Top 30 Administrative Assistant Interview Questions And Answers

administrative assistant interview questions

By Mike Simpson

UPDATED 6/4/2022

administrative assistant interview questions

They say behind every successful business executive is a good administrative assistant secretly running the show. While the statement is meant to be funny, there’s a pretty solid core of truth to it.

A competent, qualified, and enthusiastic administrative assistant is worth their weight in gold, and hiring managers use precision administrative assistant interview questions to weed out unqualified applicants on their quest for the best of the best. If you want to ensure you’re ready, here’s what you need to know.

What Is an Administrative Assistant?

So, what is an administrative assistant? Well, the good folks at The Balance say these professionals are “the backbone of office functionality,” and they’re not wrong. Modern administrative assistants are like the Swiss army knife of employees and are required to know an enormous amount of information and possess a multitude of skills.

Today’s administrative assistants are often the right hand of CEOs, assisting with the day-to-day tasks of running a business. Administrative assistants coordinate calendars, schedule meetings, manage basic office needs and often act as a liaison between the CEO and other departments.

They can also be tasked with more traditional assignments, like answering phones and emails, preparing reports, and maintaining informational databases and filing systems.

Because the role of a good administrative assistant is so wide-ranging, hiring managers are going to be on the lookout for candidates who possess a multitude of skills. This means, if you’re going in for an administrative assistant interview, you should be prepared to answer equally varied questions that cover both hard and soft skills.

Nailing an administrative assistant interview can be difficult, particularly since there is often quite a bit of competition. Overall, nearly 2.3 million people work in the field. But standing out isn’t impossible. With the right strategy, you can get it right.

How to Prepare for an Administrative Assistant Interview: Our 4 Best Tips

Here are 5 of our best tips to make sure you are ready for your next administrative assistant interview:

1. Prep

It’s important you start thinking like an administrative assistant long before you ever step foot in that interview room. As we mentioned above, a solid administrative assistant is someone who can help manage and facilitate the day-to-day for busy executives. If you can demonstrate that skill to the hiring manager through your application, your odds of getting the interview will go up significantly!

That means tailoring your cover letter, your application, and your resume specifically to both the job and the company. Make sure the skills and abilities you feature match what the company is looking for and are clearly highlighted.

A hiring manager is much more likely to pull you in for an interview if they can see at a glance that you’re perfectly matched for the job. Make their job easier!

2. Use Concrete Examples from Your Past

One of the key components of a good administrative assistant is making life easier for a manager or executive. Give the hiring manager solid examples of ways you’ve helped do that for superiors both in your cover letter and during the interview.

NOTE: If you are preparing for an executive assistant interview specifically as opposed to an administrative assistant position (there’s a difference!), then head over to our executive assistant interview questions article.

3. Take a Hard Look at Your Soft Skills

We’ve covered soft skills before, so make sure you go over the list and hone in on the soft skills the job requires. Being technically proficient is only half the job. Having a solid grasp of the soft skills you need for the position you’re interviewing for and showcasing them in your cover letter, resume and interview will help turn you from job seeker to employed!

4. Get Hands-On with the High Tech

Administrative assistants commonly work with technology. Making sure you know how the computers, copiers, fax machines, and other standard office equipment work, even on just a basic level, is a skill any hiring manager will appreciate.

While you probably won’t be expected to perform any major repairs, having a working knowledge of how to use the equipment and how to perform basic maintenance will help highlight your ability to manage a smooth-running office environment.

In fact we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions along with their admin assistant specific questions!

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Top 5 Administrative Assistant Interview Questions

Now that we’ve got the tips covered, it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for: the top 5 administrative assistant questions and answers.

Remember, as you read through these, think about how you would answer them and how you might best highlight your relevant skills and knowledge.

Don’t forget to include successes from past jobs as well!

1. If you were given two high-priority tasks from different managers, how do you decide what to handle first?

One of the classic administrative assistant interview questions, this gives the hiring manager insights into how you make decisions and navigate challenges. Ideally, you want to outline a general strategy – preferably using an example from your past – that highlights your ability to make sound choices quickly and achieve results.


