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Secretary Interview

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 22nd, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 25
Do you always double check or proofread your work?
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How to Answer
Often, as a secretary, you will be the last person to see written forms of communication before they go out to clients and vendors. Double checking and proofreading are essential parts of a job well done. Assure the interviewer that you are diligent when it comes to submitting good, clean, work.
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Top 25 Secretary Interview Questions with Full Content
Do you always double check or proofread your work?
Often, as a secretary, you will be the last person to see written forms of communication before they go out to clients and vendors. Double checking and proofreading are essential parts of a job well done. Assure the interviewer that you are diligent when it comes to submitting good, clean, work.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Spelling and grammatical errors are a pet peeve of mine. I will triple check my work if there is time! I feel that it is critical to submit error-free work."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am so accustomed to working under pressure and tight deadlines from my time in University. Lack of proofreading would cost me precious marks, so I always proof before sending!"
Tell me about your cash handling experience.
Some administrators handle cash regularly, and many handle the petty cash for their office. Simply share any cash handling experience that you have even if you were not in an administrative role at the time.

Remember working at that fast food restaurant or grocery store as a teenager? You can draw off of that experience, as well. Share where you worked, how often you handled cash, and if you were responsible for balancing your drawer at the end of each shift.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have been handling cash on the job since I was a teenager. It's no problem for me. I have strong attention to detail and can ensure there are no discrepancies."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not yet had the opportunity to handle cash in any previous roles; however, I am very trustworthy, excellent with numbers, and able to handle the responsibility that comes with the task of handling funds."
Have you ever coordinated an event? How did it go?
The interviewer would like to know you understand the ins and outs of event coordination. If you have coordinated an event, pick your favorite one that turned out the best! Explain why you were organizing the event, what steps you took to coordinate everything and provide a brief overview of what the event entailed. How many people were there? Finally, be sure to express how pleased you were with the outcome of the event, and share any kudos you received from event attendees regarding the execution of the event.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I coordinated my first event last month, helping my boss throw a client appreciation party. The party was for approximately 200 people. I helped find the caterer, had the invitations designed and sent, and then was responsible for the follow-up thank you's post-party. It was a great event, and I loved every minute of the planning process. Will there be event coordination responsibilities in this role?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If you have not coordinated an event, that is okay! Just tell the interviewer that you have not had experience organizing an event, and you look forward to taking this on as part of your duties! Then, share that you would seek out a mentor, such as another co-worker, the first time around to assist you with the process to ensure you execute the event flawlessly."
How does this administration position fit into your career goals?
Is this particular position a good fit? Is it a step up in your career or - a stagnant move that you are just complacent with taking until something better comes along? Assure the interviewer that this position will be challenging for you, is a step up in responsibilities, and that it fits with your overall career goals.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My primary goal in my career as an administrative assistant is to eventually work my way from an Administrator level to an HR professional role. I feel that what your organization offers is a strong path towards those goals and I am excited about what this position has to offer."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My primary career goal is to find a position where I can stay long term. Because your company has such a strong reputation for workplace culture, it fits perfectly with my desires for a long-term fit."
Why did you leave your last job?
Be honest with the interviewer about why you left your last job ensuring that you focus on yourself instead of the company. Talk about why you made the decision to leave the company to better yourself.

You might say, "I chose to leave my last job for a job with better hours that would allow me to spend more time with my family"

You may state, "I really liked my last job, and I could tell I was starting to outgrow my responsibilities. I want to find a job that is more challenging."

You might mention that you left for a higher paying job at another company, a promotional opportunity, or the opportunity to work for a company that you have had your eye on for a long time. If you were laid off from your last job, simply say you were laid off.

What happens if you were terminated from your last job? It can be a bit uncomfortable to talk about, but you need to be honest with the interviewer. Share why you were let go from the company taking complete responsibility for your actions that resulted in your termination. Finally, share what steps you have taken to ensure you are never let go again.
Rachelle's Answer #1
"I chose to leave my last job for a job with better hours that would allow me to spend more time with my family"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I left my last role because the company went under. I enjoyed the work and would have stayed otherwise. I don't like to jump around from position to position and would like to find a long-term fit for my next opportunity."
Tell me about yourself.
When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful admin career, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a very active individual who loves to workout and goes to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my work during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer!"
Have you ever taken a role in a company that hasn't fit into your long-term career plans?
Most people have taken on a position that was not a fit for them in the end. It's best to openly discuss any positions that you have held that were not a fit. This will assist the interviewer in being able to place you within their organization accurately. Be sure to end your answer on a positive note, discussing how you bounced back from the misstep.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Yes, you will see that from March to May 2007 I held a role as Executive Assistant with Company XYZ. This particular role was not what I was expecting and had little to do with administration and more to do with cold calling from the phone book. This wasn't nurturing my plan to grow the admin side of my career, so I resigned after just two months. Luckily I landed a wonderful job immediately after and grew with that company for the following six years."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not taken a position simply to have a job. I am cautious who I work for and am happy that my discretion has worked well for me and my career path."
Describe a bad customer service experience you have had in the past and how you handled it?
The interviewer would like to know that you understand the ill effects that follow poor customer service. Focusing on a time when you received terrible customer service is a great way to approach this question.

Think about a time when you received bad service. Explain where you were at, the poor service you received and how you reacted. Next, share how you would have handled the situation differently if you were the one in the employee's shoes, and mention how outstanding customer service is to maintain the company's positive reputation.
Rachelle's Answer #1
"I recently visited a lawyer's office where the receptionist was very dismissive. It didn't make me feel comfortable, so I ended up leaving and finding new representation. I understand that a secretary or receptionist is the first impression of any business which is why I will be ready with a warm welcome for anyone who comes through your doors."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have had many bad experiences yet also some great ones, related to customer service. Generally speaking, the worse experiences have been in a mall or retail environment where little training is offered, and pay is minimal. I am sure to give great customer service because I understand that I am often the customers' first impression."
What signs of trust have you demonstrated in the past while working?
Being a trustworthy employee is incredibly important in any career path. As an administrator, you are often working independently without much direct supervision, and employers need to be able to trust that you do not take advantage of the situation. Discuss the ways that you demonstrate that you are trustworthy.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I show trust in the workplace by being one step ahead of my employer, at all times. I am ready to take on any challenge they give me, without complaint. I also spend time learning new skills and expanding my existing skill set. I do this through reading, taking workshops, and staying up to date on new software trends."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Trust can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, such as:

- Always arriving to work on time.
- Completing your daily tasks.
- Being consistently open to feedback.
- Being a team player and helping out when needed.
- Accepting changes to processes and procedures with a positive attitude.
- Always having a balanced drawer, if you handle cash.
- Displaying a willingness to learn new duties."
Tell me about a time when you improved communication between yourself and a co-worker or client.
Possessing the skills to improve communication in the workplace is a very valuable asset. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to improve communication in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current position I have one particular client who was an exceptionally brief communicator. If I asked 2 questions, he would answer just one. I learned quickly that he would not acknowledge anything he did not have a direct answer for. I began to ask him questions in a different way. For example, I would say 'Do you have an answer for me on question X?' and he would say yes or no. We would then go from there. This was an effective method of communication for that particular client."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I had a client who often missed email updates. It caused us to cross our wires a few times. I suggested that we book a quick call every week to review any outstanding areas that need to be addressed. This process worked really well for us."
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