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20 interview questions for an office administrator


Office administrators play an integral role in the office world, so hiring the right one for your workplace is essential. Businesses rely on office administrators to smoothly conduct various day-to-day operations, from managing databases to filing sensitive information.

Asking the right questions and giving applicants relevant skills tests, such as a Microsoft Excel skills test, can help you decide between two candidates in your applicant pool.

What can you ask when interviewing candidates for this role? Here are 20 questions with example answers that can help you get to know them better.

1. Why do you want to be an office administrator?

Asking your candidate this question can help you understand their career ambitions and motivations on a deeper level.

For instance, candidates could tell you that they enjoy using their organizational skills to make a positive change in a company, like organizing staff events or finding ways to complete routine tasks more efficiently. 

Some candidates may also refer to their future job goals, such as becoming a business manager, and explain how office administration can help them gain the valuable skills like computing knowledge and task management necessary to further their careers. 

Applicants’ answers can differ significantly, but the best ones should show their enthusiasm for administration, organization, and planning. 

2. What do you find most challenging about jobs in this field?

What a candidate finds challenging about a role can be as eye-opening as what they enjoy. Asking this question can tell you more about the areas they’re weaker in.

Here are some examples of answers candidates may give:

  • Meeting deadlines

  • Working in a large team

  • Using complex data processing software

The most important thing to look for in a candidate’s response is how they plan to use their problem-solving abilities to overcome these challenges. Candidates who provide solutions to their challenges are those who are most interested in continuous progression.

3. Why would you be the best fit for this administrative position?

As a hiring manager, you should look for administrative candidates who provide answers that describe their experience and skills, including the following:

  • Communication

  • Time management

  • Problem-solving abilities

  • Technical skills

Skills like these help office administrators stay productive and work in a team while operating computing software, organizing events, and processing data. 

Candidates could also discuss their relevant work experience and provide examples of when they used desirable administrative skills like time management and organization. 

They might refer to times when they finished a project with a tight deadline, improved their data processing methods to avoid logging errors, or scheduled an event with many attendees in a short time frame.

4. What technologies have helped you in your past administrator jobs?

From spreadsheets to calendars, many sites, apps, and devices help office administrators complete their responsibilities. The following are a few ways such technologies benefit office administrators: 

  • Saving time

  • Reducing human errors

  • Increasing the quality of work

Candidates should give examples of not only what technologies they use but also how they use them to do their job well. For instance, an ideal candidate could explain how these tools enhance their daily activities and their impact on the business overall, such as cost savings, improved efficiency, and fewer errors.

5. How do you make sure your work is error-free?

Office administrators complete many tasks, like writing emails or recording meeting notes, that require error-free writing.

Interviewees should be able to explain how they ensure their work meets a high standard of quality. Answers to this question may focus on proofreading and the tools candidates use to perform this task, such as Grammarly.

Top candidates will also mention how attentiveness is vital to their quality control process. To test this ability, why not use TestGorilla’s Attention to Detail skills test to ensure you focus on the most thorough candidates? 

6. What type of work environment do you prefer?

The top interviewee’s responses will indicate that their preferences align with your company’s work environment, so asking this question is vital.

For instance, if they discuss their background working in small offices with only a handful of people or in remote settings, they may not be accustomed to collaborating with many other workers in large offices with multiple teams.

If this is the case, you can follow up by asking how the candidate plans to adapt their communication style to match your working environment. 

An ideal candidate might explain how they’re productive and communicative in a vast range of working environments and enjoy the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues. These candidates may have personality attributes that match your company’s values and culture.

7. Do you have experience working remotely?

Working from home has increased significantly since the pandemic, with many businesses adopting a remote or hybrid working structure..

If your open role is partially or fully remote, it’s useful to gauge whether your candidate has any experience working remotely to measure whether they’re productive and communicative without direct supervision.

