Administrative assistants are the backbone of any organization. They keep the office running smoothly by managing schedules, organizing and filing documents, and handling customer inquiries. They also provide support to the managers and employees of the company.
If you’re looking for an administrative assistant job, you’ll likely need to go through an interview process. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to know what to expect. In this guide, we’ll provide you with questions and answers that are commonly asked in administrative assistant interviews.
Common Administrative Assistant Interview Questions
- Why do you want to be an administrative assistant?
- What does an ideal workday look like for you?
- How would your previous supervisor describe you?
- What skills make you a great administrative assistant?
- Describe the last project you completed and what you learned from it.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
- Do you have any questions about the job or our company?
- Are you comfortable working with computers?
- What is your greatest strength as an administrative assistant?
- What software are you most comfortable using?
- What would you do if you felt underutilized or bored at work?
- What did you enjoy about your last job?
- What kind of schedule do you hope to have here?
- Can you explain some common tasks that an administrative assistant performs?
- What methods do you use to stay organized?
- What would you do if you realized you made a serious error that affected a client?
- Would you consider yourself more task-oriented or people-oriented?
- How do you prefer to communicate, verbally or in writing?
- If you were going to give advice to a new intern, what might it be?
- How do you decide which responsibility to prioritize?
- What would you do if you noticed a coworker making a major error?
- What would you do if you saw an intern struggling with a task you normally perform?
- How do you handle having multiple clients needing attention simultaneously?
- How do you deal with stress or frustration on the job?
Why do you want to be an administrative assistant?
Employers ask this question to learn more about your passion for the administrative assistant role. They want to know what motivates you to do your job well. When answering this question, try to talk about what you enjoy most about administrative assistant work. You can also talk about what you hope to gain from this position.
Example: “I want to be an administrative assistant because I love helping others. I am very organized and I enjoy finding solutions to problems. I feel like this role would give me the opportunity to use my skills to help others succeed. I also hope that I can learn more about how to be an effective leader by working as an administrative assistant.”
What does an ideal workday look like for you?
This question helps the interviewer understand what your ideal work environment is like. They want to know that you will be happy and productive at their company. Your answer should include a description of a typical workday, including what you do and how you feel about it.
Example: “I love starting my day with a cup of coffee and checking my email. I like to respond to any urgent emails right away so my coworkers can get the information they need. I then move on to organizing my coworkers’ schedules, making sure all documents are filed where they need to be and answering any questions my coworkers have. I find that I enjoy the organization aspect of my job, so I also like to help my coworkers find important documents and files when they need them.”
How would your previous supervisor describe you?
This question is a great way to learn more about your administrative assistant skills. Employers ask this question to see if you have good relationships with your coworkers. They also want to know if your coworkers would recommend you for the job. Before your interview, ask your previous supervisor if they would be willing to give you a reference. If they agree, ask them this question so you can prepare an answer.
Example: “My previous supervisor would describe me as a hard worker who is always willing to help. She would say that I am always on time and that I am always prepared for meetings. She would also say that I am a great communicator and that I am always friendly and helpful to everyone who needs it.”
What skills make you a great administrative assistant?
Administrative assistants need to have a wide range of skills to be successful in their role. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the skills necessary for the job. Before your interview, make a list of your strongest skills. Choose skills that relate to the job description. Show the employer that you have the skills they are looking for.
Example: “I am extremely organized and detail-oriented. I am always on time and always meet deadlines. I am also very personable and friendly. I enjoy helping others and making them feel comfortable. I am also highly computer literate and knowledgeable about many different software programs. These skills make me a great administrative assistant.”
Describe the last project you completed and what you learned from it.
This question can help employers understand your work ethic and how you apply what you learn to your daily tasks. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention a project that you enjoyed and the skills you gained from it.
Example: “The last project I completed was creating a new filing system for my previous employer. I noticed the company’s filing system was becoming disorganized, so I decided to create a new system that would make it easier for employees to find documents. I researched different filing systems and implemented one that would be easy for employees to use and understand. I learned that it’s important to find a balance between creating a system that’s easy to use and one that is organized enough to find documents quickly.”
Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
Employers ask this question to make sure you’re willing to admit your mistakes and learn from them. Your answer should show that you’re honest and willing to learn from your mistakes.
