9 Administrative Assistant Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated January 26, 2023
Published June 21, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Administrative assistants play an important role in ensuring an office, team, or project is well-coordinated. Preparing responses in advance for an interview for an administrative assistant position increases your chance of impressing the interviewer and getting the job. The interviewer will assess your skills and qualifications and whether you're a good fit for the role. So, it's highly important to prepare well for the most likely interview questions you'll hear.
In this article, we provide you with some of the most common questions in administrative assistant interviews and include sample answers to guide you in preparing your own.
What interviewers look for in administrative assistants
Considering the central role played by administrative assistants, employers look for specific attributes that combine both hard and soft skills. Here are some important attributes interviewers for this position evaluate in a candidate:
Communication skills: One of the essential roles of an administrative assistant is to communicate professionally and effectively inside and outside the company.
Administrative skills: Administrative assistants perform various administrative tasks such as ordering stationery, opening and closing the office, and ensuring the office is clean and welcoming.
Interpersonal skills: Administrative assistants work closely with almost everyone in a business. They need to have excellent interpersonal and collaboration skills to build relationships with clients, customers, and colleagues.
Computer skills: Administrative assistants use computers for most communication and documentation. An administrative assistant must show their proficiency in using a computer to accomplish various tasks such as typing, preparing presentations, responding to emails, and making phone calls.
Organizational skills: An administrative assistant manages events and several calendars for executives or managers. They need strong organizational skills to ensure their work and others' schedules are up to date and easy to follow.
During the interview, highlight these skills in your answers. Keep the job-specific skills in mind. You can find these in the job description and make a mental note of which of the skills are your greatest strengths. Make sure you tailor your answers to the specific position, as not all administrative assistants perform the same tasks.
Administrative assistant interview questions
Here are nine of the most common administrative assistant interview questions to expect:
1. What duties and responsibilities do you expect in this role?
An administrative assistant plays an essential role in the office environment. This question tests your knowledge of the key duties and responsibilities of the position. The question also assesses whether you're dedicated to your work and ready to take on these tasks. In your answer, outline the most prominent duties and responsibilities, and highlight your ability to complete them.
Example: “As an administrative assistant, I play an important role in the office by supporting my colleagues in achieving their objectives. I expect to use my organizational skills to support others and maintain a functional office environment. I'm also familiar with routine tasks such as filing, managing schedules, and stocking office supplies.”
2. What excites you most about being an administrative assistant?
Working in a role you enjoy makes you more productive. Interviewers prefer a candidate who can show that they genuinely enjoy the duties and responsibilities of the position. In your answer, mention what you love about working as an administrative assistant.
Example: “One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an administrative assistant is the ability to collaborate with others. From the chief executive to the janitor, they all come to you for help on various issues in the office."
3. What is your ideal office environment?
This question tests your ability to fit in with the company culture. To prepare for this question, research the company's culture and core values. You can check their website for information, or if you have a contact who works there, you can ask them about the office environment.
Example: “I prefer working in a collaborative office environment. I'm motivated by working with others and love a team mentality. When the office is collaborative, we win together and lose together. However, I'm also comfortable working independently on certain projects."
Related: How to Work in a Team Environment (With Benefits and Steps)
4. Are you familiar with any planning and organization tools?
Administrative assistants need to be highly organized and able to manage their time well. They achieve this by using tools to manage tasks such as planning meetings, tracking events, or monitoring project milestones. This question gauges your knowledge of essential planning tools. Mention the tools and software you've used before and your preferences. Explain what they helped you achieve and how you use them to stay organized.
Example: “I've used several tools to help me achieve success in my work. In my previous position, I used Microsoft Outlook to manage several of the senior managers' schedules, ensuring they never missed a meeting or appointment. I also like Microsoft Project for office initiatives that require a lot of collaboration, so we can keep everyone on track and monitor progress."
5. What software do you use for your daily tasks?
Employers prefer administrative assistant candidates who can exhibit their knowledge of basic computer programs. Tasks like data entry, filing, monitoring email inboxes and much more are all done on the computer. This question tests your tech abilities and general computer skills. When answering this question, highlight the computer software you're familiar with and your proficiency level.
Example: “I've had experience working with computers from a young age. I used them for projects in high school, university, and in my previous administrative positions. I'm proficient with the entire Microsoft Office Suite such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. In my previous role, the owner commended me for my detailed and aesthetically pleasing presentation slides. I can also set up virtual meetings and remote working software.”
6. How do you prioritize tasks?
Administrative assistants may need to report to several supervisors and project managers, each with their own set of demands. This question examines your ability to juggle several competing roles successfully. In answering this question, feature your valuable skills such as organization, multitasking, and time management.
Example: “When handling several high-priority tasks, I liaise with the project leads on deadlines for each task. I then evaluate and list the tasks based on their level of importance and urgency. I stay in regular communication with my colleagues to ensure we're on track and let them know they can rely on me. I have excellent multitasking skills so I can manage several tasks for various projects at once.”
7. Describe a situation where you had a conflict with a colleague and how you resolved it
Administrative assistants work with every department and employee in the office. Occasionally, conflict may arise because of miscommunications or differences of opinion. This question tests your perception of conflict in the workplace, your problem-solving, and your interpersonal skills. When answering this question, provide an example of a conflict you were involved in and how you resolved the situation.
Example: “I know that conflicts in the workplace are sometimes unavoidable. In my previous position, I disagreed with a colleague on whether we should keep the office open over the holiday period. I organized a meeting where we could sit without distractions and discuss the pros and cons. We found a middle ground which involved closing the office, but making ourselves available by phone and emails throughout the period.”
8. Describe a situation where you made a significant mistake. What did you learn from it?
Interviewers are interested in your ability to acknowledge your mistakes, find solutions, and learn from them. In your answer, describe a scenario where you made a mistake and the steps you took to prevent it from happening again. You can use the STAR method to craft an effective response.
Example: “In my previous role as a personal assistant, the managing director gave me a list of people to invite to a virtual meeting. I then drafted and dispatched the email invites quickly. However, I forgot to follow up with a phone call to verify the participants' availability, and very few people attended the meeting. I learned to always send a follow-up email or make a phone call as a reminder and have had a much better turn out for virtual meetings since.”
9. How do you keep confidential information private as an administrative assistant?
As an administrative assistant, you are frequently trusted with privileged or sensitive information. This question tests whether you can maintain confidentiality and restrict information from others. In your answer, provide an example of relevant situations where you kept private information secure.
Example: “In my previous role, I accompanied my boss to a high-level meeting where a potential merger with a rival company was discussed. I was responsible for taking, typing, and safely sending the minutes. I didn't disclose the information about the merger to anyone and kept the details to myself. If any information about the merger had leaked, it could have affected employee morale or the relationship with the other business. I know how important it is to keep confidential information private."
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