Personal assistant jobs can be very demanding. You always need to be alert and have your ears and eyes on the person you are working with. You need to shadow them effectively. In the interview, you will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and experience to handle the demands of the role.
In terms of education requirements, you need to have an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management or Business Administration. A high school diploma can suffice if it is an entry-level position.
To prepare for your next interview, we outline the top 20 questions that you are likely to encounter in a job interview for this role. We also give sample answers that can help you structure yours to ace the interview.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
Give your motivation for applying. Share insights on what made you apply to this job.
“I am interested in this role because I see that my skills and experience match well with the job description. Based on my previous experience I believe that I will be able to effectively execute these duties. I also like the company culture and its commitment to excellence in everything it does. I would therefore love to be part of the team that strives for excellence in the company. I like the company’s commitment to developing its staff. I, therefore, see this as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally and I believe it will be a mutually satisfying relationship.”
2. What Are The Roles Of A Personal Assistant?
The interviewer wants to assess if you know the roles you will play for the company. Share the roles you expect to play while keeping them in line with the job description.
“A personal assistant arranges the diary and booking appointments on behalf of the boss. I will also be involved in organizing meetings and ensuring that all the resources are available for it to run smoothly. I will also be the first point of contact for phone calls and walk-in clients. I will also determine who gets to see the boss. I will also arrange conferences and events on behalf of the manager. I will also make travel arrangements, arrange accommodation and transportation on behalf of my boss. I expect to also attend meetings and take minutes on behalf of my boss.”
3. What Are The Qualities That A Personal Assistant Need To Be Successful?
Personal assistants possess skills that make them stand out in their roles. Share with the interviewer the qualities that will make you successful in this role.
“A personal assistant should portray strong organizational skills. You should also have great communication and interpersonal skills. Great attention to detail is also great as it will ensure that you perform all the duties required. You should also be able to multi-task as you may be required to handle several assignments at the same time. You should be able to have a priority list that will ensure tasks are tackled in the order of importance. You should be great at managing your time as you are likely to be working with a manager with tight schedules. These qualities I have developed in my previous roles as a personal assistant and I know it will come in handy in ensuring that I deliver great results.”
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
This role may cause some challenges. The interviewer is interested in how you were able to solve them. Share a strategy that you used that worked.
“In my first role, I worked for an organization with a very toxic environment. I had a hard time adjusting to the role because I was in the process of learning the work. Among my options, quitting was not one of them. I had to adjust quickly and try and fit in with the organization. I spoke with my coworkers who had worked in the organization for a while to know how they managed to survive in that environment. They gave me useful tips that made it easy for me to adjust.”
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Personal Assistant?
The interviewer is interested in your organizational and planning skills. Give an account of how you will plan your days to ensure maximum productivity.
“I like to report to work at 7: 30 AM so that I can utilize the half-hour before the official workday begins by going through the manager’s diary. I review every appointment, meeting, or event that he has for the day. When he/she arrives I ran him or her through what he is to accomplish for the day. I also check emails and reply; some I ask for the input of the boss. During the day, I attend meetings with the boss and take down notes or minutes on his behalf. In the afternoon I work on any assigned tasks. I also update the boss’s calendar with the upcoming meetings, events, or conferences.”
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
The interviewer is interested in knowing if you are up to the task. Give background information on your experience and how that will help you excel in this role.
“I have four years of experience working with C-level executives. In the four years, I have developed my organizational, interpersonal, planning, time management, and interpersonal skills. These are qualities that an effective personal assistant needs for the job. I am also able to communicate with top-level executives and ensure that their assignments are done with excellence.”
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
You need the right mindset to handle this role well. The interviewer is interested in how you view this role and how that will help you succeed. Share the strategies that you use to ensure the work is done effectively and efficiently.
“You need an innovative as well as a creative mindset. In this role, you need to be sure and also assured. You should be confident and able to show initiative. You need to think strategically to ensure the boss wins at all times.”
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job?
This position will present its own set of unique challenges. Share what you expect to encounter and how you will overcome it.
“The biggest challenge will be adapting to this new environment and getting used to the demands of the new bosses I will be working with. I plan to study their demands fast so that the transition period is smooth and work goes on without interruptions. I also plan to get to know coworkers fast who will help me understand the in-depth culture at this organization. This will also assist me in adapting fast and very well.”
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?
The interviewer is interested in how you can keep going despite the demands of the role. Explain to them what makes you tick.
“To stay motivated, I set goals that I pursue every day. Once I attain a goal, I reward myself to keep my momentum going. I also use my organizational skills to schedule tasks. I ensure that I handle everything on my task list to ensure smooth operations for my boss. Since this role is very demanding, I also strive for a work-life balance that ensures I get to enjoy my hobbies. This re-energizes me for the week ahead.”
10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learnt?
Failure is imminent. Your ability to rise above it is what counts in the workplace. Describe a time you failed and what lessons you learned.
