8 Common Administrative Assistant Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 September 2022

Published 31 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations of all types rely on administrative assistants to support their teams and help run the office. Knowing the typical questions to expect during an administrative assistant interview can help you prepare your answers and stand out as a strong candidate to the interviewer. It can also help you feel more confident and prepared for your interview. In this article, we discuss some administrative assistant interview questions and provide tips for answering these questions with examples.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

Administrative assistant interview questions

Here are eight common administrative assistant questions you may be asked in an interview:

1. What do you think the role of administrative assistant serves in the office?

Recruiters may ask this question to establish how much you know about the role of an administrative assistant and their duties in the office. This helps them to understand how you're likely to view your job responsibilities. This question can also help the employer learn whether you view yourself as a part of the team and if you enjoy the duties of an administrative assistant. When answering this question, try to reference the common responsibilities of an admin assistant and discuss why the role is important in the office.

Example: 'I think the administrative assistant is an important member of the office. They help to make sure everything runs smoothly and carry out essential everyday tasks such as filing, organisation and maintaining schedules. They also provide key support to colleagues by delivering important information when needed.'

Related: What does an administrative assistant do?

2. What tools and software do you use to stay organised?

Recruiters expect administrative assistants to be highly organised. Whether it's scheduling meetings, having documents ready on time or meeting deadlines, good organisational skills are essential to performing the role well. Knowledge of project management software and tools can help you improve your work performance, and it also gives the employer confidence that you're able to start work with minimal training. When answering this question, think about which project management and calendar tools and computer software you have experience with from previous roles or in your personal life.

Example: 'In my previous role, I synched my agenda with scheduling software, so I could easily move between my email, my calendar and to my to-do list. I'm also extremely proficient using common office software.'

3. What do you enjoy most about being an administrative assistant?

Interviewers ask this question to find out what you like about being an administrative assistant and how much you enjoy the work that you do. People who enjoy their jobs are typically more efficient and productive in the office. When answering this question, mention one or two things that you most enjoy about being an administrative assistant and use previous experiences to back up your answer.

Example: 'What I enjoy the most about being an administrative assistant is knowing everything that goes on in the office and being the key person to ensure everything runs smoothly. In my previous role, I always really enjoyed helping my team to plan big events and meetings.'

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

4. What skills do you consider the most important to the role of an administrative assistant and why?

How you answer this question can help the recruiter determine what skills you consider to be most important to the role and why, how you've successfully used those skills in the past and how you would use the same skills to contribute to the success of your team. It's a good idea to use the STAR technique when answering this question to demonstrate how you've used key administrative assistant skills in the past and how you'll use them to support this company.

Example: 'I consider my role as an administrative assistant essential for ensuring an office runs smoothly. To do this, an administrative assistant needs to have excellent organisational, communication and time-management skills. In my previous role, I was responsible for managing the schedule of four executives. I did this by using a custom scheduling program to book appointments and meetings for each executive. I then communicated their schedules to them weekly via e-mail and daily in-person during our morning meeting. This helped to keep the entire office on schedule. I would apply these same skills to make sure your office runs smoothly.'

Related: Administrative Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Describe a situation in which you needed to be discrete in your role as an administrative assistant and how you handled it.

Administrative assistants often have access to a lot of confidential information about both the company and its clients. This question helps the employer determine if you can handle sensitive or complex situations while being discreet and maintaining confidentiality. Use the STAR technique when answering this question to discuss a specific situation in which discretion and confidentiality were critical and describe how you handled the situation.

Example: 'In my previous role as a human resources assistant, I supported the HR director and became aware of imminent redundancies. Even though I had many friends who worked for the company, I understood that confidentiality was imperative to maintaining peace and structure within the workplace. While this was a stressful time for everyone in our department, I maintained discretion and the rest of the staff were informed at the appropriate time through official channels.'

6. What do you think is the most challenging part of the administrative assistant role?

This question is another way of asking about your weaknesses. How you answer this question tells the interviewer whether you're able to identify and develop areas for improvement. When answering this question, use the STAR technique to describe a specific situation you found challenging and describe what you did to successfully overcome that challenge.

Example: 'In my previous role, I realised that I sometimes struggled to prioritise tasks if I didn't use a clear schedule to manage my time. I wanted to get everything done straight away and had difficulty putting things to one side or making someone wait for me to complete a task. I overcame this by creating an organised schedule for myself to follow that prioritises my tasks based on their deadline. I use an electronic calendar which allows me to plan my days and helps me stay on track.'

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?"

7. What style of management do you prefer?

This question helps the recruiter establish your level of independence in the workplace and helps them decide if their management style supports your work preferences. Administrative assistants need to be independent enough to keep the office running smoothly but, at the same time, it's also important that their preferred management style aligns with their supervisor's. Make sure you're honest when answering this question to certify the job is a good fit for both you and the employer.

Example: 'I prefer a manager who gives me the information I need to carry out my role and who sets clear expectations but also trusts me to complete my tasks without micromanaging. As I'm organised and efficient, I'm good at managing my time, and I don't need someone to check in regularly to make sure I'm productive. I also appreciate occasional feedback that lets me know how I'm doing and gives suggestions for improvement if needed.'

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Management Styles

8. How would you approach a situation where you're given a task but not provided with complete instructions?

This question helps the employer determine how you approach complex situations that don't have clear instructions. The interviewer may be looking to find out what research skills you might use to find out how to do something and if you're comfortable asking for clarification and assistance when you need it. When answering this question, make sure you demonstrate that you're able to research an issue on your own and ask for clarification when needed.

Example: 'If I was given a task and didn't receive clear instructions, I would first consider whether I could get the information I would need to complete the task by conducting simple research such as doing an online search. If I still need further instruction, I would ask the person who assigned me the task if they could provide clarification. I would ensure that I fully understand what needs to be done and when the deadline for the task is before I start working on it.'

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