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Your Administrative Interview Survival Guide

It’s no secret that administrative professionals have a wide variety of duties; in fact, this aspect of administrative positions is often what makes them irreplaceable. From receptionists to administrative assistants to executive assistants at all levels, each job description differs: an executive assistant at one company may have vastly different responsibilities than an executive assistant at another, for example.

What remains the same for all is the necessity to impress on an interview. Because these positions vary so widely, it’s important to know how to approach an interview to show the hiring manager why you’d be the perfect fit for their role specifically. So if you’re looking for a new opportunity and an interview is fast-approaching, make sure you brush up on these tips to ensure you ace it:

Do your research.

  • Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, history, and values. Whatever information is publicly available can be great material for conversation in an interview to show that you’re invested in the company.
  • Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. Do you have any similarities? Search for anything you can briefly mention, such as a shared skill or connection, to relate to your interviewer early on.
  • Make sure you understand the job description. According to Kim Caruso, a Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support/Human Resources division, “a good candidate goes in prepared and utilizes the end of the interview to ask deeper questions.”

Know your skills, experiences, and strengths.

  • Just like you would with a resume, tailor your interview answers to each job you apply for. You may have an arsenal of skills, but focus on those that apply directly to the position and the company’s needs.
  • Have an example or two of your past accomplishments. “I always tell candidates that it’s important to keep a few general success stories in your back pocket, figuratively speaking,” says Lindsey Thompson, an Executive Recruiter within The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support/Human Resources division. “This way, if an interviewer asks a question you aren’t prepared for, you have something to start with.”

Be prepared to speak about weaknesses.

  • Employers are likely going to ask you about your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Be sure to avoid any clichés like “I’m a perfectionist” and opt for something a bit more honest and original.
  • Keep your answers technical and avoid focusing on anything behavioral or personality-related.
  • Show how you’ve improved upon that weakness. This is a good time to bring out one of those examples you prepared!

Remain open to salary offers and expectations.

  • When working with an executive recruiter, he or she will typically negotiate salary for you. Staying flexible gives them more leeway to get you the best offer the employer is capable of.
  • If you aren’t working with a recruiter, take a look at our article on becoming a better salary negotiator.

Close the interview out with a few questions.

  • Since you researched your employer ahead of time, the last few minutes of your interview should be focused on learning more in-depth details about the position beyond its description.
  • Prepare 2-3 questions ahead of time. If you’re having trouble, try picking from this list.
  • Avoid questions about salary, benefits, and scheduling in the first round interview; save these for later on in the process or when you receive an offer.