If you’re an executive, you rely on your administrative assistant to keep you on course.
But what makes that person so good at their job? What qualities should you look for in a candidate next time you need to hire a new assistant? (Because, let’s face it, great administrative assistants are upwardly mobile.)
TPD Workforce Manager Matt Gillie places administrative roles from reception to administrative assistant, entry-level to career professional. He has noticed that the most successful administrators have several qualities and skills in common.
Let’s review the top five skills of a stellar administrative assistant, along with interview questions you can ask to help pinpoint these characteristics in a candidate.
Organizational and Time Management Skills
“Since administrative assistants usually find themselves supporting multiple individuals or departments, it is important that they can organize and manage their time and resources effectively,” he says.
In many cases, they may support multiple departments or projects at once, so the ability to be flexible and keep track of details is key.
Interview question: What daily habits have you developed in your career that make you more effective?
Strong Communication Skills
This person may be required to make phone calls on behalf of an executive, as well as write or edit their written and digital correspondence, memos and reports. It’s no wonder, then, that the best administrative assistants have strong written and verbal communication skills.
Interview question: Tell me about a time when there was a communication breakdown between you and a work colleague. How did you resolve the issue?
Experience Using Standard Office Tools and Technology
Employers expect their administrative assistants to know how to use standard office equipment and navigate common office technology. Solid experience with the Microsoft Office suite of products is mandatory in most situations, as the administrative assistant is likely to be the person sending out emails, creating written documents and spreadsheets for the executive.
Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you used technology to help you solve a problem. In addition, many employers ask candidates to take a skills assessment test for the clearest evaluation of their knowledge.
Problem Solving Skills
The administrative assistant often is the ‘go-to’ person whenever a staff member has a question or a problem. An assistant who can think on their feet and quickly resolve issues is an asset in the office.
“Problem-solving skills also tie in very closely to time management skills,” said Gillie. “Employers will often look for individuals who are ‘self-sufficient’ and actively handle issues on their own.”
Interview Question: Tell me about a time where you needed to go above and beyond to search for a vital solution to a company problem.
In line with great communication skills, good administrative assistants are friendly and interact well with co-workers, clients, vendors and stakeholders.
Their personalities should fit with the team, said Gillie. They should project professionalism and offer good customer service.
Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you had to work with a co-worker you did not like or trust.
Are you in need of a top-tier administrative assistant?
If you’re on the search for an all-star administrative assistant, get in touch with the TPD team today! We’re ready to help you find your right-hand man.