Administrative Assistant Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

by Emma Rowlands

Administrative Assistant

There are a vast number of industries you can work in if you're a skilled administrative assistant. These can include healthcare, education, finance, property and many more. In fact, the majority of businesses, no matter their size, require a certain amount of admin to be completed in order to ensure the smooth running of day to day activities. This is why administrators are regarded as one of the pillars of a well-constructed company.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there's concern that clerical jobs like these are the slowest growing because of the development of new technologies that can replace many manual tasks. That's why it's important to shine during any interview and prove that it's worth investing in a person, not a computer.

The following administrative assistant interview questions provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate why you're the best person for the job.

How Would You Describe Your Communication Style?

When interviewing for an administrative position, it's paramount that you can display both verbal and written communication skills at an advanced level. This should include good spelling and grammar, meticulous attention to detail when writing emails as well as a friendly telephone manner. An administrative assistant is communicating constantly, whether it be responding to letters and emails, making phone calls to clients, taking down accurate voicemail transcripts or dealing with a delicate customer complaint. When asked about your ‘style’, you will need to explain the approach you take to any of these forms of communication. Forbes Magazine sums up four styles of communication – analytical, functional, personal and intuitive. Instead of picking just one of these, your potential employer will be more impressed if you demonstrate an ability to interchange between two or three styles depending on the situation.

What Methods Do You Use to Prioritize Your Workload?

Every administrative assistant has a workload that's sky high, and many pending projects will have tight deadlines. This means that organizational skills are a must, as well as a knack for prioritization.

To answer this question, discuss your process. Do you use a particular program such as Outlook to manage a personal calendar? Do you utilize paper trays to sort incoming work from outgoing work? Talk about your preferred methods and how well they have worked for you in the past.

Furthermore, it's good to explain how you differentiate between an urgent, important or non-essential piece of work. For example, an urgent project may be one that has a next-day deadline and extremely negative consequences if it is not completed in time. It's essential that you can demonstrate this understanding during your interview.

Which Projects Have You Undertaken Using Excel?

You might find that one administrative assistant interview question is specific to a computer program such as excel. This is so your potential employer can be sure of your computer skills, or to ascertain any training needs.

Think of at least three examples of how you would typically use this software. For example, to create and maintain financial graphs, to help present spending trends and to build a customer database. Talk about these activities with enthusiasm while providing reassurance that you're competent and knowledgeable.  

What Is Your Understanding of Data Protection?

An administrative assistant becomes privy to all sorts of confidential information. This can include employee personnel files, customer complaints, senior management emails and sensitive board meeting notes. A report by Management Matters reiterates that administrative assistants should ‘rise above’ office politics or any personal matters and maintain strict confidentiality procedures to keep information and data safe. It's best to familiarize yourself with the latest data protection laws relating to your sector and try to mention some of these in your answer. For example, if you're interviewing for an administrative healthcare role, you may wish to talk specifically about healthcare data protection. Remember, a breach of data protection can cause great difficulty for any company, so you must be vigilant in your explanation of how data protection laws work.

In order to deliver at an interview, it's always best to prepare your answers in advance. Your aim is to present yourself as confident, able and efficient so that a prospective employer feels satisfied that you can manage some of the most detail-oriented aspects of the business.

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