Administrative Job Interview Questions and Answers

Administrative assistant on phone
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When you're interviewing for an administrative assistant job, the interviewer will want to learn about the qualifications you have for the position and how you will fit in at the company and in the department. Administrative position interviewers will often ask about the specific skills you have that qualify you for the job as well as your less quantifiable people skills.

Tips for Handling the Interview

Know that the discussion will likely go beyond soft skills like your communication abilities, aptitude for organization, or timeliness. You should be ready to talk about hard skills, too.

Be Prepared to Discuss Software Programs

Since many administrative assistant positions require frequent usage of specific software, you may have to discuss various programs you’ve worked with, how you have used these programs, and your level of expertise.

  • Sample Answer: I love using technology and learning about new programs. I also have a knack for teaching co-workers who might not be so savvy about using systems. In my last job at Kent Associates, I volunteered to review project management systems for the team of professionals I supported. My boss approved my recommendation and we brought in a web-based system, Asana, that helps us to track projects and share information on a web platform.
  • Sample Answer: I am the go-to person in the office for PowerPoint slides and enjoy helping our sales people to wow customers with their presentations. I am also an advanced user of Excel and create complex macros to prepare budget projections for project proposals. 

    Be Ready to Discuss Administrative Processes

    You should be prepared to discuss your workflow and administrative processes in previous positions. As an administrative professional, there should be no question that you are organized and detail-oriented. Your interviewer will want to know how you manifest these qualities in your everyday workflow.

    • Sample Answer: Organizational abilities and attention to detail are among my strongest assets. I have thrived in situations where I can bring order to complex projects. For example, I supported eight professionals who were planning promotional events for clients. I developed a template for tracking goals and progress for each project and set it up on a shared drive so that all members of the staff could track progress with the team's projects and events.
    • Sample Answer: When working for the Alfred Group, I created a procedures manual that outlined the steps in processing loan applications and placed it online so that all the loan officers could follow the same process.

      Always Keep It Positive

      Be mindful of your demeanor during the interview. Since administrative assistants often interface very closely with the individuals for whom they work, it is important to be positive, professional, and polite. You’ll want the interviewer to have no doubt that working with you would be a pleasant experience.

      • Sample Answer: I worked the front desk in our agency, and it was critical that I made a positive first impression for current and prospective clients. I am a natural "can do" person and my reviews have regularly lauded my customer service orientation. 
      • Sample Answer: The company surveys clients after interactions, and my name has consistently surfaced as a staffer who was helpful, pleasant, and professional. My boss has commented how often clients ask for me when calling the office for assistance.

        Preparing for the Interview

        Analyze the job description to try to get a sense of whether there is a particular domain on which the position focuses. For example, is there an emphasis on travel planning, project coordination, day-to-day meeting scheduling, personal assistance, or anything else? If so, be sure to emphasize your most relevant experience when answering job-specific interview questions.

        Make a list of the skills they mention in the job posting, and feel free to add some that you think would be applicable as well. Then take a look at your own administrative and office skills, and match your qualifications to the job. This will help you tailor your answers in the most relevant way to the specific position.

        Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

        While preparing, it can be useful to review questions you might be asked, and give some thought to how to frame a response, highlighting specific experiences and successes from previous jobs.

        • What computer skills do you have and what programs are you comfortable using? - Best Answers
        • Are you comfortable using a phone with multiple lines and handling a high volume of telephone calls? - Best Answers
        • At this company, we like to think of ourselves as a team that works together towards the same goals. How do you feel about working in a team environment? - Best Answers
        • How would you feel supervising two or three other employees? - Best Answers
        • What is your greatest strength and how will it help your performance in this position? - Best Answers

        Questions to Ask the Interviewer

        You should also do some research about the company, and be prepared to ask pertinent questions when the opportunity is given to you. It can be helpful to come up with a few questions ahead of time that you might ask, or discuss further, if you didn’t get the chance earlier in the interview. Often this will be nearing the end of the interview, so you want to leave them with a good impression. A great way to do that is to show your interest and preparation for the job interview by tying in questions you were asked with some questions of your own.

        • What are the responsibilities of this position?
        • Can you describe a typical day(week) in this department?
        • What are the strengths in this department? What are the weaknesses?
        • What would your past assistants say was the best part of working for you? What would they say was the worst?
        • What direction do you see the company going in the next five years? Do you feel that there are any threats to its success?
        • Why did your last assistant leave the position? What were his/her strengths? What were his/her weaknesses? What is he/she doing now?
        • What characteristics did your best assistant have? What about your worst assistant?
        • How often are performance reviews performed? Who conducts them?
        • What skills are most important to you in an administrative assistant?
        • How do you reward and encourage the people who work in your department?
        • Are there any ongoing production issues in this department?
        • How have you dealt with personnel problems in the past?
        • What are some of the biggest challenges for a person in this position?
        • What is the most rewarding aspect of this position, in your opinion?
        • Do you (Does the company/department) support memberships in professional associations, and continuing professional development?
        • What would you describe as the role of the administrative staff in this office?
        • Are overtime or weekend hours expected?
        • What do you like most about working for this company? Are there changes you would make?
        • What do you like least about working here?
        • Do you encourage the department to work as a team, or concentrate more on individual contributions?

        General Job Interview Questions

        In addition to job specific interview questions, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Here's a list of the most common interview questions and sample answers.