Example: “When I first started as an administrative assistant, I was so focused on getting everything done that I forgot to send the client a confirmation email. When the client called me asking why they hadn’t received their documents, I apologized and explained that I had forgotten to send the email. I learned that it’s important to double-check everything I do, no matter how busy I am.”
Do you have any questions about the job or our company?
This question allows you to show your interest in the position and company. It also gives you the opportunity to ask about things like the company culture, how you can grow in your career or how you can make a meaningful contribution. Before your interview, come up with a few questions to ask the interviewer. Some sample questions include:
“What does a typical day look like for this position?”“What are some of the challenges of this role?”“What are some of the opportunities for professional growth?”Example: “I’m very interested in this job, and I think I would be a great fit for this position. I’m looking for an opportunity to use my organizational skills and attention to detail. I’m also hoping to learn more about the company’s culture and how I can make a meaningful contribution to the team.”
Are you comfortable working with computers?
Administrative assistants use computers to complete many of their daily tasks. Employers ask this question to ensure you have the necessary skills to complete your job duties. Before your interview, make sure you review the job description and highlight any computer skills the employer is looking for. In your answer, let the employer know that you have these skills and provide an example of a time you used them.
Example: “I am very comfortable working with computers. In my previous role, I was responsible for creating spreadsheets and organizing digital files. I also had to use computers to complete my daily tasks, such as scheduling meetings and ordering supplies. I am confident that I can complete all of the administrative assistant duties with ease.”
What is your greatest strength as an administrative assistant?
Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and how you would fit in with their team. They want to know what you are most proud of and what you feel you do best. When preparing for this question, think about what you are most passionate about in your career. Think about the skills you have developed over time that have helped you be successful in your previous roles.
Example: “My greatest strength as an administrative assistant is my attention to detail. I have always been a person who is organized, and I have worked hard to develop my organizational skills. I am always on time with my work, and I make sure to proofread all of my work before submitting it. I feel that my attention to detail is one of the reasons I have been able to advance in my career.”
What software are you most comfortable using?
Administrative assistants often need to use a variety of software programs. The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your comfort level with using specific software. Before your interview, review the job description to see which software the company uses. In your answer, share which software you are most comfortable using and explain why you feel confident using it.
Example: “I am most comfortable using Microsoft Office, Google Suite and Dropbox. I have used these programs for years, and I find them easy to navigate. I also enjoy using project management software like Trello and Asana. These tools allow me to stay organized and communicate with my team. I find them especially useful when I need to collaborate with other administrative assistants.”
What would you do if you felt underutilized or bored at work?
Administrative assistants often have a lot of downtime when there aren’t many tasks to complete. Employers ask this question to make sure you’re someone who can keep yourself busy and productive when you’re not being actively engaged. In your answer, explain that you would try to find ways to stay engaged and productive. You can also mention that you would try to come up with ways to improve the administrative assistant’s workflow.
Example: “If I ever felt underutilized or bored at work, I would first try to find ways to improve my workflow. For example, if I noticed a task that I was doing over and over again, I would try to find a way to automate it or delegate it to someone else. If I couldn’t come up with a way to improve my workflow, then I would speak with my supervisor about it. I would let them know that I’m a hard worker and that I want to be as productive as possible.”
What did you enjoy about your last job?
This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and understand what you value in your work. This can also help them determine if your values align with the job you’re interviewing for. When answering this question, think about what you enjoy about your job and what you hope to gain from this new position.
Example: “My last job was at a small publishing company, and I really enjoyed the fast pace of the work. I also loved collaborating with my coworkers, and I hope to find a job where I can do that again. I also really enjoyed the work I did there, and I hope to find a job where I can use my skills and experience to help others.”
What kind of schedule do you hope to have here?
Employers ask this question to learn about your expectations for the job. They want to make sure you are a good fit for the company culture and that you understand what the job entails. In your answer, be honest about what you hope to get out of the job. Explain that you are willing to work any schedule that is beneficial to the company.
Example: “I am hoping to have a regular nine-to-five schedule. I understand that sometimes things come up, and I am prepared to work overtime if needed. I am a hard worker, and I know that I can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. I hope that we can find a schedule that works for both of us.”
