Interview questions for Business Office Associate

We analyzed 171 interview reviews for Business Office 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 Business Office Associate:

Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Tell me about a time when you had to pivot away from a current task to address an urgent situation
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
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?
What experience do you have in this field?
Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a coworker understand a task. How did you assist him or her? What was the result?
Why did you leave your last job?
Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Business Office Associate role ask soft skills interview questions 3.3x more frequently than for other roles:

Business Office Associate interview question statistics

1. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customertop question

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the time you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for him?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Read online reviews and any other available information.

    • What are their standards for treating customers?
    • What complaints have you seen that can give you a hint of some of the challenges associated with customer service?
  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications. Now think of how these requirements are met by how you went above and beyond for a customer.

    Frame your story in terms of your STAR method:

    S - What was the Situation?
    T - What was your Task?
    A - What Action did you take?
    R - Talk about the Results.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always an excellent way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

2. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company.

    • How did you feel?
    • How did you want to be treated?
    • How would the situation ideally be resolved?
    • If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer?
    • What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation?

    Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant.

    Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea).

    Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers.

    Research the company you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform).

    Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the 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.

Add the extra “A” - Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Take a quiz

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

Customers are often frustrated by what they perceive as poor service especially when they are on the phone. Which one of the following answers do you consider to be good customer service?

APlacing the customer on hold for too long

BPaying close attention to the customer’s complaint in an attempt to solve their problem

CAsking the customer to repeat their complaint many times

DFailing to empathize with their problem

EDirecting the customer to your website instead of resolving the issue yourself

3. Tell me about a time when you had to pivot away from a current task to address an urgent situation

How to answer

Time management is crucial to perform well at any job.

The ability to manage your time impacts your productivity and reflects how well you can manage your resources.

Though you often think you know the priority of your tasks, a new, unexpected task may appear and take first place.

Asking this question, the interviewer would like to know how effectively you manage your time, if you leave additional time for emergencies that always seem to occur at work and how you handle sudden shifts in priorities.

The answer highlights your adaptability, creativity and problem-solving skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Ask yourself the following to answer this question effectively:

    • How organized are you?
    • Do you understand the difference between the urgent and the important?
    • How do you manage stress and pressure at work?
    • Do you become uber-focused on the task at hand, or are you willing to drop what you are doing, and switch priorities?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and job description. Find out what kind of challenges they are facing.

    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
    • Will there be a degree of pressure such as meeting deadlines, changing plans, or managing multiple tasks at once?
  3. About The Fit

    This is your chance to show the interviewer that you can prioritize your tasks without sacrificing any other responsibilities that you needed to complete.

    Using the STAR method, relate how professionally you handled a situation when unexpected changes occurred at your previous job. This will help to show your initiative and your ability to cope with pressure and will indicate that you’re mindful of high-level company priorities.

    Tell the interviewer you always make your schedule adjustable and when an urgent situation occurs, you streamline your to-do list to match your new priorities.

    How do you do it? You might say something like:

    1. You ease out of your current task and focus all your attention on the new task.
    2. You list it in your planner to be able to checkmark it when done.
    3. You make a time estimate for when you might be finished, and start working.

    If you understand that you can’t manage this alone, you request that a coworker who is best experienced in this field be assigned to help. Once you're done with this new, important task, you resume work on your previous priorities.

Pro Tip

Answer to this question is an excellent opportunity for you to show your Key Selling Points and prove that you are the best candidate for this role in their company.

4. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

5. 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.

6. What experience do you have in this field?

How to answer

This question may help you convince the interviewer how smoothly you would fit into the position to which you are applying. It's your chance to WOW them! Be sure to focus on the experience that is relevant to the company and position.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with defining your Key Selling Points you want to emphasize for this position.

    • What job experiences brought you to those points?
    • What were the job titles and the most relevant responsibilities?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research of the company and the requirements for the position.

    • What is the company looking for in terms of experiences and qualifications?
    • What problems are they trying to solve with this position?

    Highlight 3-5 key required experiences or skills from the job description.

  3. About The Fit

    Which of your Key Selling Points match with the required experiences or skills? Can you think of an example story showcasing this match?

    Nowadays, every hiring manager wants results, so think in terms of specific achievements and try to structure your example accordingly.

Pro Tip

When telling your story, remember to talk about your STARs!
S - What was the Situation?
T - What was your Task?
A - What Action did you take?
R - Talk about the Results.

7. Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a coworker understand a task. How did you assist him or her? What was the result?

How to answer

Of course, it’s necessary to be goal-oriented and determined in every job but it is also very important to support your coworkers in their professional efforts to succeed.

Why do interviewers ask this question? They want to understand if you are a team player and willing to help your coworkers.

Being able to work as part of a team is a useful skill, but at the same time, an employer wants to know that you will still be able to get all your tasks done.

Your answer to this question will help the interviewer to gauge your flexibility, tactful mediation skills and personal initiative in problem-solving.

  1. About Yourself

    Answering this question may give the employers a much better sense of who you are as an employee and as a person.

    • Do you like helping people?
    • Are you easy to get along with?
    • How did you deal with unexpected obstacles in your last work?
    • Have you ever had the experience of working with someone who needed assistance?
    • What was the result?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company carefully.

    Use the company’s website, social media posts and recent press releases to better understand the company’s goals and if your background makes you a great fit. How do the employees value one another?

    Understanding key information about the company you’re interviewing with can help you go into your interview with confidence.

  3. About The Fit

    Provide an example of a time you helped a coworker in these circumstances, describing the situation in detail using the STAR method.

    The key is to show that the mentoring of a coworker was a higher priority than the task you had at hand at that time (emphasizing that you focus on the highest priority tasks first).

    Make it clear that your responsibilities did not suffer from offering your coworker a helping hand.

    Explain how you realized the person needed help both because it was the right thing to do and because it would benefit your company by strengthening that person.

    Aiding in this way presents you as a solid employee who knows when and how to help others as well as his/her company. It shows that you not only helped them to complete a task, but also taught how to be able to do it alone in the future.

    Your actions demonstrate that you are able to recognize areas that need improvement and attention to detail, which are excellent traits for an employee to have.

Pro Tip

Answering this question is a great opportunity to emphasize many of your Key Selling Points and make the interviewer want to have you as their valuable new employee.

8. 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!

9. Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the times you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for the customer? How did you exceed expectations?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Have you found any reviews online that can help you identify what the company's greatest challenge is? What are their standards for treating customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's standards and ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications.

    If you can remember more than one example, choose the one that fits best with the company industry and standards. Make sure you describe the positive outcome both for the customer and the company.

    Use the STAR method to craft your story.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always the best way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

10. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  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?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  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 added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

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:

AIf the customer is rude and obnoxious, answer in kind and show him that he cannot push you around.

BListen carefully to what the customer is saying to really understand their concerns then repeat back to them what you heard to be sure you have it right, before attempting to help them with the problem.

CTell the customer that he should have known that the sale is final and there is nothing he can do to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

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This page has been updated on November 2, 2020.

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