8 Personal Assistant Interview Questions and Awesome Answers

Coach yourself for your personal assistant interview. With these dazzling sample answers you’ll be able to show off your full potential! 

8 Personal Assistant Interview Questions and Awesome Answers 1

Your personal assistant interview

The dreaded personal assistant interview: whether you’re a seasoned pro or a fresh-fashed personal assistant, this is hands-down the hardest, most nervewracking part of the application process. 

It may feel like there’s a heck of a lot of pressure riding on one short conversation. After all, it’s the last hurdle standing between you and your dream personal assistant job.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s easier than it looks. And to prove it, I’m going to run you through the 8 most common personal assistant interview questions and give you some great sample answers showing you how it’s done. 

By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll be raring to go, or maybe just a little more relaxed about it all. Let’s get started!

1: Why would you make a good personal assistant?

It’s a safe bet that you’ll be asked this in every personal assistant interview. It may seem fairly straightforward, but you really do need to prepare your answer in advance, otherwise, you run the risk of rambling (and probably sending the interviewer to sleep). 

 

What employers are looking for: 

  • Professionalism 
  • Organisation and punctuality skills
  • Communication 
  • Conscientious attitude 

 

For example: 

I would make an excellent PA because I am a confident, conscientious and well-organised person who is able to communicate clearly and meet strict deadlines. I enjoy working under pressure and take pride in achieving great outcomes, for myself, my boss and the company. I approach my work with a positive attitude and professionalism, a quality which I believe every outstanding personal assistant must-have.

2: What qualities do you believe every good personal assistant needs to have?

It’s one thing knowing why you’re a good PA, but your future employer wants to know whether you truly understand what it takes to be a great personal assistant. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but you need to prove that you fully understand the role. FYI, you need to have read the job description to answer this. 

What employers are looking for: 

  • Personable and friendly
  • Excellent communicator 
  • Organised and an able multi-tasker

 

For example: 

 Every good personal assistant will have the ability to communicate in a clear, personable and friendly manner with clients and colleagues. The best personal assistants are extremely organised and highly competent multi-taskers. But most importantly, they are conscientious and care deeply about the work they do each day. 

 If you’re still a little unsure about the qualities you’ll need to be a great PA, check out this article on the Jump Academy: 10 personality traits of a perfect personal assistant

3: Do you have strategies for managing your time to meet multiple deadlines?

There are no prizes for guessing that your future employer is looking for a PA who can handle the pressure. But to land the job you’ve got to show them that you have developed strategies to manage your time well. You should explain the strategies you use when confronted with multiple deadlines and whether you use any time management tools, such as Trello, Google Calendars etc. 

 

What employers are looking for: 

  • Examples of you actually multitasking
  • Ability to work under pressure 
  • Organisation and time management skills 
  • Ability to prioritise work

 

For example: 

I’m able to remain composed and focused in the face of multiple deadlines. I am able to balance my time effectively, always ensuring that I have scoped tasks fully and have prioritised my to-do list. I approach tasks by making detailed to-do lists and by scheduling my time with organisational applications, such as Trello. For example, I employed these strategies when I was asked to organise my Exec’s accommodation abroad while simultaneously organising an event for 500 people.

4: What do you believe a personal assistant brings to a company?

In any personal assistant interview, you’ll have to think on your feet – this is a hard question. For most personal assistants and executive assistants, no two days are alike – this makes it pretty tricky to put your finger on the one thing that you bring to the table. But the answer is more simple than you’d imagine: as a PA, you are essential to the smooth running of the entire company. 

 

What employers are looking for: 

  • A person that understands how they fit into the bigger picture 
  • Realises the importance of an assistant in the office 
  • Has the motivation and tenacity to excel as a personal assistant 

 

For example: 

 In my experience, the most rewarding aspect of being a personal assistant is that I’m part of something bigger. I know that I play a crucial role in ensuring my colleagues are able to complete their work. As a PA my work has a huge effect on the entire company, as I make strategic business decisions, avert crises and convey the messages of executives to colleagues.

5: Which software programmes are you familiar with and how would you describe your computer skills?

It’s 2020, we’ve got virtual reality and driverless vehicles. Employers expect you to at least know how to use a spreadsheet. PAs will often be asked to make business decisions, to create reports and presentations, which means you need to know a thing or two about computers and how to leverage software to maximise efficiency. 

 

What employers are looking for:

  • Computer literacy: think all the essential programmes here (Microsoft Office suite)
  • Proficiency with organisational and industry-specific software
  • The versatility and adaptability to learn the ins and outs of new software quickly

 

For example:

I would describe my computer skills as excellent, as I’m well-versed in the full Microsoft Office suite and have used numerous assistant specific programmes over my career. In my last job, I was often tasked with creating reports and presentations using Google Docs and Sheets, as well as organising my executive’s time with Trello. I’m a fast learner and never shy away from tech-challenges.

6: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

It’s a classic question. And the best bit is that it’s super easy to answer. But somehow it’s a question that loads of otherwise perfect personal assistants get stumped by. All you need to do is explain that you hope to forge a career at the company and that you are committed to self-development. 

 

What employers are looking for: 

  • A PA who will prove successful in the role, not someone job hopping
  • Ambition and determination to achieve career success 

 

For example: 

In five years time, I hope to be working as a PA with your company. I want to have built great relationships with my colleagues here and be a trusted member of the team who is able to take on responsibility and execute tasks efficiently. I also hope that by working with this company I will have developed my skillset and especially my understanding of the industry.

7: What would you do if you were writing a confidential report on behalf of an executive and another C-level executive asked to read it?

Personal assistants and executive assistants often handle sensitive information on behalf of top-level execs. This means that you’ll have to prove you’re a trustworthy, competent and discreet professional in the workplace. Respecting confidentiality, navigating office politics and maintaining complete professionalism are essential parts of any assistant job! 

 

What employers are looking for:

  • Discretion and complete confidentiality 
  • Ability to handle sensitive information in accordance with protocols
  • Trustworthiness that allows execs to have confidence 

 

For example:

Seeing as I have not been given permission to disclose any information, I would politely inform the other executive that I will not be able to share the report with them as it is confidential. 

8: Describe a time when you have had to deal with a difficult person?

You’ll come across difficult people in all walks of life. But I’m willing to wager that personal assistants deal with more than their fair share! This is a common competency question that employers will ask to assess your ability to act diplomatically and deescalate situations. Remember to structure your answer using the STAR technique!

 

What employers are looking for: 

  • Customer service skills 
  • Diplomacy 
  • Empathy
  • Quick thinking 

 

For example: 

In my previous job, there was an occasion where a disgruntled customer became irately angry and demanded that I allow them to speak with the CEO. The CEO was engaged with important meetings throughout the day and had no free time to deal with this customer. So I politely explained the situation to the customer and offered to pass on a message to the CEO at the very first possible opportunity. They became calm and reasonable once it was clear that I understood why they were upset and offered a fair alternative. I even found them another executive to discuss their complaint with in the meantime.

 

And there you have it. Good luck with the interview, you’ll smash it!

While you’re waiting, make sure to check out the great Personal Assistant jobs at top companies on Jump!

And don’t forget to take a look around the Jump Academy which has great articles written just for personal assistants, including the 8 must-read tips for starting your new personal assistant job. Good luck with your personal assistant interview – you’ve got this.

 

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