Job Interviewing Tips for Admin and Clerical Jobs

Diverse businesswomen work together on project

Cheerful mid adult African American and young Caucasian businesswomen discuss something in the office. They are reviewing documents at the Caucasian woman’s desk. A man is working in the background.

One of the advantages of interviewing for an administrative or clerical job is the large number of sample interview questions on the Internet. You only need to search “preparing for an administrative or clerical job” and find several pages of sites offering ideas. We’ll share the most pertinent questions and help you ensure you’re not caught off-guard in the interview.

Just preparing answers for likely questions can help you better present yourself to a prospective employer.

Sample Questions

How does your past work experience relate to this job?

  • This can be a bit challenging if you’re making a career shift. But try to isolate skills from the previous job that could apply to clerical or administrative work. In other words, a warehouse worker might have developed strong organizational skills – enough to make the leap to a new career.

 What computer software have you used?

  • Take stock of software you know well enough to move into a job and begin using it right away. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access are all good starting points. Are there other specialized programs you’re used to using? Make it clear you’re willing to learn additional software that might be needed for the job.

Update: Because so much software is actually browser-based, being well-versed in Google Docs or other Google apps is worth mentioning.

Clerical Jobs Require Special Skill Set

Do you have experience setting up meetings, both in person and via the internet or phone?

  • Ensure you include the experience you might have setting up meeting rooms, ensuring reports are in place and even dealing with last-minute changes.

Update: If you are unsure of current tech, explore, Uberconference, Skype and Google Hangouts for a broad sense of what’s out there.

Have you ever had to keep certain types of information confidential in a previous job?

  • This type of question speaks to character and good judgment of the job candidate. It’s more important than ever, given the electronic nature of many communications.

What experience have you had with the public?

  • People in administrative or clerical positions often fulfill the role of gatekeeper so being able to greet people, direct them to meeting areas and provide a warm welcome are all important parts of the job.

In general, you will need a number of competencies or skills for most jobs, but some are especially important for administrative and clerical positions. Those include:

  • the ability to use good judgment based on information you’ve gathered and analyzed
  • having high work standards
  • being reliable and organized

Understanding the importance of these skills will also help you customize your résumé for this type of job.

Building Confidence

Anticipating these types of questions and what your answers might be will help you sound confident. But there’s another type of question to prepare for: the so-called “behavioral questions.” These are the types of questions an interviewer asks to determine if your past behavior and processes are likely to work in the new position. Questions like “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another employee. What did you do to work it out?”

Based on the job description and requirements, you can usually get a feel for what these behavioral questions might involve. Still, listen carefully when these types of questions are asked. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, especially if you need to buy a little time to formulate an answer.

Remember that with behavioral questions, there are no right or wrong answers. However, you need to be confident in your responses to maintain credibility.

Update: Do you have a great attitude? Talk about what you do to maintain it! As employers look for candidates that fit their culture, attitude is a soft skill to discuss. Everyone has different personalities. But a good attitude generally means staying positive or having a healthy outlook even when life is challenging. Just get plenty of sleep before your interview!

Lastly, keep in mind an interview is just an intense conversation.  Don’t overthink it.  As you continue your job search, think of each interview as a way to build your confidence in your skillset.  Even if an employer doesn’t follow up or flat-out rejects you, reflect on what you learned during the interview.  As you do more interviews you may pick up on what employers were particularly interested in, and use that as your main focus in your next one.

Regardless of the type of job you’re looking for, Corridor Careers should be one of your first stops in your job hunt in the Iowa Corridor.

Job Search