Career Advice

6 Key Skills for Administrative Assistant Interview Questions

min read
Mikaela Thompson

First off, we answer — what is an Administrative Assistant? These are personnel that make up the core of an office. They make everything smooth and running well and ensure the functionality of an office is kept intact. Like secretaries, they prepare documents which can include typing them up too and also schedule meetings and ensure all files are kept in order. Organisation is important to the role and so is customer service. Even if answering the phone internally only, being polite and professional is important to maintaining good relationships within the office with colleagues.

Below we've highlighted the key skills an employer would be looking for and how you can relay to them that you have what it takes to be their next Administrative Assistant.

Be Adaptable

THere can be challenges along the way where you will need to use your intuition and initiative to adapt to a new circumstance. As there can be multiple people and even situations involved, you want to be able to show that you can adjust to different individuals successfully while fulfilling tasks. You can do this by way of sharing examples.

Be a Team Player

As an administrative assistant, you will need to work effectively as a team player. Show your strengths in interpersonal skills to work with others and your ability to build relationships that will make future interactions smooth, so that you can successfully contribute as a team or group.

Use the Tailoring Method

Comb through the job description and focus on the areas of the job that they are looking for solutions to problems. Mention how you can contribute to the team and give examples of past scenarios that are similar to show how you have handled those situations or challenges. This will show that you are considering the needs of the organisation and you can slot in your skills and abilities that show relevance to the role which is applicable to the organisation.

  1. Communication Skills

There are many various forms of communications you would have and will be using. Talk about the different programs or platforms you have used and how you use them to the best of your ability. For instance, you can mention Outlook and Gmail according to which one you actually use, if not both, and discuss how you use them differently for 'x' purposes. In either case, show that you are effective at being articulate and this goes the same for verbal communication.

  1. Attention to Detail

This is particularly important for administrative assistants. Proofreading and spotting errors in your work is vital, especially when handling particularly sensitive or confidential documents. Give examples of how you go about doing this and you can even slot in how you have spotted other people's mistakes and made amendments accordingly.

  1. Planning & Organisation

Another very important trait is being organised. Show that you know how to prioritise and how you go about doing that. This could be by timeline, deadlines, available resources or end goal targets. You want to show that you can be coordinated and that you can multitask as well. In challenging situations, you also want to show that you can reprioritise quickly according to fluctuating demands.

  1. Information Management

How do you collect data or gather information to contribute towards an assignment or goal? Do you use Excel or Google Sheets or both? Do you work in real-time online or offline and what are the advantages of either. Do you know how to apply macros and pivot tables when it comes to numbers? How familiar are you with Excel formulas? Numbers aside, do you have a system for record keeping and what were you responsible for. Most of all, how do you ensure that the information you have gathered is accurate. Is it from a certified source for instance? Look at your sources and mention credible ones that will show you can handle important information.

  1. Problem Solving

This is part of your every day no matter how small the problem is. The best way to show your competence is to describe a complicated problem you had to solve and how you dealt with it. How did you understand it and gather relevant information necessary to solve it? Were there any resources involved and did you need to ask for help from others as part of teamwork to get to the root of the problem.

  1. Customer Service Skills

Part of your role may well be to provide some customer service. Whether this is internal to colleagues or external to business partners or company vendors for instance, you will need to relay that you have the professional handling and polite tone to handle correspondence. This could be via telephone and you can show that you know the right questions to ask to get to the bottom of a customer's wants or needs. Then you can talk about how you meet those wants and needs.

The Takeaway

All-in-all the role of an administrative assistant as part of a company or bigger organisation can be an important cog in the wheel. Ensure you are familiar with the job description, so that you can answer any question at hand — same with any interview, and have examples on the ready. Don't forget to tailor your answers so that you slot yourself right in there, so that they can envision your presence within their workforce.

As part of your interview, you may be asked behavioural interview questions to see what you are like as a person. Read 6 Tips to Answering Behavioural Interview Questions to find out more about how you can nail these.

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