25 of the Best Interview Questions for Administrative Assistants

By Robert Half on February 23, 2019 at 11:30am

Hiring a great administrative assistant requires two things: knowing exactly what skills, experience and personality traits are necessary to succeed in the role and fit in at your organization — and recognizing those qualities in administrative candidates. It sounds simple enough. But as every hiring manager knows, it’s trickier than it sounds.

The second part of the equation — evaluating the candidate — is best accomplished through the job interview. Your choice of interview questions for administrative assistant candidates directly determines how much information you’re able to glean.

What are the best administrative assistant questions to ask?

Ideally you want a range of queries that cover topics such as fit with the organizational culture, skills and experience, workplace relationships, work style and enthusiasm.

The following 25 interview questions for administrative assistants can give you a fuller picture of the candidate and, ultimately, help you succeed with one of your most important hires.

Administrative assistant questions about fit 

Hiring people who fit your corporate culture and want to work in an office setting similar to yours takes skill. More than six in 10 human resources managers surveyed by OfficeTeam said they had misjudged a candidate’s fit with their company’s work environment, and two-thirds said their firm had lost an employee who was not suited for the work environment. Be sure to clearly communicate what it’s like to work at your organization, and ask questions that shed light on whether the candidate would be a good fit.

1. What comes to mind when you think of our company? Why do you want to work here?

2. What appeals to you about this particular administrative job?

3. How do you envision an administrative assistant being able to contribute to our firm?

4. In which type of office environment do you excel most?

5. Why did you leave your last administrative assistant position? Or: Why are you looking to leave your current administrative assistant position, and what would have convinced you to stay?

Interview questions about skills and experience

Unlike your long-ago predecessors, you’re probably looking for administrative professionals who take on more responsibilities than typing and answering the phone. But what skills do you need in an administrative assistant? Specific industry experience? Word processing or Excel familiarity? Planning, communication, purchasing and customer service skills?

6. Why do you think you’re well-suited for a position as an administrative assistant? For this job in particular?

7. What special skills do you possess that will help you do well at our company?

8. How would you describe your comfort level when it comes to (a particular software program)? What is the latest version of this software that you have used?

9. Give me examples of how you’ve used (the software program) on the job. What advanced functionalities are you familiar with?

10. What would you consider your biggest professional accomplishment to date? Your biggest professional failure?

Questions about relationships with managers and coworkers

An important role of administrative assistants is as support staff, which means they may have to deal with a wide range of personalities and priorities. Is it important to you to find someone who is easygoing or someone more assertive? Respectful? Problem-solving? Diplomatic? Ask questions to determine whether the candidate has the characteristics you want in the workplace.

11. What type of supervisor helps bring out your best performance?

12. Can you share a piece of constructive feedback a manager has given you? What adjustments, if any, did you make because of that feedback?

13. Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors at once? If so, how did you juggle each person’s priorities?

14. Can you tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in as an administrative assistant and how you handled it?

15. Can you describe the most challenging colleague you’ve had to work with? How did you handle that relationship?

Administrative assistant interview questions about work style

This is another area where you’ll want to find someone who is a good fit for you and your staff. Managers often don’t know the work style of candidates until they’re on the job, but it’s worth getting an idea ahead of time about the way they take direction, their communication style, how they prefer to structure their day and whether they’re adaptive, dependable, efficient, able to multitask, trustworthy and so on.

16. Can you walk me through a typical day in your current/most recent position?

17. How do you prioritize projects when you are juggling several tasks with similar deadlines?

18. What is your first step when given a large project to manage? How would you organize it?

19. Can you describe a challenging project you were assigned in the past and how you approached it?

20. Are there any tools, equipment or procedures you would replace or change at your most recent/current job? If so, what changes would you make and why?

Questions about the administrative profession

It’s important to find out if the person you’re interviewing is serious about being an administrative assistant and understands what the job entails. You want someone who is genuinely interested in the role — and also in your company.

21. What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on as an administrative assistant?

22. What do you enjoy most about administrative work?

23. How have you changed the administrative assistant position at past companies?

24. What trends do you see impacting the administrative assistant role in the future?

25. Do you have any questions for us?

Finding administrative assistant candidates

Of course, having the right interview questions for administrative assistant candidates works best when you have top job seekers to interview. We can help make the process of finding and hiring an administrative assistant easier. You can see profiles of skilled administrative assistant candidates in your area using our online database. Tell us who interests you, and we can arrange an interview or placement ASAP.

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