With our list of admin assistant interview questions, you won’t need to scramble for the right question. If you find yourself stuck during interviews because you don’t know what to say, look no further. We’ve covered hard skills, behavior, and soft skills in this new post.
Top hard skills interview questions for hiring administrative assistants
Hard skills are skills that you can learn at school or on the job. They are the technical skills that you would see on a job post. You will have a list of requirements in this area, and they are the ones you should ask about first. They are easier to verify because they are quantifiable, so it saves you time upfront.
1. What office productivity software (like Time Doctor) are you most comfortable using, and can you provide examples of how you’ve used them in your previous roles?
This question will show you how versatile the candidate is. It will also show you if they have the tools you mentioned on your job post front of mind. By sharing examples, you will know that they are not just reading off a list. They should also know what this type of tool is, and not mix it up with other common admin tools.
2. What communication tools and platforms have you used in your previous roles, and how did you utilize them for effective communication?
Some admin assistant interview questions will be similar, like this one is to the question above. The point is to check the specific tools, of course, but also if the candidate answers differently.
3. What is your typing speed, and how do you ensure accuracy in your typing?
This is a good example of balance when you’re asking questions. You want them to be fast at typing, but you also want them to be accurate. If you ask only about the first part, they can give you an impressive answer without backing it up. The second part of the question will make them think about adding accuracy into their computation. Then you get a more accurate understanding of how fast they really are, including time for correcting mistakes.
4. Describe your experience with managing calendars. How do you handle scheduling conflicts and prioritize appointments?
Booking appointments, blocking out time, and moving things around are common admin tasks. Not everyone can handle these with finesse, though. Asking questions about these types of ordinary tasks is important to understand their level of expertise. If you like, you can even specify what type of calendar you’re talking about. Or, you can identify it based on the person they will be assisting. This will make their answers more specific, giving you more information.
5. Can you discuss your experience with data entry and database management? What systems are you familiar with?
Data entry and database management are also common tasks, so the above applies. On top of that, knowing the systems they have used is also important. This question helps you to understand what they are used to and if they will handle your system well.
6. What types of documents are you experienced in preparing, and what software do you typically use for these tasks?
Every office handles documentation of some kind. Not every office prepares the same types of documents, though. You may be used to the paperwork that flows through your office. Don’t assume that every potential hire is used to handling the same types of documents. The same foes for the tools they use. You want to know how comfortable they will be integrating into your office and systems.
7. Do you have experience with budgeting or handling expense reports? Can you provide an example of how you’ve managed this in the past?
This is an expansion of the question above. Moreover, it asks for a specific real life example to get good details. (If you need more help with finaincial reports, check out EcomBalance!)
8. Describe a situation where you had to troubleshoot a technical issue with office equipment or software. How did you resolve it?
More than just how the candidate handles problems, you want to know if they can handle technical issues. Are they capable of solving the issue themselves? To what degree? If they can’t, do they know the right person to go to for help?
9. Have you ever been responsible for making travel arrangements? How do you ensure all details are covered?
This doesn’t have to be travel, but is an example of a complex task that has a lot of details connected to it. The point is to know how good the prospect is at not letting things fall through any cracks.
10. Tell me about a time you were involved in project coordination. What role did you play, and what tools did you use to stay organized?
Project coordination is a higher-level admin task, so not all jobs require it. Whether you are hiring for this or not, it’s good to know if the potential hire is capable of it. Or, maybe they can grow into a role like this if there’s an opportunity for it in the future.
Top behavioral admin assistant interview questions
Any good hire will have more than hard skills. You want to make sure they will function well on teams. This means checking how the respond in various situations.
1. Can you describe a time when you had to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously? How did you prioritize and manage your time?
Nothing can rattle someone’s cage quite like multitasking. Even for those who are used to doing more than one thing at the same time, it can be stressful. Multitasking is not something we humans do naturally – we just get used to handling it. So, this question will show you how cool the candidate will be when things get hot in the kitchen. Primarily, you want to know that they will not drop the ball.
2. Tell me about a challenging problem you encountered in a previous role and how you resolved it.
This is also a stressful situation, but different from troubleshooting a technical issue. Some people can detach and handle software issues but come undone when it’s interpersonal. Note what type of problem they bring up, and if they go back to the technical issue to avoid discussing a fresh one!
