Administrative Assistant Job Interview Tips
Administrative assistant job interviews are the classic office job interviews. They’re usually behavioral interviews, including common interview questions. You need to concentrate on performance, information quality and presentation.
The fact that these interviews contain a lot of standard questions tends to make people a bit complacent and, worse, lazy, when answering questions. People wonder afterwards why they didn’t get the job. It’s because the people who get the jobs give much better answers.
Here are some fundamental tips for administrative assistant job interviews:
- Don’t give a “recital” of a stock answer: You can’t stand out from other applicants like that. Think about your answer and make it worth listening to, not a series of quotes from old “how to” interview guides.
- Listen closely to the interview questions: A slight alteration to a standard question can make it quite different. The question “How do you work in a team?” is very familiar. The actual question being asked, however, may be modified into “How do you work in a team with people with disabilities?” It’s not the same question and can’t be answered in the same way.
- Give meaningful, relevant examples of your work when asked: Several questions will ask you for examples of your previous work. Make absolutely sure your examples relate to the position. Your examples should show clear links to the position and essential skills.
- Be specific in answering skills questions: All administrative assistant jobs are different, but they usually contain particularly important core skills that you must demonstrate. You need to show superior levels of skills as much as possible. When you respond to a question, use descriptors that identify your skill levels and show strong job values to the employer.
Administrative Assistant Job Interview Questions
These are some of the common questions, the issues involved and sample answers:
1. “How do you prioritize your work?”
Issues: This is an organizational skills question, very important in administrative assistant jobs.
Answer: I use a structured approach, prioritizing on a scheduled basis, and monitoring workloads. I always adapt my priorities to deal with urgent jobs to make sure they’re done as soon as possible.
2. “Give us an example of problem solving in your administrative assistant job.”
Issues: This question is actually about several areas of work, including the type, scope, and levels of responsibility involved, as well as your methods for solving problems.
“We had a problem with trying to deal with a large amount of extra work that came in unexpectedly from a new client. It involved setting up a new account and processing several large amounts of new data before the cutoff date for the audit. Management needed it done immediately. I suggested we reschedule our data entry, and we took it in turns to load the new data. We got it done two days early, and we were also able to keep ourselves up to date with our regular work.
3. “This is a hypothetical question: What do you do if you’re doing a report and you see errors in the data?”
Issues: Hypothetical questions are becoming more common, particularly in mid-level administrative assistant jobs. They’re necessary to test knowledge and situational awareness.
“First I define the problem, identifying what’s wrong as far as possible. I then notify management immediately, to warn them about the situation. I suggest we use our backups to source the data.”