Can you explain some common tasks that an administrative assistant performs?
Administrative assistants perform a variety of tasks, and employers ask this question to make sure you understand the role. When answering this question, try to list some of the most common tasks that an administrative assistant performs. You can also mention that you are willing to perform any task that is required of you.
Example: “Some common tasks that an administrative assistant performs include answering phones, scheduling meetings, managing calendars, organizing files and documents, typing correspondence and reports and managing schedules. I am willing to perform any task that is required of me to help the company succeed.”
What methods do you use to stay organized?
Administrative assistants often have a lot of responsibilities, so employers ask this question to make sure you have good organizational skills. In your answer, explain how you stay organized and give an example of a time you used your organization skills to help someone.
Example: “I use several methods to stay organized. I use a calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines. I also use a to-do list to make sure I don’t forget anything. I find that these two tools are the most helpful for me because they allow me to see everything I need to do at a glance.
At my last job, I used my organization skills to help my manager stay on top of her work. She was very busy, so I created a spreadsheet that listed all of her tasks for the week. She could then check off each task as she completed it and see at a glance if she had any free time.”
What would you do if you realized you made a serious error that affected a client?
Employers ask this question to make sure you know how to handle mistakes professionally. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to fix the error and apologize to the client.
Example: “In my previous role, I accidentally sent a client’s confidential information to another client. I immediately contacted the client to let them know what happened and offered to send them a new copy of the information. I also reported the incident to my supervisor, who helped me send a new copy of the information to the client. The client was happy with my response and appreciated that I was honest about the mistake.”
Would you consider yourself more task-oriented or people-oriented?
Administrative assistants often need to be able to work with both people and tasks. Employers ask this question to see if you can balance both. In your answer, explain how you can use both skills to be successful in this role.
Example: “I think I’m a little bit of both. I enjoy working with people, so I find it rewarding to help others. However, I also enjoy the challenge of working on tasks. I find that I can use my people skills to get information from others and my task-oriented skills to complete the tasks I need to do.”
How do you prefer to communicate, verbally or in writing?
This question can give an employer insight into your communication style and preferences. Your answer can also show an employer how you would interact with their team members. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific situation where you used both verbal and written communication to achieve a goal.
Example: “I find that I am most productive when I am able to use both verbal and written communication. I find that I can communicate verbally with coworkers when I need to ask questions or clarify information. I also find that I can communicate in writing when I need to send an email or document to a coworker. This helps me ensure that the message I am sending is clear and easy to understand.”
If you were going to give advice to a new intern, what might it be?
This question can give the interviewer insight into your leadership skills and ability to mentor others. Your answer can also reveal what you think is most important for an administrative assistant to know. Consider asking a senior administrative assistant or someone you know in the field for advice on what they wish they had known when they started their career.
Example: “If I were to give advice to a new administrative assistant, I would tell them to make sure they are organized and always have a plan. I would also tell them that it’s important to be a good communicator and to always be respectful of the people they work with. Finally, I would tell them to always be on time and to never leave work until they have completed all of their tasks.”
How do you decide which responsibility to prioritize?
Administrative assistants often have a lot of responsibilities to complete in a day. Employers ask this question to make sure you can prioritize your tasks and get them done on time. In your answer, explain how you decide which tasks to do first. Explain that you do this by considering the deadlines for each task. Show the employer that you can manage your time well and get your work done efficiently.
Example: “I decide which tasks to prioritize by looking at each task’s deadline. I make sure to start with the task that has the soonest deadline. I then work my way through the rest of my tasks, making sure to get each one done by its deadline. This helps me stay organized and ensures that I can get all my work done on time.”
What would you do if you noticed a coworker making a major error?
Administrative assistants often work with many different people. Interviewers ask this question to learn how you would handle a challenging situation with a coworker. In your answer, explain how you would approach the coworker and what you would say. Explain that you would help them fix the error and prevent it from happening again.
Example: “If I noticed a coworker making a major error, I would approach them privately. I would explain to them that I noticed an error in their work and offer to help them fix it. I would then help them find the correct information and show them how to avoid making the same mistake again. This approach shows my coworkers that I am willing to help them and that I care about their work. It also helps me learn more about the company’s processes and procedures.”
