36 office manager interview questions to hire top talent

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If your company has a physical office and you’re looking to grow your operations, an office manager might be a crucial addition to your team. 

Office managers are responsible for creating and maintaining a productive and welcoming work environment where employees can thrive. They take care of all the administrative and operational tasks that go into running an office, meaning that they need a wide set of skills to be successful. 

To find the right person for the role, you need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses accurately and objectively – and for this, having the right office manager interview questions is invaluable. 

Before you get to interviewing candidates, however, we recommend using a pre-employment skills assessment. This approach enables you to see who truly has the right skills for the role without wasting time on interviewing unqualified applicants – and to drastically reduce the risk of hiring mistakes.

With TestGorilla, you can easily evaluate and compare applicants’ communication, problem-solving, and time management skills – among many others. 

Once you shortlist your most skilled applicants, you can invite them to an interview to gain a deeper understanding of their abilities and experience. 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best office manager interview questions you can ask, along with sample answers to help you evaluate their responses. And if you need ideas for more questions, simply scroll to the bottom of the article.

Top 22 office manager interview questions and answers to help you hire top talent

In this section, you’ll find our selection of 22 office manager questions to ask your applicants, along with sample answers that’ll help you assess their abilities.

1. How do you prioritize tasks when many people seem to need your help at the same time?

Look for candidates who know how to assess tasks’ urgency and impact. For this, they should ask coworkers a few quick questions to determine a task’s priority. If something's critical and affects many people, it goes to the top of their list. 

They should also make sure to communicate openly with everyone involved, so that each person knows what's happening and why.

You can use our Communication and Time Management tests to determine whether candidates are able to quickly determine which tasks they need to focus on first.

2. What strategies do you use to maintain a well-organized office?

Organization is key for the work of an office manager, so look for candidates who regularly set aside time to declutter the office space and sort through paperwork. 

They may also use different project management, note-taking, and inventory management apps to make sure they’re staying on top of their tasks and that the company is well-stocked in terms of supplies.

3. How do you manage office budgets and expenses? 

Budget management is a core skill for office managers. 

Look for candidates who are able to demonstrate meticulous budget tracking and planning skills and know how to plan ahead for big expenses. They might also mention that they’re experienced in negotiating prices with suppliers to get the best deals – or also that they make sure to have a buffer for unexpected, last minute expenses.

4. What experience do you have with coordinating meetings?

Candidates who have experience with organizing all sorts of meetings, from one-on-one meetings between team leads and team members to large, company-wide events, are the ones to look out for.

The best ones will know how to handle everything, from scheduling to ensuring the tech works smoothly and from taking notes to sending recaps to everyone involved. 

5. You notice that the office's meeting rooms are overbooked and all meetings seem urgent. What do you do?

Skilled candidates would be able to quickly assess which meetings could be moved online, rescheduled, or combined. Then, they’d communicate with everyone involved, offering alternatives and helping rearrange schedules as needed.

6. How do you create and maintain a positive workplace culture?

Creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture starts with open communication and regular check-ins with the team. 

Candidates might mention that they like to celebrate big and small wins and milestones to boost morale and improve team cohesion. 

They might also encourage teamwork through collaborative projects and occasional team-building activities. Most importantly, however, employee well-being and growth should be top priorities for them.

7. What experience do you have with office and admin software?

Look for applicants who mention Microsoft Office Suite and Google Workspace, and especially Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Docs. For schedule management, they might use a combination of Calendly and Google Calendar. 

The best applicants might have experience with project management apps, such as Asana and Trello to track their tasks and share their progress with others.

Even if a candidate has limited experience with the specific software tools you’re using, if they demonstrate a strong willingness to learn, that’s a major plus.

8. What's your approach to inventory and supply management?

A proactive approach works best for inventory management, so look for candidates who know how to leverage software tools like QuickBooks to track inventory levels and predict future needs. 

The most skilled ones will also be aware of the importance of maintaining a close relationship with suppliers to ensure your organization gets the best prices and receives deliveries on time. They might also say that they keep an eye out for bulk purchase deals to save on costs without compromising quality, or also talk about conducting audits to avoid overstocking or understocking.

9. What's your experience in planning and organizing company events?

Here, candidates might mention different types of corporate events, such as: 

  • Company retreats and team building events

  • After-work parties 

  • Workshops 

  • Conferences

  • Trade shows and exhibitions

The best applicants will explain how they make each event unique and memorable, whether it’s finding the perfect venue, arranging catering, or coordinating guest speakers.

10. Have you ever organized a multi-day team building event? How did it go?

Office managers who have worked at large companies previously will usually have experience with multi-day team-building events. Look for candidates who are able to give you a specific example and talk about the challenges they encountered, how they tackled them, and what the outcome was for the team.

11. How do you manage relationships with external vendors and service providers?

The best candidates for this role will always strive to keep good relationships with vendors and might even use CRM software tools like HubSpot to keep track of interactions, contracts, and product or service quality. 

Building rapport with contractors is key, because it helps office managers negotiate better deals and ensures they get quick responses in urgent situations. Skilled candidates might also mention that they always make sure to provide feedback whenever they’re happy with a vendor’s services and discuss any issues straight away. 

12. What's your experience with project management?

Ideally, look for applicants who have diverse project management experience, and who have tackled a wide range of projects. Examples might include managing office renovations, getting new equipment installed, updating office workflows, and more. Take note of past projects that had required strong cross-functional leadership skills

Candidates might explain that their approach is to break down each project into manageable tasks, set clear milestones, and maintain open communication with all team members. They might also talk about setting up regular check-ins with others and say that they enable them to address issues on the spot – and, most importantly, before they impact the project’s progress. 

