Interview questions for Staff Assistant

We analyzed 217 interview reviews for Staff Assistant 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 Staff Assistant:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about yourself
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Do you have any questions for me?
Do you have any hobbies/special interests?
What one skill do you possess that you think will be the most important to a hiring manager?
What experience do you have in this field?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Staff Assistant role ask soft skills interview questions 94% more frequently than for other roles.

Staff Assistant interview question statistics

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?top question

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.

2. What is your greatest weakness?

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

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.

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Amanda, QA Manager:

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. 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.

5. How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?

How to answer

Time management is crucial to perform well at any job. That’s why you may be asked this question during the interview.

Your response to this question will show your interviewer how effectively you determine which tasks need more immediate attention than others.

It will allow them to see if you can prioritize tasks without sacrificing any other responsibilities that you needed to complete.

  1. About Yourself

    The idea of answering this question is to set realistic expectations for yourself and your potential employer. Ask yourself the following:

    • How organized are you?
    • Are you able to cope with different tasks, deadlines without getting yourself in a muddle?
    • Do you understand the difference between the urgent and the important?
    • Can you reach a balance between company priorities, efficiency, your work-life balance and personal needs?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company, its culture and the job description.

    • What do you expect to be doing in this job?
    • How would your performance be measured?
    • What will your responsibilities be?
    • Will you decide by yourself what tasks should be done first?
    • Are there any tasks in the job description that emphasize priority?
  3. About The Fit

    Everyone has a different method of managing their workload so it’s your chance to shine and show your excellent time-management skills explaining your preferred technique to your interviewer.

    The best way to prioritize your tasks is to list out what you need to work on across all of your projects.

    Explain that the first thing you usually do is break down bigger tasks into subtasks to feel less overwhelmed. When all of your tasks are in one place, you are able to have an overall view of what needs to get done, develop a sense of how much work you’re dealing with, and what tasks need immediate attention.

    Also mention how professionally you handle a situation when unexpected changes occur. This helps to show you’re mindful of high-level company priorities.

    It’s best to give real-life examples to show the interviewer you’re not just talking about a generic strategy, but you’ve successfully practiced this in the workplace more than once.

Pro Tip

When you clearly prioritize your work, you can increase productivity, better manage your time, and feel confident that you’ll hit your deadlines—every time.

Choose one of the most effective and proven time management techniques that will help you to show the interviewer how you work.

  1. The Eat the Frog method says: “Do the most important projects first thing in the morning, and when you’re done, switch to those less pertinent.”
  2. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix method helps you divide your tasks into four quadrants. 1st -important and urgent, 2nd - important but not urgent,3rd - not important but urgent, and 4th - not important and not urgent.
  3. With the ABCDE method, you assign each task you have a letter value according to its level of importance, and then tackle them accordingly, where A - very important, E - eliminate whenever possible.
  4. With the help of the Chunking method, you can have a focused work activity, dividing big pieces of work into small ones and vice versa, depending on your goal at the moment.

6. 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.

7. Do you have any questions for me?

How to answer

This question is typically asked at the end of interviews and is a critically important part of the conversation.

In fact, interviewers expect you to ask questions — it signals that you’re invested in and serious about the job.

Your interview gives the hiring manager insight into your professional experience, qualifications and accomplishments, but it’s also a great time for you to learn more about the company and the job.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you thought seriously about what it would mean to be employed in this role at this company?
    • Do you actually want the job to which you’re applying?

    This is your opportunity to learn enough about the job and the company to help determine whether you want the position. You never want to appear that you just going through the motions solely because you think this is the sort of position you know you’re qualified for.

  2. About The Company

    Researching the company is an easy way to understand the company’s history, mission and values.

    Browse the company’s website; search the internet for recent news articles. Use the information you find to help shape your questions.

    Your initiative will be well-received because it proves you took the time to learn about the company and industry.

  3. About The Fit

    The answer to the question should never be NO, even if you’re confident the job is a good match for you.

    Focus on asking questions about topics that weren’t covered, or topics you would like to discuss in greater detail.

    Asking, for example, “What does the company expect to achieve in the next year?” directly shows your interest in what the company’s plans are and how your hard work will benefit of the company.

    By asking “In addition to what was already discussed, what other kinds of skills and qualities are you looking for in a candidate?” you open up the opportunity to discuss additional skills and qualities that might not have come up during the interview itself.