“In a past role, I was very dependent on digital tools that I did not write the appointments in the diary. This system had worked for me for quite some time. Then one time our internet provider suffered downtime and I could not be able to access my calendar. I learned from this experience that overreliance on technology may be wrong in the case of downtimes. Nowadays I use all the tools for both online and offline updating.”
11. Why Do You Feel You Arethe Most Suited For This Role?
Share the unique selling point that differentiates you from the completion. Explain why they should select you for the role.
“My four years of experience as a personal assistant makes me the most suitable for this role as it matches the candidate requirements. I also have honed my organizational, planning, and time management skills over the years. These skills coupled with excellent computer skills make me work effectively. I also have experience working with multiple bosses and I believe this will come in handy as I am able to multi-task and deliver effectively. This coupled with my dedication for excellence will ensure I do a great job here.”
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement.
The moments you are proud of giving the interviewer insights into your personality. Share with them moments you are proud of in your professional life or even personal life that is relevant to the role.
“In a past role, I was managing the diaries of three executives with demanding needs. I was able to effectively manage all their work diaries. I am very proud of this achievement because they gave me great reviews and I won employee of the month. I was told my predecessor was not able to manage the role effectively.”
13. What Have You Done In The Past One Year To Improve Your Skills As A Personal Assistant?
The interviewer wants to assess your commitment to learning and development. Share what you have done and how it has improved your skills and enabled you to handle your job effectively.
“In the past year, I have done an online course on stress management. The demands of this role may make one stressed and therefore I needed strategies on how to handle stress effectively. The strategies have come in handy, especially with the pandemic and working remotely. It has helped me manage the work effectively.”
14. Have You Ever Adjusted A Schedule Due To Unforeseen Circumstances?
Life happens sometimes and schedules may change unexpectedly. Give an example of a time that you had to adjust schedules.
“One time during one of the quarterly meetings, a top executive was delayed in a client meeting. Instead of rescheduling the meeting, I changed the order of the presentation such that he would come last rather than second. This allowed him time to be back in the office and revise his materials a bit. This worked smoothly and everyone was happy.”
15. How Do You Handle An Angry Client Wanting To See A Non Available Executive?
Clients may be having a long day and may want to unleash their stress on anyone they meet. Share with the interviewer how you will handle such a client.
“As a Personal Assistant, I will be sure to put a positive spin on this drama. I will remain calm and speak evenly with the customer to avoid further issues. I will give the client the opportunity to speak to someone else in the company who may be able to assist. If they refuse, I will assure them that the executive will be in touch with them when they are back at the office. I will take their contact details. I will also schedule them for appointments if they insist on seeing the executive.”
16. As A Personal Assistant, How Do You Anticipate The Needs Of Your Boss?
The interviewer is interested in your attention to detail and whether you have your ears and eyes on the ground on behalf of the executive. You can answer this question by outlining your strengths.
“I always endeavor to stay a step ahead of the needs of the executive and the business as a whole. I get involved in the changing needs of the business and the executive. I also filter information to know what is just noise and what the executive needs to know.”
17. How Do You Manage Your Time When Dealing With Multiple Urgent Tasks?
This role may require that you handle several important tasks concurrently. The interviewer is interested in how you will plan the work effectively.
“I like to schedule my tasks based on urgency and work hard at ensuring that everything gets done. I prioritize wisely and set my goals effectively. I plan ahead and set time limits for tasks that I handle. I also ensure that non-essential tasks are removed from my to-do lists so that I can concentrate on what is more important. These strategies have worked in ensuring that I deliver excellent results.”
18. Do You Have Experience Working With A Demanding Boss?
The interviewer wants to know if you are able to handle pressure at work. Give a genuine scenario of when you had to deal with a demanding boss and the strategies that worked in handling them.
“Yes, I have worked with a demanding boss. I sat down with her to determine the issues that make her very demanding. I realized that she had a lot of work to handle and was not delegating appropriately. I requested that she should delegate some to me to help out to reduce pressure on her. She agreed and our work relationship became better.”
19. How Do You Manage A Lot Of Pressure At Work?
Since this is a demanding role, you need to have a strategy for dealing with pressure. Give your strategies for this.
“This role can come with pressure especially when you haven’t planned yourself well. Starting out I had challenges but I realized that I needed to work on my planning skills. Now I manage pressure really well because I plan ahead and use effective stress management strategies to ensure I do not get overwhelmed with work.”
20. Describe Your Computer Skills.
Technology is increasingly being used to schedule tasks. Give an account of the proficiency of your skills with computers.
“I am excellent with computers have done a diploma in Information Technology to improve my skills. In particular, I am great with Microsoft Office especially Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I am also great at the Google Suite products as I have utilized them in my work before. I am great at managing google calendars and setting up meetings via Google Meet and also Zoom. These skills have enabled me to handle my work with ease.”
This role may attract many applicants. Your ability to demonstrate impeccable organizational, planning, and communication skills will make you stand out from the competition. Demonstrate your confidence and you will ace the interview. Tailor the above answers to the industry you are applying in.