Interview

19 Executive Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an executive assistant, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Executive assistants provide support to high-level executives in a company. They work with a variety of tasks, including managing schedules, handling correspondence, and organizing meetings. They also may be responsible for travel arrangements, creating reports, and handling other clerical duties.

If you’re looking to become an executive assistant, you’ll need to be able to answer questions about your skills and past experience. Review the following executive assistant interview questions and answers before your next interview.

What is your greatest strength as an executive assistant?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and how you might fit into their office. They want to know if you are a hard worker, organized or detail-oriented. To answer this question, think about what you feel is your strongest skill. Think about the skills that help you do your job well.

Example: “My greatest strength as an executive assistant is my ability to stay organized. I keep all of my employer’s important documents in a file cabinet, and I have a system for filing everything. I also use a calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines. This helps me stay on top of my work and ensure that my employer knows about important meetings and appointments.”

Why do you want to be an executive assistant?

This question can help the interviewer understand what motivates you to do your job well. It can also help them see if you have the right skills and experience for the role. When answering this question, it can be helpful to talk about a specific experience that led you to want to be an executive assistant.

Example: “I want to be an executive assistant because I love helping others succeed. I had an executive assistant when I was in college who helped me get through some challenging times. She was always so kind and encouraging, and she helped me get through my classes and my internship. I want to be someone who can offer that same support to others.”

How did you become interested in the role of an executive assistant?

This question allows you to share your career path with the interviewer. When answering this question, it can be helpful to talk about a specific moment that inspired you to pursue a career as an executive assistant.

Example: “I became interested in this role when I was in college. I was working as a part-time receptionist for a small business, and the company’s CEO was looking for an executive assistant. I applied for the role, and although I didn’t get it, I learned a lot about what the role entailed and how to be successful in it. I continued to pursue the role, and when the opportunity presented itself, I was ready to take it on.”

Do you know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint?

The interviewer may ask you this question to see if you have experience using the most common office software. If you have experience with these programs, let the interviewer know. If you don’t, let them know what other programs you do know how to use.

Example: “I’ve worked in an office setting for the last five years, so I’m very familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I also know how to use Google Docs and Dropbox, which are both very useful tools for collaborating with team members. I’m always willing to learn new things, though, so I’m open to learning new programs as needed.”

Have you ever worked with confidential information?

As an executive assistant, you may be privy to confidential information about your employer or their clients. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of keeping information confidential. In your answer, explain that you understand the importance of keeping information private. Explain that you would never share confidential information with anyone.

Example: “I have worked with confidential information in the past. I understand the importance of keeping it private. I would never share any confidential information with anyone, even if they asked me to. I would make sure to shred any documents that contained confidential information before throwing them away. I would also make sure to keep my voice low when talking about confidential information in the office.”

Have you ever provided secretarial support to multiple executives at once?

This question is an opportunity to showcase your organizational skills and ability to multitask. When answering, it can be helpful to describe a specific time when you supported multiple executives and how you managed the task.

Example: “I have worked with multiple executives at once, and I find that it’s important to remain organized and prioritize tasks. In my previous role, I supported two executives at once, and I found that I had to be more diligent about checking my calendar and setting reminders for important deadlines. I also had to ensure that I was always prepared with necessary materials for any meetings or presentations. Overall, I find it’s important to remain organized and prioritize tasks so that I can meet the needs of multiple executives.”

What was the highest level of education that you’ve completed?

Interviewers may ask this question to see if you’re qualified for the position. They may also want to know what your educational background is to see if you have any experience in the field. In your answer, try to highlight any relevant courses you took or degrees you earned.

Example: “I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles. I chose this major because I wanted to learn more about how businesses work and how I could help them succeed. I took a lot of business-related courses, including marketing, finance and human resources. I also took a few computer science courses because I wanted to learn how computers can help businesses.”

Have you ever trained a new assistant?

This question can give the interviewer insight into your leadership skills and ability to train others. You can answer this question by describing a time when you trained someone new to the role of executive assistant.

Example: “When I first started my career as an executive assistant, my boss was on maternity leave. I was the only assistant in the office, so I had to take on all of her responsibilities. After a few weeks, my boss returned to work and I trained her on the things I had learned while she was gone. She was very grateful for the training and said that it helped her get back into the flow of things more quickly.”

What would you say is your greatest success as an executive assistant?

This question is an opportunity to highlight your skills and accomplishments. It’s a great way to show the interviewer that you’re proud of your work and that you’re willing to take credit for it. When answering this question, try to pick something that highlights your skills, such as organization or communication.

Example: “I would say my greatest success as an executive assistant was when I helped my last employer set up a new calendar system. I worked with the IT department to create a calendar that was accessible to all employees and streamlined communication. I also created a color-coded system for each employee’s availability, which helped managers see who was available for meetings and who was busy. The system saved the company a lot of time and money.”

Have you ever had disagreements with other staff members or colleagues? If so, how did you handle those situations?

