Last updated on May 5th, 2020 at 02:35 pm

a secretary sits in a leather chair, looking at us. She has eight books on her working table, some papers, and a glass of water. You probably know that a position of a secretary belongs to most popular jobs among women of all ages.

This means that you should prepare for a tough competition in your interview–five, ten, or even twenty other job seekers will compete with you for the same vacancy, especially if you apply for a well-paid secretary job.

What is more, your success in this interview depends not only on your interviewing skills, but also on the connection you manage to build with your interviewers (especially if you apply for a job in a small company, and the person who leads the interview is the same person you will work for).

But what will happen in your interview? What questions you will face, and how to succeed? Let’s try to find the answers together.


Why did you apply for this job of a secretary?

Managers prefer to hire honest secretaries. To say that you are looking for a solid job and good relationship with your colleagues and with your superior is a good one. You can also say that you enjoy doing what secretaries typically do in their daily job–answering calls, greeting guests, organizing  daily schedule, helping with administrative tasks, etc.

The key is to show them that you want the job, and not only need one. Don’t forget to speak with enthusiasm, and try to avoid talking about the past.


What do you think makes a good secretary nowadays?

Focus on relevant skills. Responsibility, positive attitude to work, ability to understand orders, ability to adapt, loyalty to the employer, etc.

Alternatively you can summarize a role of a secretary in a single sentence, saying that a good secretary makes the job of their boss easier, and more pleasant. They help them to be more efficient in what they do, on a daily basis.

You can also add one or two characteristics specific for the type of company or secretary job (legal, executive, medical, etc) you try to get.


The recruiters look surprised with the answer of the job candidate. Their faces betray a lot of suspition. We can see one male and one female recruiter on the picture.Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Secretaries shouldn’t dream of promotion, at least not within the company. Say them that you will be happy to work for them in five years, or somewhere else, doing a good job of a secretary, and enjoying your life outside of work.

Perhaps you have a different idea of your future–and there’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe you want to travel the world, start your own business, or have a child in two years time. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Once you interview for a job, however, you should tell the interviewers what they want to hear from a good candidate for the job.


How do you imagine a typical day in work?

Many people believe that secretaries do nothing but make coffee and answer phone calls. Well, they can’t be further from the truth… You should show a different attitude to your job.

Tell them that you plan helping the boss with their schedule, with the administrative tasks, and basically with anything they need. Try to show them that you are ready to manage the entire office--if required from you, if they do not have someone else taking care of it (office manager, administrative assistant, etc).

It is crucial to show them that you like to be busy in work, and they you prefer a proactive approach to your duties.


Can you work with MS Office (or with other office software)?

Try to mention some details. Instead of saying just yes or no, you should tell them how long you have been working with the software, and how it has helped you in your work.

If you have experience with other software packages (other than the programs from Microsoft), tell them about it. Show them that you understand the importance of your computer skills, and are constantly trying to improve on them…


Other questions you may face in your secretary interview

  • Why do you want to work as an assistant here (at our school, in our office), and not somewhere else?
  • Why did you leave your last job? (Why do you want to leave your present job?)
  • Would you mind accompanying your boss on business trips?
  • How would you cope with an angry customer/client/guest?
  • What do you want to accomplish on this position?
  • Do you have experience with preparing letters, reports, bulletins, handbooks?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Do you have any questions?
  • ………….


Average answers can be good enough- sometimes

Young woman interviews for a secretary job. A close lookup at the faces of HR managers If your interviewers enjoy the time they spend with you in the office, average interview answers may suffice you to succeed.

Oppositely, if they do not feel good with you, if they can’t imagine talking to you on a daily basis, or sharing their office space with you, your exceptional knowledge of MS Office, or your high productivity in work, not to say your excellent interviewing skills, won’t help you to get the job.

Bearing it in mind, you should try your best to be a nice companion in the interview, a good listener. You should also show enthusiasm for the job offer, and for their business–the products or services they sell…


Conclusion and answers to tough questions

Handshake of the boss and the secretary. He wears a black coat, she a pink shirt.You will face many competitors in your interview. If you are not sure how to stand out, and how to make the best possible impression, have a look at an eBook from Jacob Gates, an interview coach from Philadelphia, who wrote this article for us.

In his eBook, the Secretary Interview Guide, Jacob will guide you step by step through the difficult interview process, and show you how to handle every challenge it presents.

If you prefer to continue your preparation with Interview Penguin, please have a look at the following articles:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling anxious? Learn how to get rid of stress and ace your interview.
  • Interview attire special tips – Some interview attire tips for the brave, and for people who like to experiment. Every detail matters in an interview, and you should not underestimate your choice of clothes.
  • Salary negotiation tips – Basic rules you should remember when negotiating a salary in your interview. Learn how to get what you deserve…

Latest posts by Antony (see all)