Top Fifteen Tips to Be a Successful Administrative Assistant (2023)

Get the inside scoop on office expectations.

Administrative Assistants are the gasoline fueling today's offices. From office supply inventory to professional powerpoint presentations, Administrative Assistants deftly juggle multiple roles and responsibilities.

There is a broad general description of what Administrative Assistants do, as well as multiple variations of the job title. And every office has unique needs and systems in place for their particular specialty. Their common threads are the importance of organization, attention to detail, time management, accountability and dependability. Professional Administrative Assistants live by these principles and have learned to adapt their tasks accordingly.

With over a decade of administrative experience in offices big and small, I've compiled a list of what I think are:

The Top Fifteen Tips you need to know to be a Successful Administrative Assistant.

1. Reception Management: Even if your company has a receptionist, you'll be screening phone calls, making phone calls, greeting clients, visitors, and vendors. Your primary goal is to be the smiling face and friendly 'first impression' of your company to all who call or come in. A professional appearance and pleasant phone voice are expected. Second, minimize interruptions and deflect whomever/whatever your boss doesn't have time to deal with right now. Take accurate, detailed messages that allow your boss to save time when calling the person back.

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2. Coffee Management: You'll be responsible for keeping the coffee station stocked and clean. And maybe decorative, if you can which is nice when your customers share the station with you. Got a Kuerig or other instant, pod dropping machine? Keep options simple. Still working with the old fashioned drip brew? Be resourceful. Invest in one or two of those large dispensers like in hotel lobbies, that keep coffee hot and fresh for several hours. Everyone will appreciate the good coffee. And coffee makes people happy.

3. Go-For Management: You'll be the Go-For; go for coffee, for copies, for lunch, for bank runs, for break room goodies, for anything that's needed. In time, you will begin to anticipate the needs of your Boss, co-workers and customers and spend less time go-for-ing and more time preparing for the support they require.

4. Equipment Management: You'll be expected to know how to troubleshoot every piece of office machinery, including parts maintenance, upgrades and lease renewals. *Savvy tip: Create calendar entries for all your office equipment as well as continuing maintenance like carpet cleaning with dates, times, service needed, amount spent and all the pertinent information from the company that was used. You can quickly generate follow up reminders. At the end of the quarter or year, create a quick-view spreadsheet with the information and place in the corresponding file. Now you have a current history and accurate record.

5. Supply Management: You'll be expected to keep inventory of office supplies, bathroom supplies, kitchen/coffee/breakroom supplies and party supplies while staying in budget. Bulk stores can save the company money on certain items. Take time to research what you're buying. Amazon can save you a ton too.

6. Event Management: You may be responsible for coordinating off-site events, like industry shows, fairs or expos. Also, you may be tasked with all the 'office party' planning. This can include celebrations for promotions or reaching goals, birthdays, anniversaries - the work kind, wedding/baby, and retirement/leaving occasions. Be sure to establish a budget with your boss prior to planning. This can present you with a great opportunity to showcase your creative side and cost-cutting skills.

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7. Agenda Management: You'll be scheduling appointments, conferences, lunches, meetings and rearranging all of the above effectively due to unforeseen circumstances. Some offices require you to make travel arrangements. Use a travel agency to assist you in saving time, money and frustration.

8. Presentation Management: For prospective clients or new employees you'll be responsible for selling your company's accomplishments, awards, future growth, unique attributes and the reasons behind why this is the best place to do business or work. For meetings you'll be the note-taker, report-maker, and brilliant, creative, well organized, meeting presentation-compiler.

9. Buzz Management: You will hear most of everything that's going on with everyone, in every department. All the juicy gossip, nasty rumors and running tabs on who is - insert label here -. Even if you don't want to know any of this mostly mean, damaging information there is always a know-it-all in every office spreading the buzz. Just don't be that person. Be the person that builds others up. If there is a conflict with a coworker, talk openly and honestly and be willing to compromise in an effort to resolve the issue. Maintain your professionalism.

10. Information Management: You'll be writing office memos, emails, business correspondence, reports and responding to requests for information and data. You'll also maintain electronic and hard copy filing systems, prepare and distribute mail, and may assist with record-keeping for staff including expense reports and/or petty cash.

11. Multi-tasking Management: You'll be juggling several roles and responsibilities at once and will be expected to adapt, transform, compromise, camouflage, and implement solutions in the moment. Smile. Be gracious. You can do it.

