Top 30 Executive Assistant Interview Questions (+ Example Answers)

By Mike Simpson

When it comes to your job search, practically nothing feels as momentous as meeting with the hiring manager.  And since the position of executive assistant often acts as a real linchpin in any company or organization, the hiring manager is going to be particularly careful in finding the “perfect candidate”. After all, if they hire the wrong person the whole operation could go down in flames on the first day. (Ok so I’m exaggerating A LITTLE. But you know how key you are 😉 )

So there’s a chance you’re a bit nervous for this upcoming interview…

But don’t worry. We’ve got your back.

In this post we’re going to break down the top 30 executive assistant interview questions you need to be ready for and give you sample answers you can use for inspiration.

Let’s get cracking!

How to Answer Executive Assistant Interview Questions

You know that nailing your executive assistant interview question answers is essential. If you don’t impress the hiring manager quickly, you probably won’t land the job. It is really that simple.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should panic. Far from it. Understanding how important your answers are can actually be incredibly motivating and even empowering. You just have to be ready to do what it takes to stand out.

So, you’re ready to do what it takes; you’re willing to learn all you need to know.

Now what?

Well, it’s strategy time!

First things first, in case you didn’t know or are transitioning from one to the other, an executive assistant and an administrative assistant are two different things.

Usually, an executive assistant position is considered a higher-level position. The focus is on supporting company higher-ups and the duties are generally elevated while administrative assistants typically provide general support to an entire department or office.

Why does that difference matter? Because it means you’ll face different kinds of questions. You need to adjust your expectations based on the nature of the role. If you don’t, you’ll struggle.

Okay, with that out of the way, it’s time to dig in. When you are trying to figure out the best way to answer executive interview questions, having a formula is the way to go. What is that magic formula? The strategies to trump all others? A combination of the STAR and Tailoring Methods.

This is a visual breakdown of a STAR Method answer.

The STAR method is something we’ve covered in depth before. But, for those who aren’t familiar, here’s a brief overview:

STAR is an acronym. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Essentially, it’s a storytelling approach. The STAR method is your ticket to answering behavioral questions perfectly.

With the STAR method, you can share details about what you bring to the table in a compelling way. First, you set a scene, outlining what was occurring. Second, you give insight into your responsibilities that relate to the scenario. Third, you dive into the actions you took, including what impacted any decisions you made along the way. Finally, you bring it home with a strong closing, letting the hiring manager know how things turned out.

MIKE'S TIP: When you answer any executive assistant interview question with an example, you usually want to quantify the details. But only share the numbers if they work in your favor. If you saved or earned a company $2,000, share that number! However, if your efforts only saved or earned $50, you might want to let the hiring manager imagination take that one and skip that detail.

Alright, so now you know how to share the story. That’s a great start. But your work isn’t done yet. If you really want to speak the hiring manager’s language, it’s time for Tailoring.

The Tailoring method is really all about what it sounds like. You want to customize your answers based on the potential employer’s needs and priorities. It’s all about speaking to the hiring manager’s must-haves and showcasing yourself as a solution to their problems.

Mainly, you want to create an irresistible value proposition. You need to make sure the hiring manager doesn’t have any doubts about how you can help the company reach its goals. How do you do that? By sharing relevant examples.

When you choose the stories you’re going to tell, select the ones that showcase your achievements in areas that matter to the prospective employer. Make your responses all about what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you.

Top 3 Executive Assistant Interview Questions

Now you have a strategy, so it’s time for the next step: Reviewing executive assistant interview questions and some example answers.

In many cases, your interview isn’t going to be easy. In fact, you should be worried if the questions are too simple. Employee satisfaction rises when the interview is a 4 out of 5 on the difficulty scale. Embrace the challenge!

Here’s a look at the top three executive assistant interview questions and answers that can show you what to expect and what an amazing response looks like:

1. If you were given confidential information by the executive you support and another executive asked questions about it, what would you do?

Many executive assistants are privy to confidential and sensitive information. Hiring managers ask this question to gauge a candidate’s level of discretion and approach to a potentially challenging situation. Navigating office politics isn’t easy, and this is a scenario where that may be in play.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“I would clearly and politely explain to them that I don’t have the authority or clearance to share that confidential information, even to other executives in the company. I would then refer them to the executive I assist in case they wanted to discuss the matter further.”

2. If an angry person called and demanded to speak with the executive you support, who is currently unavailable, how would you handle it?

