29 Interview Questions to Ask a Chief Administrative Officer
When you apply for a job as an executive assistant, the company may need to interview you more than once. During an interview for a job as an executive assistant, you will be asked about your skills and abilities as well as how you would act in different situations. If you know the most likely questions you’ll be asked in your interview, you’ll be ready to do well. This article talks about some of the most common interview questions for executive assistants, why they are asked, and how to answer them. Ask a Chief Administrative Officer
Questions for a job interview with an operational executive assistant
If you want to be an executive assistant, you can expect to be asked about your technical skills and how you would work as an assistant. During an interview for a position as an executive assistant, questions like:
- How good are you at using a computer?
- What kinds of programs for running a business do you know?
- What do you think are the most important skills for a high-level assistant to have?
- What do you do on a typical day at work as an executive assistant?
- Do you know how to make reports and put them together?
- Tell me about a time you worked with other people on a project.
- What do you know about our company, and how do your skills work well in our office?
- Tell me about a time as an executive assistant when you did your best work.
- What do you think your best skills are when it comes to planning an event?
- The best executive assistants can figure out what their boss will need before the boss asks. How do you know what you need to know when you need it without being told?
- Do you think it’s important for an executive assistant to know how to lead? Which skills are the most important?
- Can you get things done quickly?
Situational executive assistant interview questions
The hiring manager for your executive assistant job may ask you some of these common situational questions at your interview to see if your instincts and skills are right for the job:
- Talk about a time when you had to do more than one thing at once and had to decide what was most important.
- What is the best thing you’ve done as an executive assistant?
- How do you decide what to do first when you help more than one person?
- What do you do when people ask you different things?
- What would you do if another employee asked to see sensitive documents without the right permissions?
- Tell me about a time when you and a coworker had different ideas on how to solve a problem. How did you fix the problem?
- Tell me about how you set up a meeting for your boss, from planning to the actual meeting.
- As an executive assistant, you may have to deal with people who are hard to get along with. How do you deal with people who are not like you?
- How do you handle tasks on a project that isn’t going as planned?
- You only have a short amount of time to finish your assignment and need more help, but you can’t share sensitive information. How should you handle this situation?
- How would you feel if your boss asked you to work on the weekend because a project is behind schedule?
- Tell me about a time when a company’s executive assistant asked you to work with them. How did the group function as a whole?
Sample answers to questions asked at an interview for a job as an executive assistant
Here are some of the most common and important questions an interviewer will ask an executive assistant, why they ask them, and some sample answers:
What do you think are your most valuable skills as an executive assistant?
This question gives you a chance to show that you know what an executive assistant is supposed to do and that you can connect that knowledge to skills you already have. When answering the question, choose two or three skills you think are important for an executive assistant. Explain what the skills are, why an executive assistant needs them, and how you learned them or have used them in your work.
Example: “I think my best skill is making decisions. In my last job, I helped a person in charge of a building project. For one project, a contractor called me to tell me about a problem that hadn’t been thought of. I knew that one of my jobs as an executive assistant was to call when the project manager couldn’t be reached. So, I looked at the problem, talked to the contractor about the two ways he could solve it, and read the project manager’s notes about similar situations. I chose an option that would let the crew get back to work that day instead of having to wait until the PM was free the next day. The project kept going and got done on schedule.”
Do you like having more than one job?
This question gives you a chance to show how well you can handle many projects, tasks, and deadlines at the same time. You can say if you like to focus on one task at a time or if you like to do things in order of deadline or difficulty.
Example: “I can do more than one thing at once if I have to, but I prefer to focus on just one thing at a time. This lets me focus on the most important projects and get more done on them than if I worked on small parts of all of them at the same time. At my old job, I often had to finish or work on several important projects every day. I looked for important deadlines every morning and put them in order of how important they were. Once I had everything in order, I could move steadily through my list of things to do each day. My boss was happy with how I did under this system, and I always got good reviews of my work.”
Which of your skills makes it easiest for you to describe what the company needs to outside contractors?
Use this as an opportunity to show how well you get along with others. This is important for an executive assistant to know because they often have to talk to people outside of the company. Showcase your communication skills and give examples from a previous job to show how you’ve used them to get good results in a professional setting. The answer itself shows how well you can communicate, so make sure you use the tone and style you describe when you answer.
Example: “I think I’m a very friendly person, and I’ve found that this is a very useful trait when working with contractors and other professionals from outside my company. At my last job, I hired outside contractors to do all of the building’s maintenance. I kept my calls friendly but professional, and as a result, I built long-lasting relationships with good professionals who helped me get competitive rates on all my projects.
I can also be very firm when the situation calls for it. At my last job, a contractor we had worked with for a long time started to do bad work. I told them what we were worried about and what we wanted from the work. I ended the contract when the results kept falling short of what we wanted. I started doing business with a new company that could meet my organization’s high standards.”
Tell me about a time when you noticed a problem and did something to fix it on your own.
This question gives you a chance to talk about a time when you went the extra mile for your boss at a previous job. Choose a time when you solved a problem on your own and tell what happened, what you did, and why it worked out well.
Example: “In my last job, I set up a meeting between my boss and a potential client who was interested in a partnership that could be profitable. When the clients came to the presentation, they brought more staff members than we had planned for. Unfortunately, the room we had for the presentation wasn’t big enough, and our larger conference room didn’t have the right technology for the pitch that the company had planned.
I called our tech department and told them to set up the larger room as soon as possible. They needed about 30 minutes, so I quickly and quietly told my boss we were going to be late. The tech team had more time to work because he was able to make the first meeting last longer in his office. We were able to fit everyone in the bigger room, and the client liked our presentation, which led to a deal.”
Tell me about a time when you had to talk to a client or coworker about something private while answering their question. How did you handle the situation?
An employer might want to know if they can trust you with private information. You can use this question to show that you know what to do and care about privacy. When you answer the question, be more general about the information in your example to protect the privacy of your previous employer and show that you respect this privacy even when you’re not at work.
Example: “As an executive assistant, I have to be very careful with private information, and I always take extra steps to protect the privacy of my boss. At my old job, I had to bring in a staff member who didn’t have the right clearance because there was an emergency. Before I talked to them, I had a short conversation with my boss about what, if anything, could be shared with the employee. This was done to make sure no one got confused or told too much.
Even though the rules for the interaction were very strict because the information was sensitive, I used the guidelines my boss gave me to let the employee know how urgent the situation was and what needed to be done without breaking any rules of confidentiality.”
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