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12. Micro-Management: Some bosses will bring every mistake they find, big or small, yours and everyone else's to you. You'll be expected to point them out to your co-workers, so she/he doesn't have to. You'll also need to relay the 'correct' procedure according to the boss, to everyone who doesn't do it their way. I mean, the 'right' way. Some bosses are all about results. They empower their employees to complete the designated task however it works best for them, as long as the assignment is handled properly. If you do make a mistake, be honest and accountable for it. Then immediately learn how to fix it and what not to do next time.

13. Time Management: Most office environments are fast paced and you'll be expected to adapt. Accuracy and efficiency are what you should strive for. Prioritize your workload so you have ample time to pay attention to the details that matter. Get creative and provide solutions or ‘hacks’ that save you and everyone else precious time that can be spent on selling your product or service and catering to your customer’s satisfaction.

14. Impact Management: Developing your unique skill set makes you indispensable to the staff you provide primary support to and vital to the overall efficiency of the office. Listening is a key component of communication. Communication is essential to success.

15. You'll need to tuck in your cape though, being the end all, be all in the office goes over much better when you're humble. Administrative Assistants are the life force of modern business offices and the more demonstrable skills you have, the more valuable you are to a prospective employer. Now, you can beef up that resume with the insider knowledge you've gained here and practice those interview skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries can range from $25k - $45k per year, depending on location and level of education and/or work experience. The BLS also reports (as of Jan. 2014) this occupation as having an overall expected job growth of twelve percent from 2012 - 2022, which is as fast as average for all occupations. More and more companies are relying on their Administrative Assistants to learn and assume tasks performed by Executive Secretaries as a means of saving money, and many managers are now performing some administrative tasks themselves.

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With approximately 12 variations of the same job title*, the subtle differences between them pertain to specific industries and levels of education. Another variable is the size of the company, and you’ll find an expanded list of responsibilities unique to each office/place of business specified in the employment ad. In the corporate world of business, there is a distinct difference between Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants and as such, a separate article.

As an Administrative Assistant, you are the support system for the office and the higher up, i.e. department manager. The foundation for Administrative positions begins with having strong typing skills and in depth knowledge and understanding of most modern computer software, database maintenance, and project management. There are degree programs available for Administrative Assistants, with coursework including classes in database management, word processing, computer applications and office etiquette. If you want to enter a specific industry, such as Law, Medical, Insurance, or Accounting for example, you’ll need higher education to get the prerequisite skills to apply for and enter that field. Entry level positions expect the minimum skills and are usually willing to train you on the job for that specific industry and office.

* Variations of the job title include: Administrative Assistant, Administrative Support, Administrative Associate, Administrative Specialist, Administrative Coordinator, Administrative Clerk, Administrative Aide, Administrative Secretary, Office Assistant, Office Clerk, Office Support, Office Aide

This article was originally published on Hubpages, February 2011 by Brande M. Eburn.


What makes a successful administrative assistant? ›

Initiative and drive – the best admin assistants aren't just reactive, responding to needs as they come in. They look for ways to create efficiencies, streamline operations and implement new programs to the benefit of themselves, their execs and the business as a whole. IT literacy – this is essential to an admin role.

What is your strength best answer for administrative assistant? ›

Example answer: “I feel confident in my ability to keep everyone organized and on schedule so we can all meet our objectives. I also feel that by taking over the majority of administrative duties, team members can delegate their time more efficiently as well as increase their work productivity.”

Which is an important skill for an admin office assistant answer? ›

Problem-solving skills

A good administrative assistant should be levelheaded, flexible, and have the resourcefulness to solve unexpected problems. From scheduling conflicts and technology failures to issues involving customers, you need to be able to find effective solutions quickly.

What are the most important goals of administrative assistant? ›

Here's a list of 12 administrative assistant performance goals examples:
  • Office management. ...
  • Human resources. ...
  • Editorial. ...
  • Travel and lodging. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Attention to detail. Attention to detail means that the administrative assistant can perform their work efficiently and accurately.
Sep 29, 2021

What are great administrative skills? ›

Ultimately, administrative skills are related to the running of a business and increasing office productivity. They include communication and organizational skills, as well as project management skills, bookkeeping skills, and time management skills.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

What can you bring to the company? ›

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 do you handle stress? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  2. Take care of yourself. ...
  3. Take care of your body. ...
  4. Make time to unwind. ...
  5. Talk to others. ...
  6. Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  7. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

What are hard skills for administrative assistant? ›

The most common hard skills found across administrative assistant job descriptions.
  • excel. 100.
  • administrative support. ...
  • correspondence. ...
  • high school diploma. ...
  • customer service. ...
  • filing. ...
  • policies. ...
  • microsoft office.

