What Questions Do I Prepare for an Administrative Assistant Interview?
From asking about specific automated tasks to discovering high-stress day strategies, here are nine answers to the question, “What are the most effective interview questions for an administrative assistant, either virtual or in-person?”
- Which Administrative Tasks Would You Want to Automate?
- What is Your Email Inbox Strategy?
- How Do You Maintain Confidentiality and Data Privacy?
- What is a Time Management Technique You Abide By?
- What is the Most Difficult Aspect of Your Position?
- What is Your Approach to Learning New IT Systems?
- How Would You Prioritize Conflicting Deadlines?
- What Are Your Preferred Tools and Platforms?
- Describe When You Had a High Workload and How You Coped
Which Administrative Tasks Would You Want to Automate?
Knowing whether a candidate is adept at identifying ways to automate tasks is vital for ensuring their productivity and keeping them for the long term. While there are certain aspects of every job that are just plain boring, administrative tasks are tedious and repetitive, leading to high turnover rates.
And when an applicant shows an eagerness to streamline the day-to-day, it shows they’re looking to do more than answer the phones and schedule meetings. It shows which aspects of the job they enjoy the most and how they would like to shape the role going forward.
Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder, SwagMagic
What is Your Email Inbox Strategy?
Ask an administrative assistant what their strategy is for email inboxes. You want to ensure that the new hire is organized, especially for your inbox. How do they sort emails and follow up in a timely manner? If they don’t have a strategy, they may not be a fit for the role and you should evaluate other candidates.
Ann McFerran, CEO, Glamnetic
How Do You Maintain Confidentiality and Data Privacy?
As an administrative assistant, it is important to ensure the confidentiality and data privacy of an organization. A great interview question to assess how well a candidate understands the importance of this is “How do you ensure you maintain confidentiality and data privacy in your work as an administrative assistant?”
This question gives the interviewer a better idea of how well the candidate knows the rules and procedures that must be followed when handling confidential information. Also, it gives them a chance to see how well the candidate can follow these rules and procedures.
This is especially important for virtual administrative assistants, since they will access and handle confidential data remotely. By asking this question, you can identify if the candidate can keep confidential information safe, regardless of the environment.
Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute
What is a Time Management Technique You Abide By?
Do you have a time management technique that you follow religiously? An administrative assistant’s role requires one to juggle various tasks covering diverse thematic functions. By asking this question, the interviewer will know how efficiently the candidate manages their time and if there is too much supervision needed.
When answering this question, you need not stick to just the popular techniques. Share a custom-made technique that has worked or works for you. This will make you come across as someone who is creative, authentic, and takes initiative. Ensure you answer the question in detail and provide an example explaining the “before and after” of using the technique.
Tanisha Guin, Deputy Manager, Social Impact Consultant, and Career Coach, ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth
What is the Most Difficult Aspect of Your Position?
What do you consider to be the most difficult aspect of the administrative assistant position? One technique for finding out a candidate’s weaknesses is to ask them this question. How the candidate responds to this question can reveal whether they can identify and develop their areas for growth.
If the participant can comment on the issue they expect to encounter in their response to this question, the interviewer can mention a particular situation that they found difficult and explain what they did to get through that difficulty and achieve success. The interviewer gets to observe whether the candidate can continue to perform in tough conditions.
Georgi Todorov, Founder, ThriveMyWay
What is Your Approach to Learning New IT Systems?
Increasingly, administrative assistants are required to become adept at myriad IT systems and software packages. Each organization maintains a unique software stack, and not every candidate will be well-versed in your company’s chosen IT providers.
Rather than holding out for candidates who already have expertise in your company’s software stack, look for candidates who can get up to speed quickly. By asking candidates how they adapt to new IT systems and software packages, you can explore their approach to learning, a far more powerful skill.
This question is essential even for candidates who are accustomed to your company’s IT systems, as often organizations change providers and staff are required to re-learn these processes. Last, a sound answer to this question will highlight a commitment to lifelong learning, an essential mindset for anyone looking to build a successful career.
Ben Schwencke, Business Psychologist, Test Partnership
How Would You Prioritize Conflicting Deadlines?
As an attorney, having an administrative assistant is helpful for managing multiple tasks at once. Asking this question can help determine if a candidate can manage their resources to effectively complete multiple tasks in a timely manner. It also provides insight into the candidate’s organizational skills, which is key for any administrative assistant role.
Leo Vaisburg, Managing Partner, Amazon Suspension Lawyer
What Are Your Preferred Tools and Platforms?
This question allows candidates to show off their mastery of various tools and platforms they are familiar with. To the interviewer, the answer provides firsthand information about the candidate’s skills.
Tech tools and platforms are integral to an administrative assistant’s portfolio. Whether communication tools help them coordinate with teams and clients or collaboration tools make their job easier, an experienced assistant will have a long list.
After all, every client and company has their own preferred tools, enabling assistants to master a variety of platforms. More importantly, the answer to this question will help you learn more about the on-the-job expertise the candidate has gained and if this expertise matches your requirements.
Ariav Cohen, VP of Marketing and Sales, Proprep
Describe When You Had a High Workload and How You Coped
Working as an administrative assistant, virtual or in-person, may require the ability to manage and prioritize a high workload independently. By asking a candidate for a specific example of when they have had to manage a high workload and what strategies they used to cope, the interviewer can determine two things:
- What does the candidate actually classify as a high workload
- Do they have strategies and methods that involve planning, prioritizing work, and using tools and technology to manage their workload?
I recommend always asking a behavioral interview question that demands an evidence-based response rather than asking a generic or scenario-based question.
Leah Lambart, Career and Interview Coach, Relaunch Me