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Program Assistant Interview Questions

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  1. What’s your experience with using event planning and project management software? See answer
  2. How would you rank the importance of administrative skills in completing the program assistant job compared to others like data handling? See answer
  3. Tell me about your experience with making presentation slide decks for other people on topics that you may not be an expert on. See answer
  4. Three managers come to you with different tasks that need to be scheduled. How do you prioritize your workload? See answer
  5. Have you ever come across a situation in which you needed to handle confidential information for team members or clients? See answer
  6. What steps would you take if you noticed that a program’s website listed the incorrect dates for an upcoming event?
  7. If a customer calls with a question and you know multiple people on your team could answer it, how would you decide who to forward the call to?
  8. How would you respond if a manager asked you to handle a task that you were completely unfamiliar with?
  9. What would you do if you visited a program site to set up for an event but none of the requested supplies and equipment were ready on-site?
  10. How do you decide when to escalate an issue to management and when to handle it yourself?
  11. Do you have experience recording minutes for meetings? How do you accurately summarize busy meetings with rapidly shifting topics of conversation?
  12. Imagine that you needed to collect signatures from each department head to move forward with a program. What would you do if one of the department heads wasn’t responding to your emails or calls?
  13. Are you comfortable calling vendors to get quotes for program costs?
  14. What would you do if you were the only person staffing the welcome table at an event or program and your manager called asking you to run an errand for the office?
  15. Do you have experience creating complex print jobs using different combinations of color, black and white, hole punching, stapling, collating and other features?
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6 Program Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What’s your experience with using event planning and project management software?

A:

Your program assistant will be shouldering the majority of the detailed work involved in planning and executing a project. This may include scheduling tasks, facilitating communication, and making important calls. As such, it’s important that your candidate has excellent time management skills and is able to fulfill the different needs of various team members. Familiarity with planning software can help to minimize mistakes and improve efficiency. What to look for in an answer:

  • Names the software that he or she is familiar with
  • Capable of handling detailed work
  • Enjoys a fast-paced work environment

Example:

“My go-to project management software is Monday.com because I’m able to add my team’s contact information into the system so that everyone is able to see updates in real time.”

Q:

How would you rank the importance of administrative skills in completing the program assistant job compared to others like data handling?

A:

The program assistant position requires candidates to be able to perform a number of supporting tasks, some requiring more technical skill and others focusing more on communication skills. A large portion of your candidate’s time will be spent on ensuring that events are planned correctly and that team members are notified of any changes to their schedule. Other times, the program assistant will need to complete more technical work, such as researching to create a presentation. Your candidate’s answer to this question can help you to match them with the right team. What to look for in an answer:

  • Explains the rationale behind choosing one skill over the other
  • Eager to learn
  • Strong communication skills

Example:

“I believe the best program assistants will have strong administrative skills above all else, as our main job is to support other team members.”

Q:

Tell me about your experience with making presentation slide decks for other people on topics that you may not be an expert on.

A:

In some cases, managers may have many responsibilities that they’re juggling and will not be able to spend several hours creating a beautifully crafted slide deck to show to clients. During these times, the program assistant will take over but may need to do extra research on the project to ensure that the presenter has the right information. Your candidate should be comfortable conducting external research and know where to find reliable data. What to look for in an answer:

  • Enjoys conducting research
  • Has an aptitude for detail-oriented work
  • Examples of previous experience with creating presentation slides

Example:

“My manager needed a slide deck to present on developments in solar photovoltaic energy, so I created a PowerPoint presentation using data from government websites.”

Q:

Three managers come to you with different tasks that need to be scheduled. How do you prioritize your workload?

A:

Depending on the size of your organization, there may be one program assistant who’s in charge of taking care of the back office needs of several managers and teams. This means that your candidate may need to juggle requests from multiple sources and work with tight scheduling timelines. It’s important that your candidate has a clear approach to prioritizing his or her workload to ensure that all parties are satisfied and that the work is completed on time. What to look for in an answer:

  • Enjoys working in a fast-paced environment
  • Gives a clear strategy for prioritizing certain requests
  • Strong communication skills

Example:

“I generally complete requests in the order that I receive them to keep everything fair unless a request is extremely time-sensitive and can make or break a project deal.”

Q:

Have you ever come across a situation in which you needed to handle confidential information for team members or clients?

A:

Since the program assistant works with a diverse set of stakeholders and handles the schedules of many people, there may be times when he or she must keep the information confidential in order to keep a project under wraps until the organization is ready to publicize it. These circumstances may hold important ramifications for an organization’s long-term growth strategy or profitability, so you should seek out candidates who are able to ensure that confidential information is kept private. What to look for in an answer:

  • Cites examples of working with client or team information that must be kept confidential
  • Excellent integrity
  • Understands larger business and legal ramifications relating to confidential information

Example:

“I was a program assistant for one of Nike’s advertising campaigns for a new shoe and needed to keep the names of celebrity partnerships confidential.”

Q:

What steps would you take if you noticed that a program's website listed the incorrect dates for an upcoming event?

A:

Program assistants provide support to all areas of a program's development, acting as an organizer and point-of-contact for both employees and program participants or customers. Interviewers can ask this question to find proactive, observant candidates who understand both the impact of incorrect information on a program and potential solutions to mitigate problems.

A good answer should display:

  • Communication
  • Documentation of changes
  • Urgency and initiative

This example demonstrates a successful response:

Example:

"I'd start by immediately communicating with my colleagues about the error so we can all be on the same page if a misinformed customer asked questions. I'd look for any other places that replicated the mistake, open a ticket with IT to correct the website and email participants and clients about the error, emphasizing the correct information."

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