question, you can start by identifying two or three responsibilities of being an administrative assistant that you enjoy doing the most. Don’t just stop at describing what you like but support your response with an example from your past working experience.
22. What did you change as an administrative assistant role in your previous companies?
Interviewers ask this question to understand which part of a job is critical to you. Is it the work environment, company culture or job responsibilities? They use this question also to gain a better insight into your personality. Sharing what you improved or changed in your previous role gives them an idea of which aspect of a job is not suitable for you.
23. How do you think the role of an administrative assistant may change based on recent trends?
Asking this question gives hiring managers an understanding of whether you are up-to-date with the latest trends. It also allows hiring managers to see what new perspective you can bring to the team if they hire you. The administrative assistant role can change depending on the organizations and individuals they work with. So make sure you research the latest trends in the working world.
It could be a range of new software or tools that can help you communicate or manage projects more effectively. Or the shifting trend from work-life balance to work-life integration, managing workplace stress and AI that helps to automate specific tasks or administrative processes.
24. Do you have any questions?
Interviewers always conclude a job interview by ensuring they allow candidates to ask any questions they may have. While the preceding 23 questions address most of what interviewers want to know about a candidate for the role, this question gives the candidate a chance to ask any questions they might be curious about. It allows you to show your interest in understanding more about the role or the organization.
Questions for You to Ask in an Administrative Assistant Interview
The interviewer will almost certainly ask you, ‘Do you have any questions?’ before your interview ends.
While the easy answer may be ‘no’ and you want to leave the interview as soon as possible, you should never answer ‘no’ to this question.
On the contrary, use this opportunity to end the interview positively by posing a few intelligent questions to the interviewer. It’s your final opportunity to leave a good impression on the interviewer. When you don’t have any questions, the interviewer may think you are not keen on this role.
Here are a few questions for reference:
- How fast are you looking to put someone in this role?
- To whom am I reporting?
- What kind of administration software is the company using now?
- What training are the new hires required to go through?
- How often do the company conduct employee performance reviews?
- What is the team’s management style?
- What does the best candidate look like for this role?
How To Prepare for an Administrative Assistant Interview
Here are four recommendations for your upcoming administrative assistant interview:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
You must begin thinking like an administrative assistant before you go for an interview. As highlighted above, an administrative assistant’s role is to help managers or supervisors to manage their day-to-day activities.
Ensure that you emphasize and highlight the core skills and requirements the company is looking for in the role. Aim to make the resume filtration work for the hiring manager easier.
When the key points in your resume are easily found, you stand a higher chance of getting invited for an interview.
2. Use Specific Examples from Your Previous Experience
Making a manager’s or supervisor’s life smoother is an essential quality of a successful administrative assistant. Use your past experiences to give examples of how you made your previous manager’s life easier. When you give specific examples of what you did, you are reassuring the recruiter that you have the required experience.
3. Examine Your Soft Skills Closely
We’ve already discussed the essential soft skills for an administrative assistant above. So, make sure you reread the list and focus on the soft skills required for the position. Having the technical skills is only half the battle won.
The other half is won by showcasing that you have the soft skills required for the role. Ensure you emphasize the skills in your cover letter, resume, and interview.
4. Show Your Tech Savviness
You cannot run away from using technology or software as an administrative assistant. Being tech-savvy is highly vital for this role. Having a basic knowledge of using computers is a skill set that interviewers value.
Knowing how to utilize the program greatly showcases your abilities to oversee a smooth-running workplace environment.
Administrator Assistant Interview Questions Frequently Asked Questions
What skills should an administrative assistant have?
Administrative assistants are invaluable team members in every organization. They are crucial in getting things done efficiently and have contact with many people, clients and processes.
Hence, it is critical that they have excellent communication and organizational skills. They should also be good problem-solvers with basic computing knowledge who can work independently.