News And Advice

Insights, tips and news for job seekers and employers.

Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Office Assistant


The role of an Office Assistant, or Administrative Assistant, cannot be minimized. With the growing complexity of today’s global business world, these professionals are far more than “glorified secretaries”. Rather, they are Office Managers. In that sense, they play an invaluable role. In addition to traditional clerical duties, they manage executives’ schedules, take minutes during meetings, and oversee critical correspondence. In many cases, they are the “face of the office”. They are the first person to greet visitors, the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone, and the gatekeeper who ensures that only relevant matters are brought to the attention of management.

With such a critical role to play, it’s crucial that only the most qualified candidates be considered for Office Assistant positions. Identifying the appropriate person is imperative. You should endeavor to find someone with exceptional organizational abilities, communication skills, and expertise using various office equipment and software. While a resume will give you a good idea of a candidate’s past experience and educational background, the best way to assess their qualifications is through a face-to-face interview.

Asking the right questions is vital to identifying the best candidate for an Office Assistant position. Here are some tips to help you ensure you are asking the kinds of questions that will enable you to hire the best person for the job:

  • Personality – Generally speaking, you should aim to hire someone who is friendly and outgoing, rather than shy and reserved. While a quiet person may very well be completely proficient in all other areas of the job, they probably won’t be as comfortable interacting with others, which will obviously be one of the key components of their job responsibilities. They might also be uncomfortable taking charge and giving directives when necessary. To ascertain what kind of personality they have, ask them how they tend to work with others, how they respond to criticism, and how they would describe their personality. Naturally, you should make your own determinations based on how they interact with you.
  • Proficiency – The ability to perform the duties of the job is paramount. Therefore, it’s essential that you ask candidates about their past experience with office equipment and software, as well as the types of reports and filing systems they will be expected to use. Avoid blanket questions like, “Do you have good computer skills?” Instead, ask them to describe specific programs, operating systems, applications, and social media tools they have used. Have them define their level of proficiency and describe their comfort level with each piece of equipment or application they will be expected to use in your environment.
  • Priority – Any Office Assistant worth their salt is an expert juggler. They can be found juggling dozens of responsibilities at any given time. It’s necessary, therefore, that they know how to prioritize, so that the most pressing matters get their attention first. Ask your candidates how they manage multiple duties at once, what kind of strategy they have employed in the past, and how they would proceed if they did not know what matters were considered top priorities.

A great Office Assistant is a treasure. It just takes a bit of effort to identify the one that’s most appropriate for your company. Once they are onboard, you will realize that effort was time well-spent.

For more advice on interviewing techniques and other aspects of the employment contract, contact High Profile Staffing today.

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