An ideal Administrative Assistant is detail-oriented and highly organized. They should demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and the desire to be of assistance to others across a range of duties. Look for a candidate who is experienced with office equipment such as phone systems and copiers, software to track tasks and create documents and spreadsheets, and basic internet skills to source information, pay bills, or the like. A polite and professional approach in person, on the phone, or via email is essential for maintaining your company’s image and reputation.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Administrative Assistant interview questions to help you get started:
1. Tell me about a work project you contributed to that gave you a great deal of personal satisfaction. Why did you feel that way?
What you want to hear: A valuable Administrative Assistant provides seamless professional support to staff and improves efficiency by their attentiveness to others. An ideal candidate will mention a work experience motivated by supporting their co-workers and giving productive assistance to the team.
Red flag: Listen closely to what satisfies your candidate when contributing to workplace projects. Candidates driven solely by personal gain, and not by team effort, may decrease team productivity and cause conflict between staff.
2. What do you look for in a supervisor to help you maximize your productivity?
What you want to hear: Candidates may mention different answers depending on their professional experience and personality. Common answers include requests like direct and clear feedback on work performance, showing genuine appreciation for their service, and providing staff with the tools and information needed to succeed.
3. What contribution do you feel the Administrative Assistant makes to the company?
What you want to hear: This question allows you to determine if the candidate sees themselves as an important member of the company team. The Administrative Assistant is essential to the smooth operations of the organization, providing the support that enhances co-worker productivity and efficiency. The more likely your candidate sees the value in their position, the more likely they are to be attentive to, and excel in the performance of, their work.
4. What techniques do you use to handle workplace stress and remain productive?
What you want to hear: There are a variety of tools and techniques available to help reduce stress in the workplace. A candidate may mention digital aides like guided meditation apps or time management software, or behavioral activities like reading breaks or exercises. It is important to hear clear ideas (digital or otherwise) that show they are self-aware of stress levels and the impact it can have on productivity.
5. Tell me about a time you had to adapt to a new company policy. What was the policy and how did the policy impact your role?
What you want to hear: Companies are constantly evolving and growing, and so too are the policies that drive administrative and business activities. Whether due to a company merger, upgraded productivity software, or new management personnel, policy change is all but inevitable from time to time. Listen for a specific example when your candidate experienced a policy change in the workplace. Did they fully understand the business goals behind the new policy? Did they see the change as a positive experience, or merely an inconvenience? Were they enthusiastic about any required additional training? Did the policy change have a direct or indirect impact on their day-to-day activities?
Red flag: The appearance of inflexibility when it comes to organizational change is a major red flag. An Administrative Assistant who fails to embrace the implementation of new policies is a risk for extending training time, negatively affecting individual and group compliance, and limiting desired policy outcomes.
6. Tell me about a situation when you handled information in a discreet way.
What you want to hear: Administrative Assistants are often required to be discreet when handling information, making appointments, or the like. Listen for a candidate who can describe a situation they encountered, the reason(s) they thought discretion was needed, and the steps they took to proceed with discretion. For example, a candidate might say “My boss asked me to schedule separate facility tours on a Monday with two competitive customers. Recognizing that it was important the customers do not overlap during their visits I made sure to schedule one tour early in the morning and the other tour in the late afternoon.”
Red flag: An Administrative Assistant who fails to understand the importance of discretion and how to maintain it is a risk for compromising the company in costly ways, and will require additional training to develop the skill.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Administrative Assistant position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Recognize the importance of the role to smooth company operations
- Are a good personal and professional fit with your supervisory staff
- Can multitask and manage stress effectively
Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors in your role as Administrative Assistant? Do you feel that you were effective in that arrangement?
What office technology and software are you familiar with?
How do you ensure accuracy in your work?
Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team? Why?
What do you consider to be your most valuable professional strength and how do you feel it will help you in this role?
Describe a work problem you had to resolve in your previous job. How did you handle it?
Describe a time you helped a coworker in the workplace.
If you are asked to complete a task you believe is not achievable as requested because of time or resource limitations, what would you do?
Have you ever had to deal with a demanding or rude client? How did you handle it?
What do you enjoy most about being an Administrative Assistant?