It is always good to plan for your upcoming interview by brainstorming possible questions and coming up with unique answers. Remember, you will only get the job if you leave a good impression.
In this article, we will look at executive assistant interview questions that you may be asked in your upcoming interview. We have also included our answers to act as a guide on how to tackle them. Therefore, take some time to go through them.
However, before we embark on our main agenda, let us first find out who an executive assistant is. This is a professional who assists and supports an executive member of staff. They may also train and supervise other office employees.
Here are some of the questions that you should expect in such an interview:
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
This is a common opening question in interviews. The interviewer will possibly use your answer as a foundation for follow-up questions. One may also use it to determine whether you are a perfect fit for the job from the word go.
I have vast experience in this field, having worked in several companies before. I am a great believer in your company’s management style and would like to use my expertise and years of experience for the betterment of your company. This job will also help me experience your lauded company culture, which I have always wanted to be part of. I, therefore, promise to deliver if given a chance.
2. What Are Some of The Roles of an Executive Assistant?
Do you understand what your mandates are in this job? The best way to approach such a question is to either refer to the provided job description or mention some of your roles in your previous place of work. However, make sure that all the roles are job-specific
An executive assistant offers administrative support to an executive, maintains comprehensive records, and performs minor administrative duties. They also organize and schedule meetings, answer phone calls professionally, welcome visitors, identify their visiting purposes, and manage the executive’s calendar while prioritizing sensitive matters.
3. What Are Some of The Qualities That an Executive Assistant Requires To Be Effective?
Every job comes with its required set of qualities. These may be skills or attributes aimed at making you better in your role. The best approach to this question is to mention the qualities that have seen you through in your career. However, ensure that they are related to this job.
An executive assistant must have excellent communication and organization skills, given that the perfect execution of their role greatly relies on them. They must also show high professionalism, outstanding collaborative skills, and a high appetite to learn. They must also have good leadership skills, given that part of their job may also involve supervising others.
4. What Is The Main Challenge That You Faced During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage It?
Interviewers usually ask such a question to determine if you are a problem solver. The best approach is to offer an experience that shows you are a good problem solver and can face any challenge that comes your way. Desist from being a whiner.
During my last role, the main problem was clients who would get angry whenever they found the executive absent. Most of them even grew verbally abusive. I listened to them calmly before apologizing, taking their message and assuring them that I would relay it to the executive as fast as possible. I also paired them with people who would help them out in the absence of the executive.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine
This is a common question in interviews used to determine your main expectations in the new job and some of the things you regularly did in your previous job. Pick a busy day and explain it to the interviewer.
My day begins early. I usually report to the office and plan my day. I will then go through my emails, and answer missed phone calls before taking appointments. The rest of my day will be spent managing the executive’s diary, making travel plans, liaising with clients and senior staff members, arranging meetings and conferences, attending meetings, and taking minutes.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
The interviewer wants an overview of some of the places you have worked in before or the roles you occupied. The best way to approach this question is to give a summary of your experiences.
This is my seventh year in this field. I first worked at KYZ Company, where I was the executive assistant for the chief executive officer. I managed his diary, took care of his appointments, attended meetings, and wrote minutes. I then moved to BYZ Resource Centre, where I supervised other junior staff members and worked as an executive assistant to the CEO. In my last workplace, I was the executive assistant for the chief managing officer of operations. This is a role I maintained till recently.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required For This Role
This question does not have a specific answer. You just need to mention a strategy and mindset that works for you. However, make sure that you can relate them to the job. Remember, the interviewer can also ask follow-up questions.
When going about this job, the best strategy is to embrace collaborative work and invest in strong organizational skills. These two play an essential role in the dispensation of my duties as an executive assistant. You need to work with others to arrange meetings and book travels. As for the right mindset, one needs to be accommodative, given the different personalities that we come across in this job.
8. Mention a Challenge That You Foresee In This Role
Every job comes with its fair share of challenges. The interviewer expects you to have done your research and identified a few areas you may find problematic once you land the job. However, do not come off as incompetent.
I have gone through your work culture and policies. I am glad about my findings since you have bridged most of the problems that I faced in my former workplaces. However, I have also seen that part of the job description involves supervising other workers. Even though this may not be a problem, I may need to be brought up to speed on some of your policies regarding supervision.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In This Job?
What keeps you going? This is an important question that seeks to understand where you get the push to report to work every day. The best way of approaching this question is to mention intrinsic motivating factors and not material benefits such as money.
I love my job. This passion gives me the strength to push on regardless of the challenges that I face. I am also focused on achieving results and beating deadlines. I have taught myself never to give up until I have achieved everything I set out to do. Lastly, my desire to leave a positive impact in my place of work also keeps me going.
10. Mention a Time When You Failed In This Job. What Did You Learn?
Admitting failure does not make you weak or incompetent. However, when answering such a question, make sure that you do not throw yourself under the bus. Do not mention an experience that will make you look incompetent.
I once failed to confirm the travel plans that I had made for the CEO of a company I was working on, which saw him miss his flight. However, we managed to reschedule, and he traveled later in the day. This experience taught me to be thorough in my job and not leave anything to chance.