13. How do you ensure the office environment is safe and compliant with health regulations?

Ensuring a safe and healthy office environment should be a top priority of any office manager worth their salt. Candidates should stay updated with the latest health regulations and make sure they know exactly what to do to be compliant. 

They might mention performing regular safety audits, providing health and safety training for the team, and maintaining a clean and tidy workspace where everyone has the right equipment. 

14. Do you have experience with travel management? 

Not all candidates will have experience with travel management and it’s not a must for all companies, but if your employees often need to do business trips, look for a person who knows how to organize those.

Applicants might mention that they have experience in managing travel arrangements for individual team members or even entire teams. They might talk about specific tasks they were responsible for, such as booking flights, hotels, and transportation, and creating detailed itineraries for domestic and international trips. 

They might be familiar with different travel booking platforms such as TravelPerk and Navan; more importantly, they should know how to find cost-effective options without compromising travelers’ comfort. 

They should also ensure that all travel plans are in line with the company’s policies and take care of visa requirements well in advance.

15. Can you tell us about a specific business trip you've organized in the past? What was the most challenging aspect of it?

Answers to this question will obviously be based on every candidate’s specific experience, but what you should look for is an openness and willingness to discuss difficulties and how they overcame them. 

For example, an applicant might talk about organizing a multi-day trip for a large team and struggling to coordinate each team member’s schedule and finding flights and accommodations that suited everyone. They might also mention having to navigate budget constraints or time limitations and explain how they dealt with those. 

16. Can you give an example of a successful office initiative you owned and led?

Here, look for candidates who are able to talk about a specific initiative in detail and discuss its outcomes. 

For example, a candidate might tell you about an initiative they led to improve the internal communication within their previous company and explain how they set up systems to encourage team members to express their concerns and ideas. They might explain how it improved employee engagement and helped reduce turnover

17. How do you manage incoming emails and phone calls?

The best candidates might tell you that they set specific times during the day to check emails, so they don’t disrupt their workflow. They might give you further details on the methods they’re using to identify urgent or high-priority emails and tackle those first.

As for calls, look for office managers who know how to handle calls quickly and efficiently. They might explain that they have a note-taking system that enables them to get all the essential information from the caller, or also tell you about their ability to filter unsolicited calls and identify urgent requests.

18. Do you have experience with relocating or setting up a new office?

Not all candidates will have experience with this, but the ones who do will have extra skills that more junior applicants might not.

Ask candidates for specific information on what their tasks were exactly. For example, did they manage the logistics? Did they have to find new vendors and ensure timely delivery of supplies? Did they have to work with an architect or an interior designer on the new office layout?

Usually, the biggest challenge in relocating an office (or opening a new one) is ensuring that everything is ready and functional by the move-in date. Ask follow-up questions to see whether candidates managed to achieve this.

19. How would you support a team that works remotely some of the time?

Supporting a team that works remotely some of the time is all about ensuring everyone feels connected to others and has all the necessary tools and technology to do their best work. 

For this, skilled office managers rely on top remote work best practices, such as regular video check-ins and virtual team meetings, to maintain team cohesion. 

20. A coworker is often late and you're the only one to notice. What do you do?

Each candidate might take a different approach here, depending on their communication style and the way they manage relationships with coworkers. Ideally, you should look for a person who’s able to approach the situation with empathy before jumping to conclusion.

They might discuss different scenarios: Maybe the person who’s late is dealing with a personal issue or their commute might have changed. Talented office managers would first look to discuss the matter in private and offer support if needed; if the team’s productivity is impacted, they might suggest the person speaks with their manager or HR for assistance. 

21. What's your approach to managing employee wellness programs?

For many businesses, employee wellness is an important retention strategy. Experienced office managers would take a holistic approach, which means not just focusing on physical health but also supporting team members’ mental well-being. 

To support the team, they might offer a range of activities and resources, such as: 

  • Yoga sessions or mindfulness workshops

  • Gym membership funding

  • Financial advice 

  • Upskilling initiatives

  • Childcare support for working parents

22. What's the most challenging aspect of the role of an office manager?

Here, candidates might explain that office managers often need to be a jack-of-all-trades, managing everything from administrative tasks to employee relations, and finding the right balance between team members’ requests and the company’s resources. 

14 extra office manager interview questions you can ask

If you’re looking for more ideas, here are some extra interview questions you can ask during the office manager hiring process: 

  • How do you evaluate the success of a decision you've made?

  • How do you ensure everyone has the resources they need to do their best work?

  • How do you handle conflicts within the team?

  • How do you ensure effective communication in a busy office? 

  • Tell us how you manage your day-to-day workload and to-do list.

  • How do you keep track of multiple projects at the same time?

  • What do you do to welcome new team members and make sure they have a smooth onboarding experience? 

  • What's your idea of the perfect office? 

  • Two managers give you conflicting instructions for a task. What do you do? 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to learn a new software tool to achieve a specific goal. 

  • You notice a coworker makes a mistake that might cost the organization money. What do you do?

  • How do you ensure that tasks you delegate are completed on time?

  • If you notice that communication between two departments is poor, what would be your strategy to improve it?

  • A delivery from one of your most reliable suppliers is late. What do you do?

For more ideas, check out our selection of behavioral and situational interview questions. You can use those for many different roles, including that of an office manager.  

Use the right interview questions and skills tests to hire a skilled office manager

Office managers ensure the smooth running of daily operations, so their role is crucial for the functioning of the entire office. The cost of a bad hire for such an important role could be very high, so it’s important to make the right choice from the first try.

To achieve this, use a combination of skills tests and structured interviews. Above, you have our selection of the best office manager interview questions to ask, along with sample answers. 

Next, you can read more about how to hire an office manager or how to streamline your hiring process with pre-employment skills testing

Sign up for our free plan or a live demo with one of our experts to learn how to hire a talented office manager, the easy way.

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