3. Give an example of a time when your attention to detail prevented a mistake at work.
Accuracy is a vital skill for a good administrative assistant. You want to know that they truly have good attention to detail. This is one of the admin assistant interview questions that helps you see it in action.
4. How do you adapt to last-minute requests in your work?
Some people can handle complex issues, but not if they happen suddenly. This is why we think it’s important to ask about last-minute requests. Just looking at their reaction when you ask this can tell you a lot!
5. Can you share an experience where you had to adapt to a significant change in the workplace? How did you handle it?
In a similar vein, some people might have trouble adjusting to big changes. This is very different from being able to cope with issues that pop up here and there.
6. Can you provide an example where you took the initiative to improve a process or solve a problem at work?
This is one of my personal favorite admin assistant interview questions. This will help you learn about hidden talents and skills a candidate might have. It also shows you their confidence level and helps you build rapport as you celebrate with them. Another key element to note is if their boast matches the value they delivered. If they seem arrogant, they may not be the best choice. If they are too humble, you can work with them so they won’t be too shy to make future contributions.
7. Describe how you organize and prioritize your tasks in a typical workday.
You need to know if the prospect is a self starter or someone in need of hand-holding. Always go for the former – you are hiring an assistant to help you stay organized, not the other way around!
8. Share an instance where you had to make a difficult decision quickly. What was the outcome?
This is one of the admin assistant interview questions you want to pay close attention to. If you have someone who can think on their toes and also make good decisions, you have found a gem. Most people will freeze or choose poorly.
9. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed at work?
Learning about how a candidate handles hurdles is vital. You want to know that they will tackle problems in a healthy way for themselves and everyone else they work with.
Top soft skills interview questions for hiring administrative assistants
Hiring soft skills are just as important as hard skills. These are all the interpersonal aspects that make relationships with coworkers and clients flow smoothly.
1. How would you describe your communication style and how has it been effective in your administrative roles?
Good communication is essential. Everyone at Outsource School knows that this is one of Nate and Connor’s top, non-negotiable qualities in any prospect! Communication can be systematized, but also has personal elements to it. You want to know that you can communicate with your assistant easily because you will be talking a lot. Your assistant needs to be able to adapt to you quickly and understand you very well.
2. What approach do you take to build relationships with colleagues and clients in a new workplace?
People engage in very different ways, and that’s not bad. This is just part of everyone’s uniqueness. Not all of these ways are suitable for the workplace, though. Check to make sure they are behaving professionally. In addition, you want to learn about them personally through this question. Their answer will show a lot about their character and personality.
3. Describe a situation where you had to explain complex information to someone who didn’t have your expertise. How did you ensure they understood?
There’s a delicate balance sometimes when interacting with people. This situation will show you how intuitive and caring the candidate is. You don’t want the other person to feel like you’re either talking over their head or obviously dumbing things down. It also shows how patient they are and how they adjust in what can be a challenging interaction.
4. Tell me about a time you had to collaborate with a difficult colleague. How did you manage the relationship and the project?
As above, their response to a challenging interaction can tell you a lot about them. The best administrative assistants will always know how to work well with others and treat them with respect. This real life scenario will give you specific details that will help you understand their responses even better.
5. How do you handle situations where a colleague or client is frustrated or upset?
Similarly, someone who may not be generally difficult but is currently upset can be a challenge. Pay close attention to how they might change their tone or tactics for communicating with this person. Ask follow-up questions is you need to about how they might escalate this concern to get help. Or. if they might take it outside of that specific conversation and start some ugly gossip.
6. What role do you typically play when working in a team?
The role that any candidate is used to will inform how they perform in that role. It can also affect how they will do in a different role. Understand their comfort zones and if they are willing and able to step outside of them.
7. What strategies do you use to ensure you provide excellent customer service and maintain professionalism in all your workplace interactions?
This and similar admin assistant interview questions will give you greater insight into a prospect’s true attitude. Clear strategies will show that they are driven to serve with excellence.
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The role of administrative assistant may seem very ordinary and uncomplicated. Finding really good help, however, is not that simple or easy. This is why we put together these interview questions for you. They are the best ones we have used ourselves at Outsource School to find those hidden gems. We hope they help you so the same!