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11. Your Job As an Executive Assistant Requires You To Prioritize Work. How Do You Go About That?
The interviewer is assessing your organizational skills. You need to know how to plan your work lest you fall behind. You can choose to identify several key prioritization habits in your current or previous positions that will help you properly organize your work.
I have come to learn that prioritizing work makes me more efficient and helps me meet my deadlines. I, therefore, use an electronic to-do list and a calendar. To ensure that I meet all my deadlines, I usually handle the most pressing tasks first before focusing on the less challenging ones. My time and experience in this field have also taught me to adapt quickly whenever I am faced with new projects.
12. Kindly Enlighten Us On Your Computer Proficiency.
Keep in mind that you will mostly rely on computer software systems for most of your work. Therefore, it would help if you convinced your potential employers that you know how to use them well. You can also list some of the systems that you love and know how to use.
Having been in this field for quite some time and sharpened my computer skills, I would rate them highly proficient. I have vast experience working with several computer software and programs that are essential to my job. I can also troubleshoot several issues, make spreadsheets and use word processors. I also know how to use scheduling software.
13. Your Work Involves Lots of Pressure and Stress. How Do You Cope?
You need to show the interviewer that you can handle the pressure and stress of this job. Depending on your office and executive, you may be required to handle many tasks at a relatively shorter duration. While answering this question, you may also mention previous moments where you impressively dealt with pressure and stress.
I have worked in fast-paced and stressful environments before and understand what it takes to succeed. I know how to meet strict deadlines and can put in the necessary work and execute tasks efficiently. I also know how to balance work and my personal life, an attribute that has helped me significantly avoid burnout.
14. How Do You Normally Anticipate The Needs of an Executive?
This is an operational question that seeks to understand how you go about your activities once your executive’s actions become clear. You can mention some of the means you have used in the past to observe your executive and establish their needs.
I have realized that the best way of anticipating the needs of an executive is to watch them closely and observe both their likes and dislikes. This helps in knowing their habits. Knowing their moods also comes in handy in need of anticipation. Once I know their needs from their likes and dislikes, I will then adapt my work and roles accordingly to meet them.
15. Have You Ever Supervised Other Team Members?
The interviewer is assessing your level of expertise and supervisory experience. You will mainly be asked such a question if part of your job description is to supervise other people alongside performing your routine tasks. Therefore, convince the interviewer that you are up to the task at hand.
I have supervised several employees in my years as an executive assistant. During my last role, I was in charge of a small team of junior employees, such as interns and receptionists. I was mandated to supervise them and see to it that they performed their roles.
16. You Must Have Come Across Difficult Personalities In Your Line of Work. How Do You Handle Them?
This question seeks to assess your temperament and whether you can handle all personalities in your role as an executive assistant. The best approach to this question is by showing high levels of understanding and confidence.
I understand that people come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. I, therefore, strive to accommodate all of them, including those with difficult personalities. This is made possible by my vast patience and communication skills. I can handle a range of personalities without being offended.
17. What Is Your Take on Team Work?
This is a common question asked in interviews to assess whether you can work with others harmoniously. Therefore, the best approach is to convince the interviewer that you can both work independently and in teams.
Even though most of my roles require me to work independently, I have also grown fond of working in teams. I once worked with a team to put together a multiple pages report, which I could not have achieved independently. I, therefore, believe that teamwork is necessary on several occasions as it simplifies work and makes delivery easier.
18. What Would You Do If Another Top-Level Executive Asked You About Confidential Information That The CEO gave you?
Your job as an executive assistant may see you access some of the most confidential information about the company. You must therefore maintain high levels of confidentiality and discretion. Show the interviewer that you can handle company politics well without gossiping, breaching confidentiality, and making unnecessary comments that may give away your superior.
I have high regard for confidentiality. I will politely deny having any information to share with the executive, given that I am not authorized to disclose any information given to me by the Chief Executive Officer or any other top-level officer.
19. How Would You Handle an Angry Client Who Wants To Speak With an Absent Executive?
You need to be pleasant and professional when dealing with different types of clients. The interviewer is trying to assess your client handling skills and whether you can make a good gatekeeper. Show that you are resourceful, diplomatic, and possess quality customer service skills.
I have learned the importance of staying calm when dealing with people. When faced with such a client, I will speak calmly and try to spin the interaction in a positive direction. If the conflict is escalating, I will politely take the message and convince the client that I will relay the information to the executive and ensure that they are contacted as soon as possible. I may also refer the customer to somebody who may help them.
20. What Value Do You Believe That You Bring To The Company?
The interviewer wants to know how you view the role. Do you feel that you are an integral part of the company? While answering this question, ensure that you exude passion for the job, show that you understand how you fit into a larger team, and are motivated for the job.
I believe that I am an integral part of the company due to my executive assistant role. I make the lives of executives smoother and simpler, allowing them to focus on more pressing issues. I also help in making critical business decisions and averting crises.
These are some of the questions that you should expect in an executive assistant interview. Ensure that you come up with unique answers that will leave a good impression on the interviewing panel. Also, take some time and polish your interview skills to increase your chances of landing a job.