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Interviewing Tips for Administrative Assistant Jobs

by Lisa Finn

Administrative assistant jobs in the workplace are expected to grow 12 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Organizational skills, a friendly demeanor and the ability to complete tasks on deadline support office efficiency. When interviewing for an administrative assistant position, be sure to ask specifically what the job entails. Admin jobs range from answering phones, scheduling appointments and setting up virtual meeting rooms to charting budgets, purchasing merchandise and trouble-shooting software problems. Depending on the industry and location, an administrative assistant's pay and job scope vary greatly.

Show Professionalism

The primary role of an administrative assistant is to communicate. Whether on the phone, in person or through e-mail, an admin assistant must be well-mannered and articulate in writing and in person. Because of this, your best self must be presented during the interview. Arrive on time, sit up straight, smile, be well groomed and turn off your cell phone. Listen closely and engage in a lively, dynamic conversation. The interviewer is watching to see how you answer questions, how your thought process works and whether you look her in the eye when speaking. These things reveal honesty, interest level and ability to think quickly under pressure. Within 24 hours of the interview, send a personal electronic thank-you note to all your interviewers.

Dress Appropriately

While some companies have receptionists, others rely on the administrative assistant to answer phones and greet clients. Because the company's administrative assistant may be the first point of contact, it's crucial to dress professionally to show respect to the company and its clients. Women should wear a tailored (not tight) skirt or pant suit, crisp blouse and close-toed shoes. Men look best in a navy or gray suit, white shirt and conservative tie. According to Ringo Nishioka, a 20-year human resources veteran and chief operating officer of Seattle-based BigDoor, always cover up tattoos and take out piercings. "You want to maximize your chances of getting hired. Don't take the risk of offending anyone."

Know Your Worth

The median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $34,660 in May 2010, reports the BLS. To more closely define an administrative assistant salary in your city, consult a website such as Payscale. Depending on the industry, location, and administrative duties and responsibilities, your salary can fluctuate greatly. According to LA-based Glassdoor, Inc., an administrative assistant in California earns $41,575 annually; in Washington, D.C. it's $39,500; and in Kentucky the annual wage is $24,200. Additional ways of getting fresh salary information includes networking at professional meetings, connecting with other job seekers online and calling local recruiters to ask about the going rate.

Talk Up Computer Skills

In today's offices, it's crucial to have an extensive knowledge of computer software applications. Talk about your spread sheet, data management and electronic filing system know-how. If the industry is advertising, it's important to talk about the ways social media helps clients, and what role the administrative assistant plays in helping the company's online presence. When interviewing for a school administrative job, discuss the role of email communication with parents, posting online grades and notices, and electronic bill paying.

Be Prepared and Organized

Research the company before the interview. Visit the company's website and review articles that discuss the organization or its clients. In the interview, ask pointed questions based on what you read: "I understand you just implemented a new diversity program. How did the current administrative assistant help with that?" or "Which of your health care clients would I be assisting?" In addition, show your organizational skills by having extra copies of your professional-looking resume, a notepad to write down important details and easy-to-recall examples of administrative assistant projects that you successfully completed.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

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