If you have an executive assistant interview coming up, it’s a good idea to plan and practice your answers to ensure you make a good impression on potential employers. Understanding the common questions you’ll likely be asked in your interview can help you prepare.
In this article, we discuss what an executive assistant is and eight common executive assistant interview questions and sample answers, and we offer a list of roles similar to an executive assistant.
What is an executive assistant?
An executive assistant is similar to an administrative assistant or secretary because they assist and support other individuals with their work. However, executive assistants are typically in charge of assisting one executive, and they may train or supervise other office staff. Some of the detailed responsibilities of an executive assistant include:
Answering phones, taking messages and routing phone calls to the correct person
Handling simple bookkeeping tasks
Using computer software programs, such as word processors, email, spreadsheets, and presentation software
Booking travel arrangements for executives
Reading and analyzing incoming memos and submissions
Performing other tasks for executives as requested
8 executive assistant questions and sample answers
Each business may have specific questions regarding your qualifications, the requirements of the job and the executive you’ll be working for. However, here are a few common questions you may be asked during an executive assistant interview, as well as tips on how to answer them:
Why do you want to be an executive assistant?
How do you prioritize tasks on your typical workday as an executive assistant?
How would you rate your computer proficiency?
How do you handle difficult personalities at work?
Have you supervised other office staff members before?
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Provide me with an example of a time you had to collaborate with a team to solve an issue for an executive.
How do you go about anticipating the needs of an executive?
1. Why do you want to be an executive assistant?
The interviewer will likely ask you this question to gain an accurate understanding of your motivation for working as an executive assistant. They will also be gauging whether this is a temporary position for you or a career you are seeking to grow in. It is best if you answer this question honestly and provide details about why you chose to become an executive assistant and what you hope to achieve in the future.
Example: “I chose to become an executive assistant because I thought my skill set would be a great fit for the position. I enjoy organizing, setting up events or meetings and aiding those who need my help. I also knew that I could learn many different things by becoming an executive assistant because each day is different as new challenges present themselves. I hope to continue applying my skills to this important position supporting one of your executives.”
2. How do you prioritize your workday tasks?
You must be highly organized as an executive assistant and plan your days accordingly. Your potential employer will want to get an idea of your process to see if it matches their needs. Identify some key prioritization habits you have in your current or past positions that will help you to organize and prioritize for this future position.
Example: “I prioritize tasks using an electronic to-do list and calendar. I evaluate my deadlines and complete the most pressing or challenging tasks first. I am also able to adapt quickly when new tasks or projects present themselves.”
3. How would you rate your computer proficiency?
Most of your work will likely be completed using computer software systems. Your employer will want to be sure you know how to use these systems accurately. It may be helpful if you provide an overview of the systems you know how to use in your answer.
Example: “I would rate my computer skills as highly proficient. I have worked with a variety of software and I know how to troubleshoot minor computer issues on my own. I know how to make spreadsheets, use word processors and scheduling software.”
4. How do you handle challenging personalities at work?
The interviewer wants to get a sense of your temperament to assess if you will be able to handle the people you may encounter while working as an executive assistant at their organization. It is best to answer this question with understanding and confidence.
Example: “I understand that some personalities I will come across in this position may be difficult. I have the patience and communication skills to effectively handle difficult personalities with ease without becoming personally offended.”
5. Have you supervised other office staff members before?
This question allows you to explain your level of expertise and supervisory experience. If you are asked this question during an interview, then the job will likely require you to supervise others in addition to managing your tasks.
Example: “I have supervised a small group of four team members, including interns and receptionists while completing my work.”
6. How do you handle stress and pressure?
When you are asked this question, it is to assess your mental stamina. Many offices are fast-paced and require tasks to be completed under strict deadlines. Try to mention previous moments that allowed you to handle stress and pressure well.
Example: “I am well-equipped to work in a fast-paced and stressful environment. I have worked well within strict deadlines, and I am willing to put in the work to complete the necessary tasks correctly and on time. I make sure I balance my work with my personal life to avoid burnout, therefore I am continuously refreshed and ready to perform.”
7. Provide an example of collaborating with a team to solve an issue
Most of your work will likely be completed individually, but there will likely be occasions when you have to work with a team to help an executive with a task or project. Try using an example where you can accurately describe the task and the outcome.
Example: “I worked with a team of five to compile and condense many pages of important data for an executive. Our goal was to make the data more readable and actionable so the executive could make a sound decision for the company based on the data. We split our work up into five parts and met daily to discuss progress. Each person contributed, and I compiled the final report with the condensed data and successfully turned in the assignment on time.”
8. How do you go about anticipating the needs of an executive?
The interviewer wants to know how you’ll take action when you learn the behaviors of the executive you support work. Some tasks you complete won’t likely require direction. Describe any processes you have used in the past to observe your supervisor and their needs.
Example: “The best way I’ve learned to anticipate the needs of an executive is to learn their habits by observing their likes and dislikes, as well as their moods on any given day. I then will adapt my work and duties accordingly to anticipate and meet their needs.”
Jobs similar to executive assistants
If you’re exploring executive assistant positions, there are plenty of other similar jobs to consider. Here are 10 roles with related duties and characteristics to executive assistants:
1. Office Coordinator
2. Facilities manager
3. Virtual assistant
4. Administrative assistant
6. Office Assistant
7. Scheduling Coordinator
8. Data entry clerk
9. Personal assistant
10. Administrative manager
I hope you find this article helpful.