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Preparing for an Administrative Interview

March 28th, 2014

Modern administrative professionals occupy a job category once staffed by secretaries, receptionists, personal assistants, travel coordinators, office managers and a wide range of other personnel who devoted their full-time energy to specific components of a role that’s now often held by just one person. In the digital age, “admins” usually wear all of these hats at once. That means their jobs are highly technology-dependent, and their multitasking capacities are often pushed to the limit.

When you schedule a job interview for an admin position, expect a host of questions about your experience with scheduling, budgeting, presentation support, travel planning, customer service, and spoken and written communication. Here are a few of the questions you’ll probably face.

1. Have you done this kind of work before?

Don’t just answer yes or no. Instead, take the floor and speak in an open ended way about how your previous positions and previous experience have prepared you for this role as you see it. Let your employer know what you’ve done in the past, but in addition, use the moment to demonstrate your ability to speak in a way that’s articulate and poised. Show that you know how to think on your feet.

2. If you’re needed during weekends, or if you’re asked to work late with little or no notice, can you do it?

Resist the urge to just say yes. Think carefully about the time you’re willing to invest in this position, and answer honestly. If you describe your true availability, you’ll save countless time and headaches down the road for both your employer and yourself.

3. What admin software platforms are you familiar with?

List and describe your familiarity with word processing and database management programs, like Word and Excel. Then describe your experience with document and photo editing software, presentation platforms and anything else you feel might benefit your employer. Don’t wait for him to ask for specifics—again, just speak freely about your proficiencies.

4. Can you describe an episode in which you 1.) faced a workplace conflict 2.) faced a leadership challenge 3.) faced failure 4.) faced an ethical dilemma on the job, 4.) faced an impossible task, etc, etc. What happened and how did you respond?

These are called “behavioral questions”, and they help employers determine if you’re a fit for the culture of this workplace. When you hear a question like this, pause before you answer. Then tell a story that’s true, short, and illustrates how you solve problems and bounce back from challenges.

For more on what to expect during your administrative interview and tips on how to prepare, contact the CT job search and employment experts at Merritt Staffing.

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