Questions to Consider When Hiring an Administrative Assistant

Walk into any office and you’re likely to encounter an administrative assistant. Often one of the most devalued positions in an organization, these positions are uniquely designed for maximum office productivity by managing communications as the first line of defense.

You may find them directing attention via emails, phone calls, and any incoming or outgoing packages. Most importantly, they work with you directly day in and day out. Administrative staff can quickly become an integral aspect of an office.

Use the following guides to gain perspective on how to interview administrative assistant job seekers.

Assessing Hard Skills

If you have a current administrative assistant, ask them to write down each task they do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This exercise will give you insight you can use for yourself when posting a job online or better yet – share with a staffing firm. It’s important to recognize that utilizing a staffing agency will give you access to their existing pipeline which may already be qualified and ready to work. Key criteria including common applications used in your office will be important in your job description. Below are a few questions to get you started.

  • How technologically proficient are you?
  • How comfortable are you with Window compared to Macintosh operating systems?
  • Do you have experience managing an executive calendar and scheduling appointments?
  • What are the most common formulas you use in Excel?
  • Which software have you used that you highly recommend?

Assessing Soft Skills

Starting with questions about technology will give you an idea of whether a candidate is remotely able to perform the necessary functions of the role. You can assess soft skills that will present more of the social aspect and their self-perceptive nature. While these administrative assistant questions tend to be more descriptive and personal, they will also allow for a more in-depth conversation during which you’ll have the opportunity to observe their soft skills beyond the answer to the question. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that candidates may accentuate certain previous positions where they learned an important lesson or had to stand up for themselves.

  • How do you handle stress and deadlines?
  • Describe the different types of business communications you were responsible for.
  • How do you make sure you have clearly and accurately understood an inquiry or request made of you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize an uncommonly busy workload; how did you approach it?
  • When have you had to communicate with a client or senior manager on behalf of your boss?
  • Who was the most challenging manager you’ve had and how did you meet the expectations of that person?

The Right Interview Questions to Ask Administrative Assistants

We’ve found that the best administrative assistants are analytical, efficient and a bit psychic. Not only do they know what you want to be done, they know how you want it done.Interviewing administrative assistant candidates can be grueling. Working with a staffing company to prepare will increase your ability to find the most qualified assistant for yourself and your organization.

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