    Are there any qualifications for the position that you think I am missing?” shows that you are ready to accept possible challenges even before working for the company.

Pro Tip

Be yourself. Ask a question that’s all your own and helps you obtain information that matters to you.

Always have at least 3-5 questions prepared for the interviewer before the interview. Use these questions to spark more conversation and interest about you.

8. Do you have any hobbies/special interests?

How to answer

The question about hobbies or special interests may seem unimportant and unrelated only at first glance.

Why do interviewers ask this question? They want to learn more about the applicant as a person, not just as an employee. They need to get a sense of your ability to balance your work and personal life.

When considering a large number of applicants, how you answer the question about hobbies or special interests may even become a decisive factor in hiring.

The answer to this question may often tell the interviewer how personal qualities can affect employee productivity in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to think it over in advance.

  1. About Yourself

    • What are your interests and what can they say about you?
    • What brings you joy and gives you energy?

    Surely you have at least one item from a list of common activities such as traveling, volunteering, community service, charity work, sports, hiking or playing chess. Maybe you are good at creative arts like writing, music, painting or crafts. Cooking or gardening can also be mentioned.

    Think about the interests you enjoy the most and if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, all the better.

    Don’t just list them, talk in more depth about each and the transferrable skills you have gained. Among them may be planning and organization skills, creative thinking and problem solving, adaptability or patience.

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company. Read carefully the “About Us” page of their website and job description.

    Compare their company culture and values to the ones you embrace in your extracurricular hobbies and interests. Take note especially if they participate in charities.

    Even if yours and theirs don’t exactly match, it will still allow you to make clear connections between your interests and those of your interviewer.

    If you know exactly who you will be interviewed by - find his/her profile on social networks – it will be a more successful interview if you have some common interests.

  3. About The Fit

    Make your hobby or interest your advantage.

    For example, if applying for a position as a translator, mention that in your free time you like to translate new songs and send them to popular websites or, tell about your passion for reading novels or writing your own stories in those languages.

    If you are applying for a job in gaming, you might mention your passion for certain video games.

    Applying to be an IT project manager? Talk about how you started a book club and regularly feature books related to IT innovation and transformation.

    Be ready to discuss the activities that prepare you for training, tasks and other workplace successes.

Pro Tip

Whatever hobby or interest you choose to highlight during your job interview, remember to focus on the positive qualities you possess in order to be successful at it.

Avoid speaking about hobbies that are related to politics or other taboo topics. Stick to mentioning interests that are relatively uncontroversial and keep it professional.

9. What one skill do you possess that you think will be the most important to a hiring manager?

How to answer

Employers place a lot of emphasis on finding candidates with the right skills and competencies for their organizations.

Depending on the career sector and profession you choose to work in, there are very specific skills, abilities and knowledge needed to do the job well.

The interviewer asks this question to make sure you will be a good fit with your skills and experience and will be a great addition to their team.

  1. About Yourself

    If you’re not sure which skill would be best to share, consider your previous work experiences.

    • Where did you excel?
    • What would your peers say you’re especially proficient at?
    • Have you ever received recognition for meeting a particular objective or excelling in a specific area?If so, your skills likely assisted you in reaching this achievement.
    • What personal talents or attributes helped you meet that milestone?

    Ask former coworkers or managers to help you to determine your strengths that made you unique. Imagine yourself as a manager who needs an employee to fill the position you are currently applying for.

    What would you as the manager expect from a candidate for this job?

  2. About The Company

    Start by reviewing the job description and making note of any required skills or abilities that match your own.

    The job posting is a great guide for what employers want to see in candidates. In addition to job requirements, consider the depiction of the company and its culture in the job description.

    Be sure to research the company by reviewing its website for additional information to get to know what skill you should mention.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to highlight your best hard and soft skills (your Key Selling Points) to position yourself as a well-rounded candidate.

    Though you may have several different areas of strength, include only those that are relevant to the job. Adaptability, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and effective communication – it is the list of most common soft skills that can be helpful in any job, so you can choose the one to share with the hiring manager that best describes you.

    But to make your answer stronger, the skill should be specific to the job you are applying for. Be certain to give examples of how this skill helped you in your last job.

Pro Tip

It is important to be able to distinguish your skills from personal qualities. The first are acquired in the process of work and training, and the second characterize you as a person.

10. 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.

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This page has been updated on February 6, 2021.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions for Staff Assistant by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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