“In this situation, I use a multi-faceted approach to decide which task I’ll tackle first. Usually, I factor in the requested due date, time involved, and overall difficulty. Additionally, I’ll consider whether one task may experience delays, such as waiting for responses from other project members.

“For example, in my last position, one manager needed a presentation created for an upcoming conference, while another required a report outlining the status of a project. Both had a similar time commitment, and the assignments were due at essentially the same time. However, I was able to determine how to proceed based on the nature of the work. The report required input from various team members, while the presentation I could complete independently. So, I reached out to get the data required for the report first and, while I awaited those responses, pivoted over to the presentation. By the time all of the report data arrived, the presentation was wrapped up, allowing me to adjust my focus back and get that handled, too.”

2. Which of your strengths helps you excel as an administrative assistant?

With this admin assistant interview question, the hiring manager learns how you view the role, as well as gets insights into your capabilities. It’s a simple way to assess your mindset and find out about your strengths.


“If I had to choose just one strength that I feel allows me to thrive, it’s active listening. An administrative assistant is generally a support role, ensuring others have what they need to manage their tasks. Active listening skills make me particularly effective.

“As part of my process, I go beyond simply hearing what’s shared. In my last role, I began with simple listening. Then, I restated what I’ve heard, allowing me to ensure I fully understand. As necessary, I’ll ask probing questions to gain additional clarity. Overall, I’ve found the strategy is highly effective, allowing me to exceed expectations simply by gathering the right information from the beginning.”

3. What strategies do you use to stay organized?

Administrative assistants typically have a lot on their plate, making organization essential. With this question, you simply want to outline techniques you use to stay on top of it all.


“During my career, I’ve developed several reliable strategies to stay organized. First, I’m an avid calendar app user. Along with color-coding appointments for easier tracking and using notifications to keep everything on time, I block out time for all of my duties. That gives me a time-based to-do list, ensuring I stay on target.

“When it comes to document management, color-coded filing systems and standardized naming conventions make a world of difference. With color-coding, it’s easier to find physical documents quickly. By using standardized naming conventions on digital files, searching for critical information is far easier. Altogether, those processes increase my efficiency while ensuring everything has its place and is easy to find again in the future.” 

4. Tell me about a time when you dealt with a tight deadline.

Here’s one of the interview questions for an administrative assistant where the hiring manager gets to find out how you handle pressure. Make sure you discuss a clear example that outlines the situation and how you overcame the challenge.


“In my last position, a critical project budget meeting had to be rescheduled unexpectedly, pushing the date up by more than one week. As a result, instead of having seven business days to gather the required information and create a report, I had just two days to handle everything.

“The first step I took was to review my calendar and adjust my schedule to ensure no other tasks fell through the crack as I prepared to focus on the report. Additionally, I engaged with relevant project members right away. Along with informing them of the meeting change, I outlined the precise information I required from them and when it was needed, setting a response time a few hours ahead of when it was genuinely necessary to create a buffer.

“After that, I contacted each supplier and vendor involved immediately, opting for phone calls to ensure a quick response. Again, I outlined exactly what was needed and a response time, creating a sense of urgency.

“Ultimately, the strategy led to quick replies, giving me enough time to create the required report ahead of the meeting. In fact, it was even wrapped up a few hours ahead of schedule, giving my manager time to review the data before the gathering.”

5. Describe a time when you quickly had to change priorities.

In a similar vein to the question above, administrative assistants often deal with changing priorities. Again, the hiring manager wants to know how you navigate that challenge.


“In my last job, the other administrative assistant in my department had a medical emergency, taking them out of the office for several weeks. Since I was the only administrative assistant available, that meant quickly pivoting to cover critical tasks for the whole department.

“To simplify the process, I met with each manager to learn more about the projects the other admin assistant had on their plate. This allowed me to create a functional to-do list, accounting for my workload and that of the absent team member. While the transition was challenging, I was able to adapt, covering critical tasks for the entire department.”

