Hiring a great administrative assistant requires two things: knowing what skills, experience and personality traits are necessary to succeed in the role, and recognizing those qualities in job candidates. It sounds simple enough. But as every hiring manager knows, it’s more challenging than it sounds.
The second part of the equation — evaluating the candidate — is best accomplished through the job interview. Given the nature of this critical role, and the high demands placed upon the individual, interview questions for administrative assistants should cover a range of areas that touch equally on technical and soft skills.
What are the best administrative assistant questions to ask?
Ideally you want a range of queries that cover topics such as organizational culture, skills, 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 with your hiring decision.
Interview questions about workplace culture
Hiring people who will be comfortable in your corporate culture takes skill. 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 want to work in an environment similar to yours
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 administrative job?
3. How do you envision an administrative assistant could contribute to an organization?
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?
Examination of specific 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. Take time to think about what technical skills you need in an administrative assistant, such as Word processing and Excel familiarity; whether you’re looking for specific industry experience; and if there are planning, communication, purchasing or customer service skills that would be valuable in this role.
6. Why do you think you’re well-suited for a position as an administrative assistant, and 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 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?
Reflections on relationships and personalities
An important role of administrative assistants is to support you and other team members, which means they may have to deal with a 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?
Deeper dive into work styles
Managers often don’t know the work style of candidates until they’re on the job, but it’s worth asking 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 and so on.
16. Can you walk me through a typical day in your current/most recent position?
17. Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors at once? If so, how did you juggle each person’s priorities?
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?
More administrative assistant interview questions
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?
Finally, don’t forget to ask:
25. Do you have any questions for us?
Finding top job candidates to interview
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 quickly arrange an interview or placement.