Office Coordinator is another fancy job title for an office worker who, besides typical administrative and clerical duties, takes care of office supplies, and makes sure the office runs smoothly and effectively. Said in simple words, they should monitor whether other office staff has enough blank sheets of paper to print on, and that all files are stored in the proper place and people can find them when needed. Plus a couple of other extra duties. Now, I do not want to suggest this is a bad job, or anything similar. I just want to make sure that you understand right from the start what you will do, because it reflects in the interview questions you will face.
Hiring managers will ask you about your motivation, expectations on the job (that’s a tricky one), future goals, administrative skills, and, of course, about some tricky situations you may face while coordinating the office. Think conflict with one of the clerks, missing supplies, people not working effectively, and so on. The key is to demonstrate that you have experience with similar situations, and know what you should do to make sure the office runs as smoothly as possible. Let’s have a look at the questions, one by one.
Why do you want to work as an Office Coordinator?
The core of your message should consist in the following: You’ve done your time in the office, as an assistant, secretary, clerk, whatever. Over the years (or months) you’ve seen the challenges people in the office face, and learned what one has to do to coordinate them effectively.
Now, with your experience and passion for office work, you believe to be a right fit for the job of a coordinator, which adds a little extra responsibility, and a bit of extra money, to the former jobs you had. Considering your strengths and experience, you simply see it as a great match.
You may also venture a bit into the future in your answer. Perhaps you want to work as an office manager eventually, or have other job related to managing the office and the people working in it. Office coordinator is a logical next step in your journey, because when you prove your skills and dedication to work as an office coordinator, they should have no problems promoting you to a managerial role.
What do you expect from this job? How do you imagine a typical day in work as an Office Coordinator?
The key is to show realistic expectations. You shouldn’t see a job as something it isn’t–a managerial position. Coordinator is neither a supervisor nor a manager. You will coordinate the office, but the majority of your work will still consist in typical administrative and clerical tasks. Think scheduling meetings, retyping something from paper to computer, dealing with correspondence, and so on. The exact duties depend on your place of work, and you should read the job description one more time before the start of your interview.
Say them that you expect to do exactly that, plus, on the top of that, coordinating the office. Which means making sure everyone has everything they need to take care of their work, all bills are paid (so someone would not shut down the electricity in any moment), and that work is effectively allocated to the office employees (so it doesn’t happens that one guy has his hands full from nine to six while two others stare at their computer screen, not really knowing what to do)…
Try to speak with some enthusiasm when describing your vision of the job. Hiring managers should get an impression that you are looking forward to your typical day at work.
Describe your experience using MS Excel (Word, XYZ software, etc)
Each company has some processes in place. People in the office use certain software programs. And while MS Office is the standard, it certainly isn’t the only software you will find in the offices across the US (and elsewhere in the world). When they ask you about your experience with some software or tool, try to avoid short answers, such as “I can work with it”. You should always elaborate on it, and include some numbers in your answer.
Tell them how long you’ve worked with the software, the principal things you did, the version of the program, and any other relevant information. And if you happen to lack the skills with the program they inquire about, ensure them that you are willing to learn, and that with your excellent computer intelligence (and right attitude), you’ll have no problem learning to work with any tool or software they may use in the office.
How do you want to make sure that the work is distributed equally in the office?
In reality this will rarely be the case. Some people will do more than others–that’s just the case in every business, and it has little to do with management or office coordination. They do more simply because they are more hardworking, or can typewrite more quickly, or are more intelligent and can handle more workload. In an interview, however, you shouldn’t say this.
On the contrary, ensure the hiring managers that you want to have an open and honest communication with every person in the office. If they lack something, or do not know something, they will tell you immediately, so you can remedy the situation and they can return to work again. Regular one on one meetings, during which employees can confide in you, or at least explain the issues their face, can also help a lot with the effective allocation of work.
Last but not least, you can emphasize that you want to work with your eyes open, and as soon as you spot someone is just sitting idle, or looks nervous, or whatever, you will go and talk to them, addressing the issue promptly, so they can return to work.
Office work is repetitive, and employees may lose their motivation. How do you plan to deal with the issue?
It isn’t entirely clear whether they inquire about your own motivation, or the motivation of other people in the office (those you will “coordinate”). So let me address both. When talking about your own motivation, you can either focus on your goals (both career and personal, basically the reasons why you go to job), or say that the coordinator job adds the little extra variety to a normally mundane office work, which will help you break the routine and stay motivated.
Talking about other office employees, you can say that you will address each issue of motivation individually. Observing the employee and talking to them, you will try to understand the core of the problem, and then address it. Another option is saying that you will vouch for setting clear and tangible productivity goals for each person in the office. Such targets should keep them motivated and engaged, especially if failing to meet them would have an impact on their monthly salary (or bonuses)…
How do you plan to keep the office expenditures as low as possible?
Profit margins are tight in almost every industry nowadays. Companies do not want to hire office coordinators who will blindly throw money left and right, knowing that they aren’t spending their own resources… Ensure them that you are no money waster, and understand that each dollar matters.
That’s why you will always look for the best deals when purchasing some office supplies. What’s more, you will keep your eye on other office employees, making sure they aren’t wasting the resources. You can also talk about suppliers of electricity, internet, or the company who rents the offices to your employer (if that’s the case). Keeping such contracts in check and trying to negotiate the best possible deals with the suppliers, you make sure to save some money for your employer.
Of course, whether you will have any negotiation power (and whether it actually will be your responsibility to negotiate with suppliers) depends a lot on your future place of work, organization of their offices, and other factors. It won’t hurt showing the right attitude though, and that is doing what you can to get the best deals, and coordinate the office in a cost-effective way…
Other questions you may face in your office coordinator interview
- Tell us about a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in your previous job.
- Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now? Do you have any particular position on your mind?
- Do you have any experience with basic bookkeeping?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Many people apply for this job. Why should we choose you over other candidates?
- What goals will you set for yourself as our new office coordinator?
Office coordinator is a fancy job title which typically attracts many job applicants, for two main reasons: Low entry barrier, and a good salary offer considering the type of work and workload. If for no other reason than that, we have to categorize this interview as a difficult one. When you compete with ten, or twenty, or fifty people for one vacancy, it is always difficult–regardless of the questions you face.
Try to learn as much as you can about your future employer, and think about each question from this article. Think about your answer, and the attitude you want to demonstrate with it. It won’t be easy to succeed in this one, but when you give your preparation a good shot, you can do it. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Office Manager interview questions
- How to overcome interview nerves
- Office Clerk interview questions