This is a great question to add to your list if your company offers flexible working options, including remote working opportunities. Candidates might respond by discussing the tools they have used in their previous role to enhance communication and productivity, such as: 

  • Virtual collaboration platforms 

  • Conferencing software

  • Instant messaging 

  • Regular meetings with supervisors 

8. Do you prefer remote work or working in an office?

A survey conducted in 2022 examining the leading reasons for seeking new employment in the US found that more than 20% of respondents moved to a new job to pursue flexible working. This is a growing trend in many industries and something that candidates will likely be interested in.

Asking questions about remote working can give you a clearer understanding of whether the candidate is interested in more flexible ways of working. Their answer may also reveal if they have positive attributes like self-motivation and communication abilities.

For example, if they state that they enjoy working from home, it could be a sign that they are an independent worker and are productive in environments outside the office. On the other hand, if they say they prefer working in an office environment, they may have a positive social influence on your team dynamic.

9. What would your previous boss say about you?

Asking this question could provide you with insight into the candidate’s particular traits and work ethic to help you decide whether they are the right choice for an office administrator role. Candidates might explain that their boss would mention:

  • Their most beneficial skills

  • How they’ve improved business processes

  • How they work independently

  • Their impact on team dynamics

As the hiring manager, you can verify the candidate’s answer by using a reference from their previous employer to assess whether the candidate has omitted anything from their response.

10. Are you used to working with colleagues in other departments?

Working as an office administrator requires teamwork, including interdepartmental communication when completing tasks like scheduling cross-departmental meetings or processing data. 

Look for answers mentioning how the applicants worked with different departments and the communication tools they used. The best candidates will explain how they honed both their verbal and written communication skills.

Don’t forget to use a data-driven Communication skills test to assess your candidate’s communication abilities.

11. Can you tell me about any experience you have working with clients?

The duties of office administrator roles differ from business to business – some admins might need to contact clients, whereas others may not. Therefore, if the role you’re looking to fill does include some client-facing work, this can be a great question to ask applicants.

Candidates should tell you how they communicate with clients professionally and represent the company in a way that leaves a lasting positive impression. For example, they could discuss the following:

  • Their email communication style

  • Other written communication

  • Their telephone manner

Communication topics to ask an office administrator graphic

The best candidates might also be able to give you examples of their exemplary etiquette when communicating with clients and explain how this impacted their relationship with the company.

12. Can you provide an example of a time when you went above and beyond for your employer?

This question is crucial because it can reveal situations in which candidates were the most productive, help you understand their work processes, and show you whether their work ethic suits the requirements of the role. 

Candidates might discuss parts of their old job that required their organizational and time management skills, such as an office move or the company undergoing major organizational change. 

Applicants who explain how they’re willing to exceed expectations to complete a project may be more committed to your company’s success and be the best choice for the role. 

13. Have you ever had a conflict with a more senior staff member? 

Most office administrators work under more senior staff members and may sometimes disagree with what they are instructed to do. This is natural in any team environment, so you should not expect them to say no to this question.

Candidates should explain how they resolved such conflicts professionally and whether this led to better communication between them and their senior manager afterward.

In their responses, applicants may list the skills they used to resolve this issue, such as:

  • Communication

  • Attention to detail

  • Patience

  • Empathy

Ideally, conflict will be minimal, but it’s vital to hire someone who can handle it well if disagreements arise.

14. How do you feel about managing other team members?

Many office administrators have to supervise junior admin staff in specific situations, such as during training or onboarding. This requires specific skills, like communication and empathy.

Your candidates’ answers should either include examples of how they have managed a team in the past or, if they haven’t, explain why they feel ready to step into a role that does require team management. 

For example, some candidates may use one-on-one meetings to set goals, encourage and support their mentees, and provide feedback, which are all critical methods for improving productivity at work.

15. How do you delegate work?

If candidates are required to manage a team in the role, they will likely need to delegate work regularly. Finding out how they would go about doing this is important for deciding whether they can effectively organize workloads.

