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Administrative Assistant Interview Questions

administrative assistant interview questions

Do you have an interview lined up, and you feel a little nervous?

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get your first job or if you’re an experienced administrative assistant; a job interview will always be a stressful moment.

But don’t worry, I’m here to help you by explaining precisely what to do to be ready for the interview, and I’ll also provide you with the most common Administrative Assistant Interview Questions that you’ll likely be asked.

If you apply the tips you find in this article, you’ll get through your interview with much more confidence, and your chances of getting the job will dramatically increase.

the administrative assistant interview questions

What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?

But before we talk about the most popular questions, we need to take a look at what exactly an administrative assistant does and what requirements are needed for the position.

This is important because the recruiters will assess how well you know the duties that you’ll have to carry out daily. Moreover, they will want to verify that your skills match the job requirements exactly.

The less experienced you are in the job, the more the questions will revolve around your knowledge of the profession. Therefore it’s crucial that you know in detail what your responsibilities will be.

So, here are the most common duties that an administrative assistant carries out regularly:

  • Answering phone calls and emails and then redirecting them to the appropriate department
  • Greeting and directing visitors and clients
  • Organizing and preparing documents for meetings
  • Taking notes during a meeting
  • Providing administrative support for the office
  • Sending and receiving correspondence
  • Restocking office supplies
  • Arranging travel
  • Maintaining a filing system
  • Performing any additional administrative project as required by a supervisor/manager

Depending on the office you work in, the list might be longer. The job posting usually contains a description of all the duties that you’ll be in charge of. Make sure you read them carefully to get a complete overview of what you’ll be expected to do.

Skills and Education Requirements

However, knowing what your responsibilities are is not enough to get the job. Possessing the necessary skills and qualifications is even more critical. So, let’s take a look at what they are…

Education

For an entry-level job, a high school diploma is often enough. However, to get access to better positions and higher salaries, you might want to consider earning an appropriate certificate or an associate degree from a community or vocational college. This will provide you with all the knowledge and skills that you will otherwise have to obtain through training on the job.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are strongly related to the job you’re applying for. They are measurable and can be acquired through education, training, and practice. The recruiters will verify if you have these skills by asking you technical questions relevant to the job.

Here are the top hard skills that employers look for when they need an administrative assistant:

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, especially Excel and PowerPoint
  • Familiarity with office administration procedures
  • Office supply management
  • Typing skills

Soft Skills

On the other hand, soft skills are more difficult to measure but equally, if not more, important. They relate to the personality of the candidate and are easily transferable between different jobs.

While the recruiters can often understand if you have the hard skills by looking at your resume, your soft skills are more intangible, and therefore, a big portion of the interview will be about them.

the administrative assistant interview question

What are the soft skills that you will have to prove to the interviewer that you have?

  • Problem-solving
  • Multitasking
  • Communication, both written and verbal
  • Organization
  • Precision
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

How To Get Ready for The Interview?

Now that you have all the info you need, let’s look at how you can use it to prepare for the interview.

Research The Company

Even if an administrative assistant is not required to know everything about the company’s activities and its market, a basic familiarity with the core business is necessary.

Moreover, make sure you’re aware of the mission of the organization so that if they ask you what your goals are, you can tailor your answer to match the company’s vision.

Read The Job Requirements

Make a full list of all the skills mentioned in the job posting and include the ones that we have seen in the previous paragraph. Pick the ones that better represent you, and use them to structure your answers around them.

Make sure that for any skill, you can provide one or more examples of situations where you put them into practice.

STAR Method

Whenever you’re asked to describe a situation, use the STAR method as guidance. What was the Situation? What was your Target? Describe your Actions. And Illustrate the Results.

Practice Your Answers

Study the common questions featured in the next paragraph and practice your answers. However, don’t try to memorize them, or you will sound unnatural at the interview. Practice them in front of your mirror or, even better, ask a friend to help you.

Common Administrative Assistant Interview Questions

It’s time to see what kind of questions you should expect at the interview, starting with…

What, in your opinion, does it take to excel in this job?

As already mentioned, the recruiters might want to verify that you know what is necessary to be an excellent administrative assistant, especially if you’ve never done this job before. Use the information provided in this article to explain your main responsibilities and what skills you consider essential.

Top tip…

Avoid talking about skills you haven’t mastered yet because the next question could be about the specific skill you’ve just mentioned.

What software and computer programs are you familiar with?

This is an example of a technical question that the recruiters use to assess your hard skills. Ideally, you should be very comfortable using at least Excel and PowerPoint.

Then explain how you learned…

If you were working with them at any previous job, mention it, otherwise explain how you became familiar with them. Self-thought? An online course? Community college?

administrative assistant interview question guide

Tell us about a time when you’ve been assigned different projects at the same time. How did you handle it?

Multitasking and prioritizing are essential skills for an administrative assistant, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll be asked at least one question about this.

Be prepared to prove you have these skills and to explain how you obtained them.

You’ve been assigned a project, but the instructions are not clear. What would you do?

With this question, the recruiters are testing your communication abilities. Someone could be too shy to go to their supervisor and ask for clarification, especially when they first start to work for a new company.

Without clear instructions, the project you’re working on might end up being completely different from what you’re supposed to do, resulting in a waste of time for you and everyone else involved. Explain that you will use your diplomacy and communication skills to fully understand what is expected from you before you start working on the project.

Why should we hire you?

When the recruiters ask this popular question, they want to know if your skills and abilities meet the job requirements. Choose one or two skills and prove to the recruiters that you’ve mastered them.

How?

Use the STAR method to describe one time when you had to put them into practice. Remember that your answer should always be relevant to the job. Therefore, avoid talking about experiences from your private life. If you’ve just graduated, pick a story from your school career or extracurricular activities.

Similar questions that can be answered in the same way are:

  • What makes you unique?
  • Describe your greatest strength?
  • What makes you stand apart from the other candidates?

Other Common Questions

  • How do you manage conflict with coworkers?
  • How do you motivate yourself in the workplace?
  • Describe a routine day as an administrative assistant
  • Why would you like to work in an administrative position?
  • What do you not like about this job?
  • Can you tell us about a time when you had to work in a team? How did you contribute to the success of the project?

Want In-Depth Guidance to Answering Each of These Questions?

If so, please read my comprehensive articles on How To Answer What Are You Passionate About, Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, What Are You Most Proud Of, How Do You Handle Stress, What Makes You Unique, How To Answer What Is Your Greatest Strength, and How Do You Handle Conflict!

Or how about learning to respond like a boss to Why Do You Want to Work Here, How Do You Define Success, and Why We Should Hire You?

For recommendations on valuable resources to own for interviewing like a pro in 2023, check out Tough Interview Questions For Dummies, Create Positive Impressions, How to Define Success in Life, and Interview Like A Pro.

OK, back to today’s topic…

Final Thoughts

A job interview is a challenging time that represents a sliding door in our career. The only way to make it more bearable is by being prepared and anticipating what you will have to undergo. Therefore, if you’re being interviewed for an administrative assistant position, this article is exactly what you needed.

After you practice all the Interview Questions for Administrative Assistants that I’ve listed, you’ll be able to show the recruiters that you really are an excellent fit for the job.

All the best for your interview!

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