How to interview an Administrative Assistant in Singapore

By Robert Half on 14 November 2022

Hiring a great Administrative Assistant in Singapore requires two things: knowing what skills, experience and personality traits are necessary to succeed in the role, and recognising those qualities in job candidates.

It sounds simple enough. But as every hiring manager knows, it’s more challenging than it sounds.

The second part of the equation — evaluating the candidate — is best accomplished through the job interview.

Given the nature of this critical role, and the high demands placed upon the individual, interview questions for Administrative Assistants should cover a range of areas that touch equally on technical and soft skills.

Look for a candidate who suits your workplace culture

Hiring people who will be comfortable in your corporate culture takes skill.

Be sure to clearly communicate what it’s like to work at your organisation, and ask questions that shed light on whether the candidate would want to work in an environment similar to yours

Some suitable interview questions could include:

  • What comes to mind when you think of our company? Why do you want to work here?
  • What appeals to you about this administrative job?
  • How do you envision an administrative assistant could contribute to an organisation?
  • In which type of office environment do you excel most?
  • Why did you leave your last administrative assistant position? Or: Why are you looking to leave your current administrative assistant position, and what would have convinced you to stay?

Related: Interview questions for employers to get the ball rolling

Examine their specific skills and experience

Unlike your long-ago predecessors, you’re probably looking for administrative professionals who take on more responsibilities than typing and answering the phone.

Take time to think about what technical skills you need in an Administrative Assistant, such as Word processing and Excel familiarity; whether you’re looking for specific industry experience; and if there are planning, communication, purchasing or customer service skills that would be valuable in this role.

Interview questions exploring a candidate's skills could be:

  • Why do you think you’re well-suited for a position as an administrative assistant, and for this job in particular?
  • What special skills do you possess that will help you do well at our company?
  • How would you describe your comfort level when it comes to (a particular software program)? What is the latest version of this software that you have used?
  • Give me examples of how you’ve used (the program) on the job. What advanced functionalities are you familiar with?
  • What would you consider your biggest professional accomplishment to date? Your biggest professional failure?

Related: Employer interview techniques

Assess relationships and personalities

An important role of Administrative Assistants is to support you and other team members, which means they may have to deal with a range of personalities and priorities.

Is it important to you to find someone who is easygoing or someone more assertive? Respectful? Problem-solving? Diplomatic?

Ask questions to determine whether the candidate has the characteristics you want in the workplace.

  • What type of supervisor helps bring out your best performance?
  • Can you share a piece of constructive feedback a manager has given you? What adjustments, if any, did you make because of that feedback?
  • Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors at once? If so, how did you juggle each person’s priorities?
  • Can you tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in as an administrative assistant and how you handled it?
  • Can you describe the most challenging colleague you’ve had to work with? How did you handle that relationship?

Related: Planning and conducting a job interview

Deeper dive into work styles

Managers often don’t know the work style of candidates until they’re on the job, but it’s worth asking about the way they take direction, their communication style, how they prefer to structure their day and whether they’re adaptive, dependable, efficient, able to multitask and so on.

For an upcoming interview with an Administrative Assistant candidate, you can ask:

  • Can you walk me through a typical day in your current/most recent position?
  • Have you ever reported to multiple supervisors at once? If so, how did you juggle each person’s priorities?
  • What is your first step when given a large project to manage? How would you organise it?
  • Can you describe a challenging project you were assigned in the past and how you approached it?
  • Are there any tools, equipment or procedures you would replace or change at your most recent/current job? If so, what changes would you make and why?

Related: Shortlisting the best candidates

Additional factors

It’s important to find out if the person you’re interviewing is serious about being an Administrative Assistant and understands what the job entails.

You want someone who is genuinely interested in the role — and also in your company.

  • What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on as an administrative assistant?
  • What do you enjoy most about administrative work?
  • How have you changed the administrative assistant position at past companies?
  • What trends do you see impacting the administrative assistant role in the future?

How to interview an Administrative Assistant

Of course, having the right interview questions for Administrative Assistant candidates works best when you have top jobseekers to interview.

Robert Half Singapore can help make the process of finding and hiring an Administrative Assistant easier. Contact us today.

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