25 More Admin Assistant Questions You Should Prepare For

    1. Have you been an administrative assistant before? What is the extent of your experience?
    2. What do you like/dislike the most about being an admin assistant?
    3. Why did you leave your last role?
    4. What is your biggest accomplishment to date in this role?
    5. In your previous position, what tasks did you find most challenging? What did you do to ensure you executed the tasks at a high level?
    6. What do you think is the greatest contribution an admin assistant makes to a team?
    7. What is your typing speed and error rate?
    8. Describe your level of competency with computers. Which operating systems have you worked with?
    9. What traditional software programs have you used? Are you comfortable with Office, Excel, and other similar programs?
    10. Do you have any specific tools you like to use for time management?
    11. What kind of supervisor brings out the best in you? What sort of people do you work the best with?
    12. Do you tend to like working independently or as a member of a team?
    13. What work schedule do you envision for yourself in this role? Are you open to working overtime?
    14. Describe a time that you didn’t get along with someone in the office and what you did to mediate the situation.
    15. Have you ever encountered a direct superior that was difficult to work with? How did you manage the relationship?
    16. What role do you think that the admin assistant plays in corporate culture?
    17. What strategies do you employ when prioritizing your tasks?
    18. Can you recall a specific project that you enjoyed working on the most? What was about it that you liked, and can you anticipate experiencing this again if hired?
    19. Would you consider yourself a good communicator? Would your prior colleagues or supervisors agree/disagree?
    20. Have you ever assisted more than one superior at a time? How did you manage and prioritize the tasks they assigned you?
    21. Describe a time when you needed to be discreet with regard to your superior and how you specifically handled it.
    22. Do you envision the admin assistant role changing in the short/medium/long term? If so, how? And have you thought about how you will adapt?
    23. Have you ever managed other people? Would you be comfortable having one or more people report to you?
    24. Do you consider yourself a career assistant? If not, what are your ambitions for growth in your current career vertical?
    25. Aside from your basic duties, what other duties have you performed as an admin assistant that went above and beyond what was expected of you?

20 Good Questions to Ask in an Administrative Assistant Interview

Before wrapping up your interview, odds are your hiring manager will ask you if you have any questions for them.

While it’s tempting to bail as quickly as possible, take the time to ask your own questions. Not only will it show the interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in the position, but you might just learn something about the job you didn’t know before.

Good questions to ask are:

    1. Can you describe a typical day in this role/department?
    2. If hired, what would my duties and responsibilities include?
    3. Where do you see this company going in the next five years?
    4. Is there room for growth in this position?
    5. How are the departments structured? Who do I specifically answer to?
    6. If I were to talk to your past assistant, what would they say is the best part about working for you? What is the worst?
    7. Describe your perfect assistant. What are the best qualities you’re looking for?
    8. Tell me about your worst assistant. What did they do that made them the worst?
    9. Can you describe your performance review process to me? How often are reviews held? Who conducts them?
    10. Does this company reward employees or encourage them?
    11. Do you or the company encourage and/or support ongoing education programs? Are employees encouraged to attend further education programs or go back to school?
    12. Are there any professional organizations that you encourage your employees to join?
    13. What are the expectations for overtime and/or weekend hours?
    14. When it comes to past employees that held the role, what did the top performers have in common?
    15. What is the vacation policy? What is the sick time policy?
    16. What do you personally like the most about working here? What do you like the least?
    17. If you could give the new administrative assistant one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
    18. How has this position changed over the past five years? How do you envision this role changing in the next five years?
    19. What is the biggest challenge that this company or department is facing? How could the new hire in this position help solve it?
    20. What are your goals for the new hire during the first 30, 60, and 90 days?

Of course, this list is just our list of suggestions. Based on your research and your own personal concerns, feel free to come up with your own.

Putting It All Together

Making sure you’re prepared to answer the administrative assistant interview questions means doing your research beforehand, putting yourself into the right mindset, and finding targeted examples to highlight your expertise. Of course, as a student of the The Interview Guys, this stuff should be a snap!

Good luck!


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  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at 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.