What do employers look for in administrative assistant? ›

Growth over time: Employers expect their administrative assistants to be able to handle core tasks, but they are also looking for people who like to try new things, learn new skills and take on more responsibility over time.

Why should we hire you best answer for administrative assistant? ›

Example: “I see being an administrative assistant as a crucial piece of the functioning of an entire office, and it is my job to make that happen. I am tremendously organized, enjoy making things flow more smoothly and have 10 years of experience doing this. I stay in this career because I love doing it.

How can I be an effective administrator? ›

Here are common personal characteristics excellent administrators typically have:
  1. Leads and motivates team members. ...
  2. Displays passion for an organization's mission and vision. ...
  3. Possesses high morals and ethics. ...
  4. Values collaboration and team-building. ...
  5. Strives for high-quality work. ...
  6. Makes high-level decisions.
Jun 1, 2021

What are the 5 smart goals examples? ›

Examples of SMART Goals
  • Studying. Simple Goal: I need to study more. ...
  • Writing. Simple Goal: ...
  • Reading More Books. Simple Goal: ...
  • Mastering Emotions. Simple Goal: ...
  • Exercising More. Simple Goal: ...
  • Improving Your Diet. Simple Goal: ...
  • Becoming More Productive. Simple Goal: ...
  • Time Management. Simple Goal:
Oct 14, 2022

What are values of an administrative assistant? ›

A great administrative assistant must be incredibly dependable and trustworthy. The administrative assistant typically has access to highly confidential information and is the only other person besides the top boss to be privy to it.

Why should I hire you? ›

Your skills and qualifications. If you can prove that you've got all the skills that the company is looking for in a candidate, you'll have effectively answered the question. Your passion and motivation. You can highlight how good of a company fit you'd be and how much you love working in your field or industry.

How do you answer work under pressure? ›

How to answer “How do you work under pressure?”
  1. Use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. ...
  2. Be honest. It's best to be completely honest when discussing your abilities in a job interview. ...
  3. Stay calm and collected. Interviewers often observe nonverbal cues . ...
  4. Mention your ability to manage stress.
Feb 3, 2023

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.

What motivates you in your work? ›

A great work environment

“The workplace environment often has the biggest impact on how motivated you are at work. You thrive when you are part of an upbeat, supportive environment that gets you "in the zone" that you need to be in so that you succeed.

What sets you apart from other candidates? ›

6 Ways You Can Differentiate Yourself from Other Candidates
  • Demonstrate That You are a Leader. ...
  • Show That You are Capable of Solving Problems. ...
  • Exhibit Strong Work Ethic Skills. ...
  • The Ability to Be Able to Work with a Team. ...
  • Excellent Communication Skills. ...
  • The Bottom Line.

How would you describe yourself? ›

Sample answers:

I am a hard-working and driven individual who isn't afraid to face a challenge. I'm passionate about my work and I know how to get the job done. I would describe myself as an open and honest person who doesn't believe in misleading other people and tries to be fair in everything I do.

How do you see yourself 5 years from now? ›

I would like to be financially independent and gain more time-to-time knowledge in the company's goals. And to get a respected position that is my future endeavour to easy. As a person, I want to be a more skilled, more capable person. As a professional, I see myself as handling more responsibilities.

What do you consider the most important attribute of a great admin assistant? ›

One of the most important qualities every administrative assistant should have is their attention to detail. Their primary duties all involve keeping track of information. This can come in the form of company data, filing, customer appointments, and meetings.

What is the most difficult part of being an administrative assistant? ›

Challenge #1: Their coworkers liberally assign duties and blame. Administrative assistants are often expected to fix anything that goes wrong at work, including technical difficulties with the printer, scheduling conflicts, internet connectivity problems, clogged toilets, messy break rooms, and so on.

How do I improve my administrative assistant skills? ›

Boost Your Administrative Skills With These 6 Steps
  1. Pursue training and development. Investigate your company's internal training offerings, if it has any. ...
  2. Join industry associations. ...
  3. Choose a mentor. ...
  4. Take on new challenges. ...
  5. Help a nonprofit. ...
  6. Participate in diverse projects.
Jan 25, 2023

What is the quality of a good assistant? ›

Good communication skills: This involves being able to effectively communicate with a variety of stakeholders, including colleagues, clients, and superiors. Organization skills: Being able to effectively manage your workload and keep track of important tasks and deadlines is crucial.


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