Office Assistant Interview Questions
An office assistant maintains day-to-day office operations. The assistant’s main responsibilities include receiving and distributing communications, maintaining office equipment and supplies, delivering and picking up items, inputting data, and making copies of paperwork.
Office assistants will often work as customer service representatives as well. To serve customers, you may need to assist the receptionist, answer any questions a client may have, confirm customer orders, and keep them updated on their order status.
As an office assistant, your day-to-day responsibilities may include:
- Maintaining equipment by scheduling routine maintenance
- Troubleshooting equipment malfunctions for co-workers in the office
- Data entry
- Providing customer service to clients
- Running tasks for other members in the office
- Keeping the office area tidy
Office assistants are integral to providing support for office workers and maintaining a productive working environment. A skilled office assistant will:
- Offer support to all members of the office
- Stay on top of day-to-day maintenance within the office
- Be punctual
- Be able to follow directions efficiently and quickly
- Maintain a friendly demeanor at all times
Office assistant positions are usually entry-level jobs, and as such, they usually only require a high school diploma and knowledge of computer-based programs such as Microsoft Office Suite. However, candidates with higher education and prior experience will be preferred.
If you’re getting ready for your first interview as an office assistant, you can find more information about preparing for your first interview on our blog article, "5 tips for acing your first interview."
Salaries for office assistants range between $28K and $49K with the median being $39K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as an office assistant include:
- Degrees (high school, associate's, bachelor's)
- Years of Experience
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the office manager you report to, number of direct reports you may have such as clerks, interns, etc.)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Office Assistant Interview Questions
Question: What interests you about working as an office assistant, and what attracted you to this job?
Explanation: This is a general question which the interviewer will ask early in the interview. The purpose of this is to learn a little bit more about you and make you comfortable. It also gives the interviewer a sample of your communication style.
Example: “I have always been a person who enjoys helping other people. I also enjoy performing well-defined tasks within a business environment. My favorite subjects in school involved writing, organizing things, and communicating with other people. Taken together, these pointed me in the direction of working as an office assistant. Once I began this profession, I never looked back. I enjoy what I do and seeing the results of my efforts through the success of the people I support and the organization as a whole.”
Question: What are the different types of administrative projects you prefer to work on?
Explanation: The reason an interviewer will ask this question is to understand what you enjoy on the job which translates into what you will be good at. It will also confirm that you are aware of the duties of an office assistant and are able to perform them.
Example: “The duties I enjoy the most in my job include working with customers, composing emails, reports, and other documents, and interfacing with the vendors who provide the office with supplies, services, and equipment. Each of these involves interpersonal communication which is the favorite part of my job.”
Question: What projects or tasks are less interesting for you? How do you overcome your lack of interest in them?
Explanation: This is an operational question meant it to determine the things you like the least and the ones you may be the least competent with. It’s not a trick question, but it could be a disqualifier if one of the tasks you identify is critical to the company’s operations. Make sure you remain positive and describe how you overcome your lack of interest or dislike for a task in order to perform it well.
Example: “The least interesting job I perform as an office assistant is filing. The reason for this is because the task is very repetitive and not that challenging. While I still pay attention to the details required to do this well, my interest lags quickly, and I find myself looking forward to moving on to more challenging and interesting projects.”
Question: How skilled are you at working on a computer? Can you give me some examples of your skills in this area?
Explanation: This is a technical question the interviewer uses to learn about your computer skills which are extremely important for office assistants. While most contemporary workers are familiar with computers and adept at their operation, office assistants must have specific skills to do their job. You should provide examples of the programs and applications in which you are competent.
Example: “I have been working with computers and office applications for my entire career and even before. I’ve taken courses in specific applications, including Microsoft Office Suite, Google Docs and Sheets, QuickBooks, and Adobe products. I’m familiar with most email programs as well as several other applications that help me do my job."
Question: Describe your experience with management calendars for the company staff as well as scheduling meetings and other business events.
Explanation: One of the key responsibilities of an office assistant is to help coordinate the activities of the company’s staff and its executives. This involves managing a variety of calendars, keeping them synchronized, and addressing conflicts. Additional duties may include scheduling meetings both within and outside of the office as well as reserving conference rooms and making arrangements for the resources needed for a meeting. If you don’t have direct experience in this area, you should still be able to describe what’s required to do it effectively.