After being asked this question, candidates should tell you how they delegate work evenly and fairly while monitoring work until its completion. They could mention delegation methods such as:

  • Direct delegation

  • Task-based delegation

  • Sharing responsibility

Candidates may also mention how they listen to team members when they are struggling with their workload and redistribute work accordingly.

16. How do you manage and meet deadlines?

Office administrators often need to meet tight deadlines set by office managers. Tasks like employee data processing or report writing have set deadlines, meaning admins require time and task management skills. 

For example, if your candidate needs to prepare to send out weekly meeting notes by each Friday, you need to know that they can complete this task on time.

In their answer, the candidate should reference methods like: 

These attributes are essential when managing and meeting deadlines since they play a vital role in ensuring that work is completed by the deadline without being rushed unnecessarily. 

17. Can you give examples of measures you took in previous office support jobs to reduce costs or improve efficiency?

A great office administrator is able to identify areas of improvement in an office’s operations and implement them to benefit everyone.

This could include cutting down on paper use to save the business money or, for larger offices, implementing a room-booking system to avoid schedule clashes.

The best answers will describe specific metrics candidates use to save costs. For example, they might explain how they conducted research into a supplier that offered office supplies at a discounted rate compared with their standard supplier, reducing office outgoings.

18. Can you describe a time when you exceeded expectations?

Asking an interviewee this question gives them an opportunity to emphasize some of the previous work they are proud of. They may discuss how they exceeded their typical responsibilities by managing major office changes or give a more general answer about how they work efficiently and to the best of their ability every day.

You can tell if your talent is passionate about their career if they are eager to talk about how they go above and beyond.

19. What have you done to develop your administration skills?

The skills that are advantageous for someone in an administrative role are constantly changing as these roles become more technology based.

For example, customer service is a growing skill among administrative analysts, with 7.9% including it in their resumes. The changes in the technology and systems that many companies use have also required those in admin positions to adapt their skills accordingly.

The best answers to this question will offer clear examples of how the individual pursued additional training because of a particular change in their role. 

20. What traits or qualities are necessary for success in administrative jobs?

Although there is variation between roles, especially between different businesses and industries, some traits and qualities will benefit anyone in an administrative position. 

Candidates should mention not only the traits and qualities they feel are necessary but also which ones they have. Traits and qualities to look out for include:

  • Communication skills: These skills help applicants collaborate with clients, senior management, and team members to meet company targets.

  • Email skills: These skills are crucial for enhancing the company-client relationship because they help team members explain any new developments in the business.

  • Organizational skills: These soft skills streamline business processes, such as keeping electronic documents organized, which can make it easier to access files.

  • Time management: This soft skill helps employees ensure the organization achieves deadlines and satisfies the client’s expectations.

  • Leadership and people management: This skill set is critical for admin staff who mentor new employees.

Make sure your applicants can give examples of when they used these skills and how they think they will use them in the role.

When should you use office administrator interview questions?

These 20 questions can help you create a successful interview process and aid you in getting to know each of your interviewees better as you assess their skills, relevant experience, and much more.

Asking any of these questions can help you choose the right office administrator for your company. But if you need a more detailed view of how each interviewee will perform in the role, skills testing can be a great asset.

Use these interview questions and our range of assessments to find the right office administrator for your open position.

Find the right office administrator for your business with support from TestGorilla

Simplify your hiring process and find the best candidate for an office administration role such as an admin assistant or an office manager with our list of interview questions. You can quickly assess the candidates’ skills and select the one who’s likely to go above and beyond for your organization.

With the help of TestGorilla’s skills tests, you can incorporate a bias-free, data-driven assessment method into your recruitment strategy, streamlining the hiring process. 

Simply assess candidates’ test results, and interview those who are proficient in the skills you value the most. Why not request a free demo to learn about our data-driven techniques and how you can improve your recruitment strategies?

If you’re ready to try out our platform right away, you can create a free TestGorilla account to get started today.


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