Interview Prep: What Questions Should An Assistant Ask?

Stand out from the crowd

Congratulations! After carefully updating and submitting your resume and cover letter, you’ve been invited to an interview. You’ve researched the department or organization, and secured insights into its people and operations. You’ve picked apart the position description to try and anticipate questions the employer or interview panel may have of you, and developed answers to showcase your fit with the role. You’ve chosen your outfit and shoes, so all that’s left to do is hover between anticipation and stress, right? Not quite … approach a job interview as an opportunity for both parties to mutually assess fit, as follows.

  • The employer needs to assess whether I have what it takes to help them succeed, and how I compare to other candidates
  • I need to determine if the position, compensation package and organization align with my aspirations
  • Both parties are searching for confidence that we can build a good working relationship

So, apart from providing you a closing opportunity to distinguish yourself from other candidates, this portion of an interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your preparedness for and interest in the role. Raise any outstanding questions you may have and gather additional details you need to support your decision should you be offered the position.

While you don’t want to inundate people with questions, have a look at the list below and give thought to which of these themes and questions you may want to incorporate into your interview, and then tailor a small number of questions to the specific role.

Understanding the Organization and Its Priorities

  1. What are the organization’s key priorities over the next six months/year … and how can the incoming Assistant support success on this front?
  2. If I was to start in this role tomorrow and develop my initial “to do” list, what would you recommend as my top three priorities? (You won’t, of course, start anywhere near that soon, but this encourages the employer to see you in the position and can provide valuable insights.)

Working Style, the Position and Future Opportunities

  1. What are two key qualities or personality traits your Assistant will need in order to succeed in the job?
  2. How do you like to work with your Assistant with respect to managing your e-mail and calendar?
  3. What business practices have you and your current Assistant established that you’d like to ensure are maintained?
  4. What changes are you hoping your new Assistant will incorporate? (Be thoughtful in how you phrase this; while one Assistant’s departure often marks the ideal opportunity to incorporate change, you want to broach the matter in a respectful manner.)
  5. What does a typical work week, if there is such a thing, look like in this role?
  6. How did this opportunity come about? Is the incumbent moving elsewhere within the organization, or is this a new position?
  7. Are there opportunities for growth and assumption of additional responsibilities/career development?

Workplace Culture

  1. What do you particularly enjoy about working here?
  2. What advice would you give someone stepping into this role?
  3. I understand the organization prides itself on “A” and “B” (here’s where your research kicks in); can you tell me a bit about the office culture, and how I may fit in?
  4. What are the greatest challenges and opportunities you see for the successful candidate?

Supporting the Employer’s Decision Making

  1. After reviewing my resume, and today’s meeting, is there anything else you’d like to know about me to support your decision making?

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