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Top Interview Questions for Admin Candidates

Interview Questions for an Office AdminPreviously we posted our recruiters’ top questions for sales candidates. Today we’re tackling an even harder role – that of office admin.

When you’re first looking for an office admin or executive assistant, you might think that just about anyone might do. After all, it’s not a hard or highly-skilled job, right?

WRONG. Dead wrong.

Depending on exactly what you need, you might be looking for someone who can cheerfully greet clients, plan the company party, and put the finishing touches on a sales deck all at the same time. Or maybe you’re looking for a master at complex calendaring who can also remember everyone’s birthdays and keep the beer fridge stocked. Finding an admin who fits your company culture and can successfully juggle an almost obscene number of tasks is easier said than done.

Luckily our expert recruiters have a few killer questions to get you started:

Heather TraegerHeather Traeger

  • When we ring your referees, what three words will they use when I ask them to describe your customer service style?

Heather’s question gets to the core piece of any office administrator or executive assistant candidate – how is their customer service? In many instances, you’ll be hiring a candidate who will be the “face” of your organization to the world, and many people’s first impression. If you hire someone whose alter-ego is Mr. Crankypants, your company’s face won’t be so happy.

Christie HeinerChristie Heiner

  • Describe a complex organizational project that you managed recently?

For most administrative roles, you’ll need someone who can handle complex projects and can take pretty much anything that you throw at them. Christie’s question ensures that your candidate has actually dealt with complexity like yours before.

Richard ShermanRichard Sherman

  • Administrative work can often be quite tedious and repetitive, but is so vital for the functioning of a business. What have you found is your unique way of coping with repetitive work so you stay engaged and focused on it?
  • When you are facing a task in a software application that you haven’t done before – like pivot tables in Excel, or building a database from scratch in Access, for example – take me through your steps for getting started successfully?
  • Oftentimes administrative professionals are the ones who get the brunt of other people’s frustrations; your manager, customers, other executives all can unload their crankiness on you. Tell me how you handle that experience and share with me your favorite story about dealing with just that.

Richard’s questions get to the other side of Christie’s. He gets to the tougher side of administrative work – the repetitive tasks and other people’s crankiness. If your candidate doesn’t have strategies for dealing with day-to-day tedium and difficult people, you probably need to look elsewhere.

caffeinating, calculating, computerating” by Ryan Ritchie is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Jenn Steele

Head of Growth at RecruitLoop. Previously at Amazon & HubSpot. Passionate about growing humans and companies, working out, and wine. Also blogs on leadership at leadinggeeks.net. Follow her @jennsteele.

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