Interview questions for Administrative Associate

We analyzed 148 interview reviews for Administrative Associate from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Administrative Associate:

What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
Tell me about yourself
What are your long-term goals?
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Why did you leave your last job?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What's your ideal workplace?
What would you do if you were given a difficult task to complete in an unrealistic time frame?
What was the biggest mistake you made in your most recent job? How did you handle it?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Administrative Associate role ask soft skills interview questions 2.0x more frequently than for other roles.

Administrative Associate interview question statistics

1. What is your greatest weakness?top question

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

2. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in a company. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities, especially if you are applying for a job that involves teamwork, or a lot of interactions with clients.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember a few such situations and how you diffused them and turned things around. What are your approaches to resolving conflicting situations at work?

  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?
  3. About The Fit

    Using what you found about the company, choose one of your examples that fits best with the company standards and share your story.

    If it's a customer, how did you turn things around and made a customer happy?
    If it's a coworker, how did you diffuse a tense or difficult situation?

Pro Tip

Use the triple A of diffusing a difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you "Ask" for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

3. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

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I searched interview prep via Google and found Mr. Simon. I sent an e-mail requesting help. Natalie was prompt in response. The session was one of the best things to have happened during my job search and interview preparation.
Natalie helped me feel calm and confident. She helped me break down the job description and relate it to my experience. After working with Natalie, I received 2 job offers in the same day.

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I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. What are your long-term goals?

How to answer

Even in this age of the so-called Gig Economy, employers are always looking for people who can become their strong and loyal “soldiers,” a part of their “army” to help them conquer their market share against their competitors.

So, even if at this moment this job may be a temporary contract, you never know what opportunities may present themselves to you in this company.

Trust me, your hiring manager doesn’t know either!

So, be open to opportunities and use this question to emphasize how your personal goals correspond with those of the company.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with honestly assessing yourself. (At this moment, you are not sharing these thoughts with anyone, so be as open as you can).

    Imagine that you have all the resources in the world and that all roads are open for you.

    • How would you use them?
    • Which road(s) would you choose?
    • What do you see on the horizon in that direction?

    Be audacious and don’t limit yourself. There is no longer a perspective than “long-term,” so be as futuristic as you possibly can.

    List a few “road” options that you would be enthusiastic about going down.

    For example, this list may be as broad as the following:

    • writer
    • choir director
    • software engineer and architect
    • CEO of a unicorn startup company,
    • entrepreneur.

    As William Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

  2. About The Company

    Now, look at the company.

    • What is the industry they operate in?
    • What is the position you are applying for, and what are potential career growth possibilities within the department, company, and industry?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your “road” options correspond best with the opportunities presented by this company?

    Highlight this option and focus on it. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, going down this road.

    What would be the major milestones for you, in order to move towards your goal?

    Describe the chosen option by focusing on the first 1-2 milestones, and by presenting it in light of company goals and current initiatives.

    For example, if you are applying for a project manager position in a corporation engaged in the education industry, and your “road” option is “CEO,” your next career step may be a program manager, or an innovations and research manager.

    Explain why you are enthusiastic about reaching these goals, and what makes you think you have the necessary traits and skills to reach them.

    How can the company benefit from these traits and skills of yours already today, in the current role you are applying for?

Pro Tip

Framing your answer in the same terms used by the company will help ensure the interviewer can easily understand your language and help both of you to be “on the same page.”

The easier you make it for the interviewer, the better are your chances they will “vote” for you over other candidates.

5. Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

Nowadays, professional life is stressful everywhere and always. However, there are levels of stress that are so common that we consider them normal, and there are times when they really skyrocket.

Your future employer wants to know how you will behave in such times, whether you will be a helping hand or a burden.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a time when you had to hit a tight timeline and to work long hours, hard and overtime; or when you found yourself in the middle of a conflict with someone, or with a group of people.

    If you had more than one such occasion, choose one that ended positively and successfully, and ideally, that can demonstrate some of your key skills - your Key Selling Points.

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

    • What helped you persevere?
    • Was there an element that you enjoyed?

    For example, in one of our projects, my team and I had to hit a really tough timeline for a customer, which seemed almost impossible in the beginning.

    However, we knew that we owned the results and that a major decision by the customer depended on the outcome. This sense of ownership, meaning, and impact gave us energy and excitement.

    Those were the challenges that we loved and could deal with for a sustained period of time. Also, the pleasure of working with a highly qualified top manager on the customer’s side added to the enjoyment.

    Now, after a few years, we remember those times as some of the most exciting for our team.

  2. About The Company

    • What do you know about the company, where you may encounter a stressful situation?
    • Are they working on a major project which is approaching a due date?
    • Are they going through a difficult time when cost-saving is a top priority, company culture is full of negativity and mistrust, they have gone through massive layoffs, customers are neglected, and everyone wears a long face?

    These are always stressful times, and you should try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    Or, are they just a dynamic, highly agile company run by smart and creative folks, which may work excellently for some people and be confusing and mind-blowing for others?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

    • Does this company feel like it?
    • Do you feel excited and enthusiastic about the kinds of stress you may encounter here?

    If you feel compatible with this company culture and enthusiastic about the challenges you expect here, this is a good chance to mention it and to show your excitement.

    Explain your approach or rationale and give your example from the past.

Pro Tip

If you cannot remember any stressful situation with a positive outcome, you can use one with a negative outcome accompanied by your lessons learned.

However, this option should not be your first choice, as the failure to give an example of a successful outcome may portray you as an emotionally immature person.

6. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

8. What's your ideal workplace?

How to answer

This question has everything to do with the topic of culture: the interviewer is trying to understand whether you, as a candidate, are a good cultural fit for the company.

On the other hand, you want to know how closely this potential workplace corresponds with your expectations.

You don’t want to find yourself in an extremely challenging and, possibly, hostile environment, right?

  1. About Yourself

    To help you better picture what your ideal workplace should look like, ask yourself the following questions:

    • What do I need to be happy at my workplace?
    • What would be the physical environment I would most enjoy working in?
    • What am I passionate about? What motivates me?
    • What impact does my work have on the world?
    • Does my work support me enough (including income, vacation, health plan)?
    • Can I build strong, friendly, and quality relationships with my colleagues?
    • What opportunities does my work give me personally and professionally?

    Name a few key points that describe the working environment which are most important to you. You can come up with your own, or choose the top 3-4 from the list below:

    • working in a team or independently
    • stability
    • caring
    • learning new things
    • agility
    • creative atmosphere or competitive atmosphere
    • friendly
    • flat structure
    • hierarchical structure
    • modern
    • conservative
    • clear directions
    • initiative is encouraged.

    Similarly, list the qualities in the workplace that you find highly frustrating.

    These may be either things you find totally unacceptable (e.g. abuse of power by management, harassment etc.) and would walk away from, or things that you consider destructive but you can turn them around (e.g. “I think demotivated employees are bad for the workplace, but as a manager, one of my key skills is to promote engagement and encourage employees”).

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company.

    Study available information about the company’s culture and its mission.

    • How does the company value its employees and how do the employees value one another?
    • What relations do they have with their customers and suppliers?
    • There may be certain pain points in the company; do you think you can tolerate them, or maybe even help turn them around?
  3. About The Fit

    If 3-4 (or even more) key points from your working environment list correspond with the company’s culture, there is most likely a good cultural fit.

    If you are able to, explain to the interviewer how your skills can help alleviate some cultural pain points that may exist in the company. Give an example.

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like

Do you think such responsibilities will be part of this position?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation, and will allow you to relax some tension.

9. What would you do if you were given a difficult task to complete in an unrealistic time frame?

How to answer

Unrealistic deadlines are an inevitable part of our life at work.

Deadlines themselves are already challenging and highly stressful in our dynamic environment, but if they are really tight or even unrealistic, you have to do your best to find strong solutions to handle them.

That’s why your answer to this question will help the interviewer to learn if you are able to stay cool under pressure, think on your feet, prioritize your tasks, and also plan, assess, detail and specify.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you ever had such a situation at your work?
    • What were your actions?
    • Were you honest and brave enough to say that it is impossible just after getting the assignment?
    • Or did you wait until the last minute?
    • Did you ask your boss for additional help, information, or an extended time frame, or for rescheduling your current tasks?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

    Try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    • What are the company’s plans, for example, will there be a degree of pressure like hitting targets, meeting deadlines or managing multiple tasks at once?
    • How might this impact you and how you deal with pressure?
  3. About The Fit

    Interviewers look for a practical approach and honesty, rather than your hard work stories.

    Show yourself as a perfect fit for the position who is a passionate, ambitious person and mention that you find challenges highly motivating, even if they are stressful.

    • What are your approaches to meeting such a stressful situation?
    • Do they correspond with the company’s methods?

Pro Tip

Of course, there are times when unrealistic deadlines and expectations cannot be met. But what is more important is that when you are inspired, enthusiastic, when you believe in the challenge of meeting goals, you become stronger, you learn your lessons and you have more opportunities to become successful.

10. What was the biggest mistake you made in your most recent job? How did you handle it?

How to answer

It’s important to know how to answer a job interview question about mistakes. They ask questions like this to learn how you handle challenges. They also want to determine your weaknesses, and decide if you have what it takes to do the job well.

It’s a chance for the interviewer to see that you can learn from your mistakes and use the experience to get better.

  1. About Yourself

    Do your best to tell a positive story about how the mistake was made, how you dealt with it and what learned from it.

    We all make mistakes from time-to-time.

    Answering some of the following questions will help you understand your own view of dealing with mistakes and their consequences. For instance:

    • How do you use a mistake to improve your abilities?
    • Are you self-aware enough to acknowledge failure and weakness?
    • Do you take smart risks?
    • How do you view success, failure, and risk in general?
    • Do you take responsibility for past mistakes instead of putting the blame on others?
    • If the situation repeats, what would you do differently? What would you do again?
  2. About The Company

    Before the interview, look over the job listing, research the company. Try to think of a mistake you have made in the past that is not too closely related to the requirements of the job you are interviewing for.

    What kind of challenges might you face if you get the job here?

  3. About The Fit

    It’s your opportunity to emphasize the skills or qualities you gained from your past negative experience that are important for the job you’re interviewing for now.

    Put a positive spin on your response by defining the “mistake” as a “learning experience” that led to your increased competency in the workplace.

    Talk about a specific example of a time you made a mistake. Briefly explain what the mistake was; quickly switch over to what you learned, or how you improved, after making that mistake.

    You might also explain the steps you took to make sure that mistake never happened again. Say that something you may have struggled with in the past has actually now became one of your strengths.

    Pick a story that ends with a compelling example of a lesson learned. Tell your story using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Make absolutely sure that the interviewer understands that you learned from the experience.

Never blame others for what you did (however, if you were part of a team failure, you could relate this experience, just be sure to own up to your part in it).

Always be accountable for what you could have done differently in the failure.

Demonstrate that you’ve had the maturity to benefit from previous “lessons learned” and you can move on with increased wisdom and competency.

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This page has been updated on June 1, 2022.

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