What would you do if you saw an intern struggling with a task you normally perform?
This question can help the interviewer determine how you can delegate tasks to others and how you can help interns and other employees with their work. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention that you are willing to train interns and help them with their work.
Example: “If I saw an intern struggling with a task I normally perform, I would ask them if they need help. If they did, I would offer to help them with the task and explain how I perform it. If they didn’t need help, I would ask if they would like me to train them on the task so they can do it on their own in the future.”
How do you handle having multiple clients needing attention simultaneously?
Administrative assistants often have multiple clients who need their attention at the same time. Employers ask this question to see how you handle multiple tasks at once. In your answer, show the employer that you can multitask effectively. Explain that you have a system for managing your time and attention. Share a few tips for managing your time and attention effectively.
Example: “I have found that having a system for managing my time and attention is the best way to ensure I am meeting the needs of my clients. I use a calendar to schedule meetings and appointments. I also use a to-do list to help me stay organized. I find that these two tools help me manage my time and attention effectively. I am able to focus on the task at hand while also ensuring I am meeting the needs of my clients.”
How do you deal with stress or frustration on the job?
Administrative assistants often work in high-pressure environments. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the ability to stay calm and focused on your work. In your answer, share a few strategies you use to stay calm and focused. Also, share a specific time when you used these strategies to overcome a stressful situation.
Example: “I find that the best way to stay calm and focused on my work is to take short breaks throughout the day. I also practice deep breathing exercises when I feel stressed or overwhelmed. I recently had a situation where I had to work late to meet a deadline. This caused me to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I took a few deep breaths and focused on my work. This helped me stay calm and get through the rest of the day.”
What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for administrators? ›
- What appeals to you about administrative jobs?
- What do you find most challenging about office support jobs in general?
- Why do you think you would be the best fit for this administrative position?
- What technologies have you used in your past office support jobs?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How did you hear about this position?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What are your greatest weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- What are your career goals?
- What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why should we hire you?
- What's something that you didn't like about your last job?
- Why do you want this job?
- How do you deal with conflict with a co-worker?
- Here's an answer for you.
- Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
- Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
- Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.
- Do you come to work just to work, or do you like to socialize along the way?
- What inspires you to work in this industry?
- Tell me about a time when you felt like a hero at work.
- Tell me about a time when a job or company felt like a bad fit for your personality and why.
Tell me about yourself. Why are you interested in working for this company? Tell me about your education.What is the STAR method in interviews? ›
The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.How do I pass an admin interview? ›
- Research the company and the person/team you're meeting with. ...
- Understand the job description. ...
- Have a good grasp of your relevant skills, experiences, and strengths. ...
- Run-through some data-entry activities. ...
- Expect to answer questions about…
“Over the years, I have acquired relevant skills and experience, which I shall bring to your organization. I have also worked tirelessly on my communication abilities and teamwork skills, which I will put to use in my future career, which would be in your organization if I am selected for the position.What are the biggest interview mistakes? ›
- Turning up late. Work out exactly where you're going and how you're going to get there. ...
- Inappropriate clothing. ...
- Being unprepared. ...
- Lying. ...
- Criticising a current or previous employer. ...
- Letting your nerves get the better of you. ...
- Giving textbook responses. ...
- Being arrogant or rude.
What is the biggest failure interview question? ›
They want to see whether you can learn from mistakes and how resilient you are . For this reason, it's not uncommon for you to be asked 'What has been your biggest failure to date and what did you learn from it? ' or variations on the theme, such as: 'Describe a time when something didn't work out as you had planned.How do you respond to why should I hire you? ›
The first thing you should do when answering “why should we hire you?” is to highlight any skills and professional experience that are relevant to the position you're applying for. To make your answer all the more valid, make sure to always back up everything you say with examples, experiences, and achievements.Can you work under pressure? ›
The answer is Yes. We surely can work under stress but the cons in working under pressure or stress is that it hinders or blocks your creativity and ability to take smart decisions. So to overcome this situation, we should stay calm and breathe more.Why do you want this job? ›
“I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my …” “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because …” “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because …”How do you answer work under pressure? ›
- Use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. ...
