So You Want to Be An Admin…

Administrative assistants play a key role in the organizations in which they work. No longer merely “glorified secretaries,” admins are responsible for tending to the administrative operations of the company. Thus, they are crucial to the efficient operations of the unit, department, or company. Fortunately, administrative positions rank high among the most commonly listed jobs.

The duties of an administrative assistant vary greatly, depending upon the department and the company in which they operate. While a front desk admin’s responsibilities may be similar to that of a receptionist – answering incoming calls, greeting visitors, etc. – a marketing administrative assistant will have significantly different duties as he/she supports the marketing function. They include helping to coordinate marketing events, updating marketing communication platforms, organizing special marketing projects, and managing the inventory of promotional items and client gifts. A medical administrative assistant will have even weightier responsibilities, including preparing patient charts, obtaining lab reports, maintaining a safe and hygienic environment, and verifying accuracy of patient insurance information.

Understandably, companies employ a stringent hiring process for these crucial positions. When interviewing for an administrative position, you should expect to be asked a slate of questions designed to determine whether you have what it takes to perform the requisite duties and to thrive in the specific environment in which you would be working.

While each company approaches the hiring process differently – and asks different interview questions – they will undoubtedly ask you questions that hit on the following key areas: 

  • Roles and Responsibilities: The interviewer will want to make sure you truly understand what an administrative assistant – and specifically, an administrative assistant in their industry – does. In today’s tough job market, many people may apply for an admin position, mistakenly assuming that it’s easy and anyone can do it. The goal of the hiring manager is to weed such individuals out of the pool. They will ask questions like, “What do you consider the most important responsibilities of an executive administrative assistant?” They may also ask you to list specific duties you performed on a daily basis on your last administrative job.
  • Technical Capabilities: In today’s world, administrative assistants must have thorough working knowledge of a number of machines, computer programs, and other supporting technology. To ascertain whether you truly possess such abilities, the interviewer will likely ask the following questions:
    • What office applications and systems did you use in your previous job?
    • What specific calendar programs and messaging systems have you used?
    • What kind of experience do you have preparing data graphs and spreadsheets?
    • How have you handled confidential documentation in the past?
  • Previous Employment: Undoubtedly, you will be asked about past positions you have held. These questions may be broad and open-ended, such as “Briefly describe your administrative experience” or they may be more specific, delving into your specific administrative strengths. Many interviewers will ask how you feel your previous experience makes you an ideal candidate for the job. In all instances, focus on the aspects of your previous work that is most applicable to the position for which you are applying. Be prepared to describe exactly how you will apply your past knowledge, experience, and accomplishments to make their department or company run more efficiently.

Much like secretaries and receptionists of decades-past, administrative assistants are the individuals who keep an organization running smoothly. They know what makes the company tick and when something needs attention to keep things moving along. Prepare yourself well and you just may find yourself with a new administrative assistant position sooner than you expected.

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