This question can help interviewers understand how you work with others and how you resolve conflicts. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you can work with others and resolve conflicts in a positive way.

Example: “In my previous role, I had a disagreement with a coworker who was also my manager. I was working on a project and needed some information from my manager. My manager was busy and couldn’t help me, so I asked another coworker for help. My coworker gave me the information I needed, but my manager was upset that I had asked someone else for help. I apologized to my manager and explained that I had just needed the information and didn’t mean to offend them. My manager understood and we worked out a better system for communicating.”

Can you describe a time when you found an alternative solution to a problem?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you approach challenges and how you find solutions to problems. Describe a time when you found an alternative solution to a problem that helped your organization.

Example: “When I worked for a small business, the CEO was looking for a new software program to help manage the company’s finances. He was considering a program that was very expensive, and I knew we couldn’t afford it. I researched other programs that were similar to the one he was looking at, and I found one that was much less expensive. The CEO was impressed with my research and decided to go with the cheaper program.”

Have you ever needed to implement changes to policies or procedures?

This question can help the interviewer gauge how you adapt to change and how you implement it. Use examples from your previous experience to highlight your ability to adapt to new situations and implement change.

Example: “At my previous employer, we had a policy that required all employees to be at work by 9 a.m. However, I noticed that some employees were late to work on occasion, and it was causing the company to lose clients. I approached my employer with my concerns and suggested that we change the policy to allow employees to come in later if they were working on projects or needed more time to get ready for work. My employer agreed, and we changed the policy. The company lost no clients after the change, and employees were happier because they had more flexibility.”

Describe a time when you experienced stress at work and how you handled it.

An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your ability to handle stress and challenges in the workplace. This question also gives them the opportunity to see how you handle stress in a professional setting and how you might help your manager if they experience stress at work.

Example: “I once had a very busy day at work where I was helping my manager with many different tasks, while also helping other employees with their tasks. I was feeling overwhelmed, and I told my manager that I was stressed and needed a break. She understood and gave me a short break to take a deep breath and regain my focus. After my break, I returned to work and handled my tasks with ease and confidence.”

Have you ever felt like your workload was too much to handle?

This question can allow you to show your problem-solving skills and ability to prioritize your work. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a time when you felt overwhelmed and how you overcame it.

Example: “Yes, I have felt like my workload was too much to handle at times. When this happened, I would start by prioritizing my work and focusing on the most important tasks. I would then delegate tasks to other members of my team when possible. This helped me get through my workday and helped my team members learn more about their roles. I also made sure to take breaks throughout the day to help me focus and stay energized.”

How would you approach a situation where you were unsure about something and didn’t know who to ask?

This question can give the interviewer insight into your problem-solving skills and how you approach challenges. Your answer should highlight your ability to gather information and use your initiative to find the right person to ask.

Example: “If I’m unsure about something, I would first try to find the answer myself. If I can’t find the answer, I would try to ask someone who might know. If that person doesn’t know, I would ask them who might know. I would keep asking until I found someone who could give me the answer or direct me to someone who could.”

What would you do if you received criticism from one of your executives?

As an executive assistant, you may be responsible for helping your executives improve their work. This question helps employers understand how you might respond to constructive criticism. Use your answer to highlight your willingness to help others and your ability to provide helpful feedback.

Example: “I would first make sure that the executive understood the feedback I was giving them. Then, I would help them develop a plan to improve their work. I would let them know that I was always available to help them with their tasks, no matter how small or large. I would also use my own experience and skills to help them find ways to improve their work.”

How would you respond if you saw misconduct occurring within your organization and your chain of command wouldn’t take action?

This question is a test of your integrity and willingness to take action when you see something wrong. Your response should show that you would take action even if it meant going against the wishes of your boss.

Example: “If I saw misconduct within my organization, I would report it to my superiors. If they didn’t act, I would report it to someone higher up the chain of command until I found someone who would take action. I would do this because I believe that it is my responsibility to report misconduct and that it’s the job of the company to ensure that employees are acting ethically.”

How would you handle a situation where you made a mistake?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you respond to challenges and learn from your mistakes. It can also show them how you react to constructive criticism. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and that you are eager to learn from your mistakes.

Example: “If I made a mistake, I would first apologize to my manager and explain what I plan to do to fix the situation. Then, I would try my best to fix the mistake as quickly as possible. If the mistake was something that could not be fixed, I would make sure to find a solution that would benefit everyone involved. I would also make sure to learn from the mistake so that I can prevent it from happening again in the future.”

How do you distinguish yourself from other potential candidates for the role?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your unique skills and abilities. They want to know what makes you a good fit for their company. When answering this question, think about the skills and qualifications you have that are most relevant to the role. If you have experience with the company’s software or you have a background in the industry, be sure to mention those things.

Example: “I have three years of experience as an executive assistant, and I have experience with the software you use in your company. I also have a background in accounting and finance, which means I can help with your financial reporting and bookkeeping. I am eager to learn more about your company and how I can help with your operations.”

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