Example: “I have experience in a variety of different calendar applications, including Outlook, Google, and several others. I know how to maintain multiple calendars using a single application and synchronize them to minimize scheduling conflicts. I can quickly set up meetings based on each person’s availability. In my most recent role, I was responsible for managing the office conference rooms and providing the resources needed for the meetings, including equipment and refreshments. I am very comfortable performing these tasks.”
Question: What type of documents have you created, edited, and managed using Microsoft Office Suite?
Explanation: This is another technical question to learn more about your skills with Microsoft Office Suite applications. You should be very familiar with this leading application that's used in the majority of business environments. Your answer should cite several different types of documents on which you have worked.
Example: "I have used Microsoft Office Suite quite a bit and am very familiar with each application. Tasks I accomplish using this set of tools include writing notes and reports, compiling documentation for office processes, developing and editing spreadsheets, and creating PowerPoint presentations. I’ve taken courses to learn more about these programs and have even written macros to save time and make the programs more productive. I use the same applications at home in my personal business.”
Question: What experience do you have with data entry?
Explanation: This is yet another technical question that will help the interviewer confirm your capabilities and skills as an office assistant. It is probably one of the easiest questions you will have during the interview since it addresses skills that every office assistant should have. Answer this directly and succinctly so you can move on to more important questions.
Example: “Data entry is probably one of the most frequent things I do in my career as an office assistant. While many people consider this to be a mundane and perhaps even boring task, I make it interesting but challenging myself to recognize patterns and minimize errors. I make a sort of a game out of it to see if I can enter a specific amount of data without making any mistakes. Doing this has actually improved my data-entry skills.”
Question: How do you maintain accuracy in routine tasks such as processing expense reports and preparing documents and spreadsheets?
Explanation: No matter how good you are at your job, errors occur. The key is recognizing and correcting them before they have an impact on the business’ operations. A good answer to this question is to acknowledge that no one is perfect and describe your strategy for reducing and eliminating errors in the work you do.
Example: “I wish I could tell you that I never make a mistake, but of course, that isn’t true. However, knowing there may be errors in my work, I take specific steps to minimize them. I always double-check the work I do using the tools embedded in the applications I use such as spellcheckers. I even use additional tools such as Grammarly which go beyond basic spellchecking. Finally, if the task I am working on is critical, I will ask somebody else in the office to review my work before I submit it.”
Question: If you are required to work for several people at our company, how would you determine which tasks to work on first?
Explanation: This is an operational question meant to determine your ability to prioritize and multitask. This is a key skill for anyone but especially people within an office environment where multiple tasks compete for limited resources. Your answer should refer to prioritizing the most important or time-sensitive tasks and balancing requests from multiple stakeholders.
Example: “I am often required to balance competing requests for my time from either task that needs to be accomplished or people who have jobs they’d like to assign to me. In most cases, I am able to balance this myself. I do so by determining the most critical task or the most time-sensitive ones. I then look at my schedule and find slots in which I will have time to perform these duties. If one of the people I support disagrees with my choices, we have a brief conversation so we both understand what is important and what will be done.”
Question: Can you describe a project you worked on with a team in order to meet a common goal. What was your contribution?
Explanation: This is an example of a behavioral question that can determine how you will perform in a specific situation described by the interviewer. The best way to answer a behavioral question is by using the STAR framework. This stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. By organizing your answer in this way, you can walk the interviewer through your response in a logical manner. Since collaboration and teamwork are important skills for anybody to have, your answer should demonstrate how you’ve used these skills in the past.
Example: “I have worked on many projects which involved collaborating with a team to accomplish a task. I enjoy doing this because it allows me to interact with other people and learn from them. On a recent project, we were tasked with organizing the company’s annual sales meeting. My role was to handle the logistics at the meeting site. After discussing the requirements with other people on the team, I contacted a local hotel and arranged for a meeting room that would accommodate our needs. This included the AV equipment and the refreshments needed throughout the meeting. By working together, the team was able to organize the event which was a resounding success.”
Additional Office Assistant Interview Questions
What have you done in the past to facilitate a comfortable office environment?
What experience do you have with computer-based software?
What do you feel your biggest accomplishment or contribution was in your current position or prior job?
How would you resolve a disagreement with another employee?
What experience do you have with customer service?
How do you create schedules for yourself to stay organized?
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A word of warning when using question lists.
Question lists offer a convenient way to start practicing for your interview. Unfortunately, they do little to recreate actual interview pressure. In a real interview you’ll never know what’s coming, and that’s what makes interviews so stressful.
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