Austin’s Guide to Acing the Administrative Job Interview: Your Path to Success

Austin’s Guide to Acing the Administrative Job Interview: Your Path to Success

Preparing for any job interview takes a little bit of research, some practice and a good amount of confidence. After all, if you don’t believe you’re the best candidate for the job, why should your interviewer? 

In order to convince your interviewer that you have what it takes to be a great addition to their team and will make a top-notch administrator, start by preparing to answer a few questions in ways that will show off your skills and thought process. You’ll also want to be ready to answer some questions about your background, why you’re looking to change jobs and what about this specific position made you think this would be a great fit for you. 

Let’s start at the beginning and prepare for some of the questions you might be asked during your interview. 

  • When asked about your strengths, be specific and use examples. If asked about your areas of expertise or strength, speak with confidence. If you have excellent organizational skills, talk them up! Most administrators are responsible for juggling many tasks at once; you’ll want to explain how you keep different projects and priorities in line and running smoothly at the same time and what systems you keep for managing deadlines. If you have certifications in bookkeeping, certain software programs or systems, this is a great time to mention it — certifications show that you were interested and invested enough in a position that you took it upon yourself to add to your skillset to do your job to the best of your ability. 
  • When asked about handling stressful situations, be honest but don’t appear panicked.  This is often a question interviewers will use to gauge how well you handle stress in busy times.  Instead, talk about how you’re able to reset and refocus when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed: how do you cope with stress in a way that addresses your feelings while still maintaining the ability to get the job done? Everyone gets stressed at work from time to time. As an administrator, or administrative assistant, what would you do if an order went missing or a shipment was late? How would you handle a computer failure that messed up appointments or lost contacts? Talk about a time in which a bad day turned into a learning opportunity and what you took forward from that experience. 
  • Talk about your tools. You might be asked what tools you use for time management, project management or even basic organization. The good news is, there are plenty of tools out there, some of them free and easy to learn, that can help keep everyone and everything on track with just a few simple inputs. If you’re new to the administrative industry, get familiar with the tools available through Google, including shared calendars, documents, folders, etc., all of which can be accessed anywhere in the world and which can be updated and shared very quickly across teams. Be specific about how you use the tools you are most familiar with and why and how they’ve been helpful in the past. Talk about what you look for in organizational tools and what aspects you really like because they make sense to you. 
  • How have you handled situations in which you’ve needed to be discrete? This could feel like a loaded question, but it’s not meant to be scandalous. Admins handle a great variety of tasks, including ones that the rest of the team might not need to know about. Be specific in answering this question: without divulging personal information of the parties involved, explain how you were able to keep things quiet while handling the situation at hand. Keep in mind, too, that many admins are viewed as someone in the office that colleagues can confide in or seek advice from; how do you handle information provided to you that might need to be kept confidential or, conversely, that might indicate a larger problem that needs to be escalated? There’s great responsibility in being a bridge between management and other coworkers; spell out how you navigate these communication responsibilities in a way that protects information as well as people. 
  • How do you manage conflict? The administrator of a department or a team can be someone viewed as in the middle of everything. If you have a personal conflict between colleagues, or between yourself and another employee, how would you address that? If the conflict is between yourself and someone in management, what would you do to maintain a professional working relationship? Here, if possible, a personal anecdote would be a great way to provide specific details and real-life experiences in a way that helps show how you’ve handled a delicate situation. Be concise but specific about the general situation, giving only enough information to lay out the conflict but with more of a focus on the resolution and outcome. The interviewer wants to know how you’ll handle an office that can be filled with big personalities that might sometimes clash; are you going to be able to be professional and maintain a healthy working environment or will one small or perceived slight cause things to unravel? 
  • Be prepared to talk about your communication skills. Do you prefer to share information by email or phone? Are you a chat user and, if so, do you prefer Teams or Webex or something else — and why? When you’re in a meeting, how do you take notes or remember key pieces of information? A large portion of an administrator’s job is communication: you need good listening skills and strong written and verbal communication skills in order to do your job well. How do you make sure you’re providing useful information? Do you know when a meeting can be an email? All of this is important for busy offices, especially if some members are working remote or hybrid. 


A day or two before your interview, think about these questions and prepare the answers so that you can provide them quickly, calmly and with confidence. You want to make a great first impression, to show that you can handle all that comes with being an administrator, and that you’ll be the friendly, poised point of communication and organization this office needs! 

If you’re not sure what skills to highlight or if you’re still unsure what kind of job you’d like, it’s time to call LeadingEdge Personnel. Our expert recruiters can help you understand which career options you have available to you, based on your skills and experience, and we can review your resume to let you know which open positions our clients have that might be a great fit for you. Take a moment to review our job board and see if anything appeals to you, then give LeadingEdge a call. Your future starts today! 

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