People that are interviewed for office administrator jobs need to create an impression of themselves as being reliable and highly professional in the way they conduct themselves. Candidates should make an extra effort to arrive with time to spare, and to ensure that they are smartly dressed. Applicants should not be afraid to let their personalities shine through during the interview discussions.
Always give the interviewers a firm handshake, and make eye contact with each member of the team. Candidates should have researched the role, the attached responsibilities, and thought about how their own experience is applicable to the position well in advance.
Research into the company itself is also important, as employers will be looking for evidence of motivation and attention to detail from candidates.
Our recruiters in the sales, marketing and customer services sectors outline their top interview prep tip in the video below:
Information for office administration candidates
Administrator positions tend to be incredibly varied, with the individuals acting as the backbone of the office, and keeping everyone else functioning as efficiently as possible. Tasks can range from anything from answering the phones, to meeting and greeting new clients, and placing orders for stationery.
Good administrators need to be proactive in spotting potential problems and acting quickly to solve them, as well as being reliable and resourceful. They will usually be the individuals that other employees interact with most frequently, so it is important that they are personable and likeable. Demonstrating a positive, can-do attitude in the interview should be a priority.
Administrators are often the first contact points for clients so they need to ensure they have good communication skills. They often create the first impression that potential customers and clients have of an organisation.
Possible administrator interview questions
Most questions can be broken down into 4 different types: Experience, Preference; Skills; and General questions.
Experience-based interview questions
What experience do you have in administrator roles?
Here is your chance to run through all of your experience. Be concise and if you have done multiple roles, mention something specific for each one. Show that you have a lot of experience and are flexible.
How do you keep yourself organised when dealing with tasks and requests from multiple sources?
The best way to stay organised is to keep a log of every request and each task completed so that nothing is accidentally left to go past a deadline. Mention any software that you use for this purpose.
How do you cope with busy, stressful periods?
Answer that by staying organised and keeping a strict diary you find that stress does not become a real issue. As soon as you identify a possible delay due to high work volumes you raise this with your manager to see if the work can either be reallocated or given priority.
Give an example of a time you have delivered great customer service
Ideally, you have some real work experience that you can talk about. Talk in some detail about what you did and why it was great. If you have no direct work experience then talk about an event where you helped a friend to resolve a problem and that these skills can be used in administration and customer care work.
What role do you think an administrator plays in the office dynamic?
Say that an administrator plays an important role in ensuring that diaries are properly managed and that all outgoing correspondence is well written and all incoming correspondence is read and delivered to the relevant managers quickly.
Are you able to use any relevant software packages?
If you have experience, mention the packages you have used. If not, get some training in the most important packages before your interview. Ask your recruitment consultant what are the best packages to learn.
How do you deal with authority?
Say that you deal with authority as you deal with customers - with integrity, professionalism and politeness.
How would you react if you felt you were being pushed too far at work?
If pushed too far you would consider speaking to your manager about workloads and expectations and try to resolve the situation.
Preference-based interview questions
What do you enjoy most/least about this type of work?
This is similar to the strengths/weaknesses questions - what you like least must be turned into a positive trait. Say that you enjoy the challenge of meeting deadlines and of working in a team environment. For what you like least, say that you do not like it when you see disorganised work and a poorly managed diary; you feel the need to help organise and manage the workload.
How do you feel about multitasking at work?
Multitasking is a necessary part of an administration job, so say that you enjoy multitasking and the challenge of ensuring that multiple functions and jobs are completed accurately and on time is part of what motivates you in your work.
Why do you think it’s important to be positive in an admin role?
Being positive is important because often a person’s attitude to their work can come across in their writing and presentation. Administrators sometimes provide the first impression a customer has of a business, so a positive and professional outlook is needed at all times.
Do you enjoy meeting new people and interacting with customers?
Meeting people and speaking to customers is often a vital part of being an administrator. Say that you enjoy talking to people and that interaction with other people is often what makes the work most interesting.
Skills-based interview questions
Do you have any skills such as shorthand/touch typing?
Ideally, you will be able to touch type well, so say yes to this. Shorthand is a dying art and fewer people are learning how to do this well. If you have the opportunity to learn it, then do so, because some managers like their administrators to be able to take down shorthand.
What are your communication skills like?
Say that they are very good and that you can communicate well face-to-face, on the telephone and via the Internet on email. Tell us about a time in your professional career when you went out of your way to complete a task for someone else
Hopefully, you have some real experiences - but you may have forgotten them by now. Think back and try to recall a time that you may have helped somebody when they were under pressure or off sick.
Are you good at solving problems?
Not all administrators need to be excellent problem solvers so if you are not the best, be honest and say so. You could say that you are not good at solving problems but you understand the skills of your colleagues well and will always be able to persuade somebody to assist.
General interview questions
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What do you know about us specifically?
- What are your main motivations?
- Do you think technology has a role to play in this position?
- How will you keep ahead of the curve?
- What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
- Why are you perfectly suited to this role?
- Do you have any questions for us?
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