- Be honest. It's best to be completely honest when discussing your abilities in a job interview. ...
- Stay calm and collected. Interviewers often observe nonverbal cues . ...
- Mention your ability to manage stress.
- Prepare: Like any exam, the more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be and a more relaxed disposition with ensure a more controlled and confident delivery. ...
- Practice: Practice the delivery of your prepared answers. ...
- Be on time. ...
- Know the interviewer's name, its spelling, and pronunciation. ...
- Have some questions of your own prepared in advance. ...
- Bring several copies of your resume. ...
- Have a reliable pen and a small note pad with you. ...
- Greet the interviewer with a handshake and a smile.
- Review common interview questions. ...
- Make a list of questions that you would like to ask during the interview. ...
- Be prepared. ...
- On the day of the interview, remember to:
- Display confidence during the interview, but let the interviewer start the dialogue. ...
- End the interview with a good impression.
“That's an interesting question. So that I understand exactly what you're looking for, do you mind unpacking the question a little more?” This is a tried and true “fail-safe” response when you don't quite know how to answer a question.How would you describe yourself in one word? ›
Which should you not do on an interview? ›
- Not Doing Your Research. ...
- Turning Up Late. ...
- Dressing Inappropriately. ...
- Fidgeting With Unnecessary Props. ...
- Poor Body Language. ...
- Unclear Answering and Rambling. ...
- Speaking Negatively About Your Current Employer. ...
- Not Asking Questions.
How to (and how not to) answer the interview question 'What can you bring to the company? ' The simple answer to this question is you : you bring all of your skills, qualities, values, interests, academic knowledge, internships and life experience to the company.How to introduce yourself in an interview? ›
Prepare What to Say
Greet the interviewers, state your name, and introduce yourself without fear. Be audible and bold to showcase your respect for the opportunity. Introduction can include education qualifications and experience depending on your level of expertise.
It's often acceptable and appropriate to take notes during the interview itself. As a courtesy, it's considered polite to ask your interviewer if they mind you taking notes before the interview begins. They're likely to say yes, and asking shows that you're a considerate individual.What is the Carl technique? ›
Context: Briefly describe the context of you experience. Action: Explain what actions you took. Results: Explain what happened as a result of your actions. Learning: Identify what you have learned.What is the most important skill of an admin? ›
Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are important for any administrative position. Administrators are often the go-to person that staff and clients seek out for help with questions or problems. They must be able to hear a variety of problems and solve them using critical thinking.What are two duties of an administrative assistant? ›
Administrative Assistant Job Responsibilities:
Answers phone calls, schedules meetings and supports visitors. Carries out administrative duties such as filing, typing, copying, binding, scanning etc. Completes operational requirements by scheduling and assigning administrative projects and expediting work results.
“ I feel my main weakness is that I sometimes take on too much work, simply because I don't want to say no. By taking on too much work, it can potentially have a detrimental impact on my other tasks, so I am learning to complete tasks thoroughly first, before agreeing to take on additional tasks.How do you stand out in the interview process? ›
- 1) Avoid talking about what you're not.
- 2) Tell a story about yourself.
- 3) Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
- 4) Don't hide who you are.
- 5) Pose thoughtful questions to your hiring manager.
A strong sample answer to “tell me about yourself”
I also help prepare correspondence, presentations and reports. “I'm known for being a detail-oriented, well-organized team player. I never miss deadlines, I'm a good communicator and I can juggle multiple tasks at once.
How do I nail my interview? ›
- Do your research.
- Prepare an elevator pitch.
- Study your resume.
- Study the job description.
- Use the STAR method.
- Create a strong first impression.
- Be prepared for small talk.
- Body language.
Within this definition, successful administration appears to rest on three basic skills, which we will call technical, human, and conceptual.How do I prepare for an administrator interview? ›
- Research the company and the person/team you're meeting with. ...
- Understand the job description. ...
- Have a good grasp of your relevant skills, experiences, and strengths. ...
- Run-through some data-entry activities. ...
- Expect to answer questions about…
“Over the years, I have acquired relevant skills and experience, which I shall bring to your organization. I have also worked tirelessly on my communication abilities and teamwork skills, which I will put to use in my future career, which would be in your organization if I am selected for the position.