When you're interviewing for an administrative assistant job, the interviewer will want to learn about how relevant your qualifications are for the position and how you would fit in with the company and the department.
Because the job requires both administrative and interpersonal skills, hiring managers will often ask about the specific attributes you have that qualify you for the position, as well as your less quantifiable people skills.
Preparing for the Interview
One of the ways to prepare is to analyze the job description to try to get a sense of whether there is a particular skill set 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?
Make a list of the skills mentioned in the job posting, and feel free to add some others 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.
Watch Now: How to Answer 4 Common Questions For Administrative Jobs
Tips for Handling the Interview
It's important to be aware the discussion will likely go beyond interpersonal soft skills, such as your communication abilities, organizational skills, 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 use of specific software, you may have to discuss the various programs you’ve worked with, how you have used these programs, and your level of expertise.
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.
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.
Your answers will be more impressive if you provide specific anecdotes that exemplify your command of administrative tools and processes.
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 doubt that you are organized and detail-oriented. Your interviewer will want to know how you manifest these qualities in your everyday workflow.
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 previously 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 staff involved could track their progress regarding the team's projects and events.
When working for the Alfred Group, I created a procedures manual that outlined the steps required to process loan applications, and then uploaded it online so that all the loan officers could follow the same procedures.
Always Respond Positively
Be mindful of your demeanor throughout the interview. Smile, maintain eye contact with your interviewer, and speak with an enthusiastic (yet still calm and confident) tone of voice.
Since administrative assistants often interface very closely with the individuals for whom they work, it is essential to be positive, professional, and polite at all times.
You’ll want the interviewer to have no doubt that working with you would be a pleasant experience.
I worked the front desk in our agency, and it was critical that I made a positive first impression for both current and prospective clients. I am a natural "can do" person, and my reviews have regularly lauded my customer service orientation.
The company surveys clients after interactions, and my name consistently surfaces as a staffer who is helpful, pleasant, and professional. My boss has commented on how often clients ask for me when calling the office for assistance.
Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and Answers
While preparing, it can be useful to review questions you might be asked. 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 would it help your performance in this position? - Best Answers
- What is your greatest weakness? - Best Answers
- How do you handle stress and pressure? - Best Answers
- What was it like working for your supervisor? - Best Answers
- What do you expect from a supervisor? - Best Answers
- Do you prefer to work independently or in a team? - Best Answers
- Do you work well with people? - Best Answers
- Give some personal examples of teamwork. - Best Answers
- Receptionist interview questions: - List of Questions
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
You should also do some research about the company, and be prepared to ask pertinent questions when the opportunity arises.
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 near the end of the interview, so it's important to leave the interviewer(s) 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?
- In 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 attributes 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 of 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 any 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?
Be Prepared for More 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.