Executive assistants typically act as gatekeepers for the higher-ups they support. On occasion, that means taking calls for people who are upset, or even irate, and are demanding to be put through to the executive. The hiring manager wants to know that you can diffuse the situation quickly and effectively.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“First, I would focus on remaining calm and professional. My goal would be to deescalate the conflict and provide a reasonable solution. I would begin by taking a thorough message. While collecting details, I would address the caller by name to reassure them that I have that in the message. Similarly, I would repeat back what is told to me in a new way to confirm I fully captured the nature of the message to ensure we are on the same page. Lastly, I would recite the caller’s name and contact information a final time and reassure them that the executive will respond to their message before the call ends. If the caller isn’t satisfied with that approach, I would see if a suitable person is available to take the call based on the nature of the caller’s issue.”

3. What strategies do you use for time management when you have multiple pressing assignments at the same time?

As an executive assistant, you typically have to juggle several tasks and adapt to changing priorities. The hiring manager will want to know that you can handle it without succumbing to the pressure.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When I have several high-priority tasks on my plate, I make sure that I remain calm and collected above all else. Next, I create a quick to-do list to organize my duties and order them based on the required deadline and degree of importance. In a situation where the deadlines and level of importance are the same, I do the one that can be handled the fastest first. This allows me to clear an item off of the list and give my full attention to the second task as soon as possible.”

27 More Executive Assistant Interview Questions

Here are additional executive assistant interview questions you might face during a meeting with the hiring manager:

    1. What software programs have you used in the past? Which ones would you deem essential for your success?
    2. Can you describe a time when you had to make scheduling adjustments after an unforeseen circumstance arose?
    3. How do you make sure that you can properly anticipate an executive’s needs?
    4. How would you describe your primary duty as an executive assistant?
    5. Can you tell me about a time when you made a scheduling mistake? How did you handle it?
    6. Do you have previous experience supporting more than one executive at a time?
    7. How would you handle it if you were given two sets of conflicting directions from two executives?
    8. Can you describe your previous reporting experience?
    9. Describe your prior experience booking domestic travel. What about international travel?
    10. Think about a time when you had to work on a challenging project with a group. How did you proceed? What role did you play? What was the outcome?
    11. If you needed to set up a meeting quickly and the conference room you needed was booked, how would you proceed?
    12. What strategies do you use to remain calm in a high-stress, faced-paced environment?
    13. How do you respond to constructive criticism?
    14. If you were given a project that becomes overwhelming, how would you handle the situation?
    15. Describe a time when you and a colleague did not see eye-to-eye on a project you were working on together? How did you get past your differences? Was the project a success?
    16. What strength do you have that helps you excel as an executive assistant? Why?
    17. What weakness holds you back the most at work? Why?
    18. How would your previous employer rate your written and verbal communication skills?
    19. If you were sent into a file room that was in complete disarray, what would you do?
    20. What would you do if an executive you support was traveling, their flight got unexpectedly delayed, and they would be late to a presentation as a result?
    21. When booking accommodations, what do you research or learn about the available hotels before making a selection?
    22. What part of your job as an executive assistant do you like best? What do you like least?
    23. If you were given the opportunity to take additional training, what would you most like to learn?
    24. When faced with a problem, what steps do you take to find a solution?
    25. How has your past education and work experience prepared you for an executive assistant role?
    26. Have you ever broken confidentiality before? If so, why and what was the outcome?
    27. Have you ever been told sensitive or confidential information that made you uncomfortable? How did you deal with the situation?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of an Executive Assistant Interview

At the end of nearly every interview, you’re presented with an opportunity. You can ask questions that help you figure out if this is the job for you. If you don’t know what to ask, here are some questions to keep in your back pocket.

    1. What does an average day as an executive assistant look like here?
    2. What skills or characteristics do your best and brightest executive assistants have in common?
    3. How has the role of executive assistant changed in this company over the past three years? How will it change over the course of the next three years?
    4. What is the company’s core mission? How can an executive assistant here help the organization achieve that objective?
    5. What’s the biggest struggle the executive this position supports faces today? How can an executive assistant relieve that burden?

Here are some more great questions to ask the interviewer.

Putting It All Together

Let’s face facts; going to an interview is nerve-racking. But, with the right preparation, you can deliver amazing answers to any executive assistant interview questions that come your way. Just make sure to remember your strategy, rehearse your responses, and prepare your examples. And don’t forget, you’re an excellent candidate. You just have to show that to the hiring manager.

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.