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Interview Questions for a Secretary Position

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Secretaries perform vital office functions, including preparing business reports, presentations and budgets and interacting with clients and business executives. The top 10 percent of secretaries and administrative assistants earned $49,370 annually or more as of May 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Managers who ask probing questions during interviews can increase their chances of hiring secretaries with the project, organizational and communication skills that fit their company’s administrative needs.

Project Management Skills

Ask the prospective secretary to describe projects she worked on. Focus on projects that the secretary created and managed as well as projects where she played a supporting role. For example, a finance manager could ask a prospective secretary to describe how she prepared overhead slides or PowerPoint presentations for a quarterly departmental budget meeting. Inquire about steps that the secretary took when the project stalled due to managers or other colleagues failing to submit data on time. Ask if the secretary made recommendations to senior managers that helped the project get back on track. These questions examine the secretary’s leadership and independent thinking skills.

Computer Skills

Discuss the prospective secretary’s experience working with computer software applications. For example, secretaries typically need experience with MAC, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and electronic mail application. Should you need a secretary with advanced skills in another software application, such as Quark Express or Photo Shop, solicit examples of jobs where he used these applications. Ask the secretary to describe a time when he created a pivot table, mail merge or multi-page PowerPoint presentation with bullets, tables and notes. This will help you to discover the secretary's level of expertise in using computer software applications.

Prior Industry Experience

Inquire about previous secretarial positions that the secretary filled at an organization that provides services or products similar to those of your firm. For example, a secretary for an insurance company might need working knowledge of the insurance industry to complete monthly reports. A prospective secretary who has only worked at a college or a university might not have the required knowledge and experience to work for a senior insurance company manager. Discover the reason why the secretary left her previous job. You could ask, “Why are you seeking new work? What caused you to decide to leave your last job?” Managers who need a secretary to take dictation should ask how familiar the secretary is with the vocabulary of the particular business. For example, medical professionals might require that secretaries have two or more years of experience with medical terminology.

Training Received

Ask the secretary about office management or administrative training that he received, including on-the-job training or classroom training. A secretary who attended a post-secondary school to earn a certificate or degree might consider the administrative tract his career field. Class study could demonstrate the secretary’s future commitment to the role.

2016 Salary Information for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,730 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, secretaries and administrative assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,990,400 people were employed in the U.S. as secretaries and administrative assistants.