Job of a secretary belongs to most popular positions among women of all ages, all around the world. 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, and help in the office). But what will happen in your interview? What questions you will face, and how to succeed? Let’s try to find the answers together, starting right with the questions.
Tell me about yourself
An icebreaker really, at least in this case. Try to make a short introduction, but mention a few interesting points they can elaborate on later on, such as any relevant experience you have (“I’ve worked in customer service for two years”), education and computer skills (“been working with MS Office for a decade”), and also something from your personal life, things you enjoy doing outside of work (“running is my biggest hobby”).
The first answer should help you relax a bit, and in some cases it can also lead to interesting discussion with the interviewers. Another idea is bridging the introduction with your job application, explaining where you are right now in your professional career, how it relates to the job, and why you decided to apply with them.
Why do you want to work as 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 and clerical work, 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.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Secretaries shouldn’t dream of promotion, at least not within the company. If you work as a cultural secretary, or some other specific secretarial job things can be different, but most often than not, your options for promotion will be little or non-existent at all :). 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. Of course this doesn’t mean that you cannot get a raise. On the contrary, if you work well, you will get a raise.
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 you–and leaving the job for travels, or because you want to start your own business, does not belong to this category…
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. Job of a secretary often encompasses more than the job description explains, and you should be ready to take care of a variety of duties. What’s more, think about the exact secretarial role you will have. School secretary does different things than medical secretary and cultural secretary. You should keep these differences on your mind.
Special Tip: Want to practice your interview answers later? Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice anytime you want:
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 Microsoft), tell them about it. Show them that you understand the importance of your computer skills, and are constantly trying to improve on them.
And if you have little experience, you can refer to your computer intelligence, ensuring the hiring managers that you will quickly learn to work with any software solution they have in place in the company. Show them that you always try to improve your skills and learn new things–that’s the attitude they seek in the best job candidates.
Other questions you may face in your secretary interview
- Why do you want to work as a secretary here, and not in some other company, institution?
- Why did you leave your last job? (Why do you want to leave your present job?)
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- How would you cope with an angry customer/client/guest?
- What do you want to accomplish on this position?
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
- Describe your best boss and worst boss.
- Tell us about a conflict you had with a colleague in one of your former jobs.
- Describe a situation when you had to meet a tight deadline.
- Do you have experience with preparing letters, reports, bulletins, handbooks?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What are three things you look for in an ideal job?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of many other candidates who try to get this secretary position?
Special Tip: To know how to answer a question, and to come up with a great and unique answer on a big day are two different things. If you experience anxiety, do not know how to answer the questions, or want to gain a competitive edge in your secretary interview, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Multiple brilliant answers to all questions you may face in your Secretary interview (including the dreaded scenario-based questions) will make your life much easier on the big day. Check the sample answers on product page and see for yourself…
On some occasions you do not need the very best answers
If your interviewers enjoy the time they spend with you in the office, above-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, not to say your excellent interviewing skills, may not help you 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, the community they serve. Good research you do prior to the start of your interview is pivotal in this case. Learn something about their organization, and use the information to connect with the interviewers.
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a secretary belongs to difficult job interviews, for a simple reason–competition. In order to choose the best job candidate, hiring managers may ask you plethora of scenario-based and tricky questions, such as “Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work” or “Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know“.
If you want to make sure that you have a great answer ready for each of these questions, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 sample answers to all questions you may realistically face in your job interview will help you stand out, and get the job.
Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you good luck in your interview!
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling anxious? Check out 4 strategies on how to tackle interview nerves.
- 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…