If you are interviewing to be an administrative assistant, there are certain preparation methods you can follow to put your best foot forward in your conversation with HR and ensure the best chances of getting the job. There is no "right" way to prepare for an interview; there are strategies you can use to improve your "interviewee skills". Follow these steps to prepare for an administrative assistant interview.
Step 1. Learn about the general functions of an administrative assistant
You'll schedule and record appointments, take care of physical and virtual filing systems, organize records, manage databases to compile numbers and produce reports, run a multi-line phone system, and prepare documents such as letters, emails, and office memos.
Step 2. Research the company
When preparing for interviews of any kind, you should know as much about the company as possible before doing the interview. This shows the interviewer that you are motivated and interested in the company – not just desperate for a job.
Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the vacancy
Every employer looks for a different mix of skills, qualifications and roles in an employee. An important part of preparing for interviews is studying the specifics of the job opportunity you are applying for. For example, one employer might value punctuality and regularity above all other qualities, while another might prefer creativity, open mind and flexibility.
Step 4. Prepare descriptions of your experience, qualifications, strengths and weaknesses
Keeping the specific job in mind, develop brief, concise explanations for these key points in the interview.
Step 5. Study your resume
You must be able to answer questions and expand on the information on your resume. In addition, your resume must be current and must reflect the qualifications of an administrative assistant.
Step 6. Practice your data entry skills
It is common for employers to administer data entry tests on administrative assistant candidates during the interview. This means you should already practice typing (letters and numeric keypad), keeping timing and accuracy in mind.
Step 7. Formulate answers to common administrative assistant interview questions
Get ready to demonstrate your knowledge in the following areas:
- You should be able to explain how you organize and conduct a daily schedule, including what tools you use, how to set your reminders, and how to handle schedule conflicts.
- Customer service is often an important part of an administrative assistant's job, as you may need to handle phone calls, serve as an intermediary between your boss and other work contacts, and greet clients.
- As an administrative assistant, you may be asked to handle confidential information. Be ready to explain during an interview how you handle sensitive information and what steps you take to keep it safe.
- Doing multiple things at once is an important part of being an administrative assistant, so prepare examples of how you handle a multitude of responsibilities at once. Focus on time management, organization and task delegation (where applicable).
- You will need to use a variety of software and office equipment as an administrative assistant. As part of your interview preparation, create a complete list of your proficiencies in these areas.
Step 8. Rehearse your answers
You do not need to memorize answers word for word, but you should be comfortable with the flow of your answers before going on an administrative assistant interview.
Step 9. Get a suitable outfit
Almost every type of business, in every type of environment, requires the services of an administrative assistant; therefore, it is important that you dress in a manner that is appropriate for the business you are interviewing for. Call the receptionist and ask for the dress code. Choose an outfit that is a degree more formal than stated. For example, if the dress code is business casual, then a higher grade than the typical shirt-and-khakis would add a blazer to the look.
- When you feel confident with your preparation, ask a friend to act as the interviewer to simulate the interview and put your preparation to the test. If you can't get help from someone, practice in front of a mirror.
- Make it a point to start preparing for interviews well in advance of the scheduled days so that you are ready to give your best when the time comes.
- Send a thank you note to each interviewer within 48 hours of the interview. Use this as an opportunity to express your interest in the position, as well as remind the interviewer of some of your best qualifications. You can do this by writing something like “Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I'm really interested in this opportunity and I'm sure my organizational skills and my experience in office management would make me a great addition to your team.”