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Secretary Interview Questions

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  1. What experience do you have using a multi-line phone system, and how do you manage calls when it’s busy? See answer
  2. Are you familiar with composing meeting minutes? Can you provide an example from your previous role? See answer
  3. In your previous work as a secretary, can you describe how you managed multiple people’s calendars using scheduling software?
  4. Can you rate your verbal and written communication abilities as a secretary in a professional setting?
  5. Can you tell me your experience maintaining and filing large amounts of paperwork?
  6. What is the most rewarding part about being a secretary?
  7. An executive is in a meeting, but a client demands to speak with them now. How do you handle the situation?
  8. Multiple employees ask for your help at the same time. How do you communicate with them to determine priorities?
  9. Can you tell me about a time when you had to maintain discretion about confidential information? How did you respond to inquiries from unauthorized personnel?
  10. What is the largest event or meeting you’ve had to plan? Can you tell me about how your planning process?
  11. A visitor comes in and asks to speak with someone you don’t know. How do you approach the situation to come to a resolution?
  12. How do you feel about running errands for company leaders and employees? Do you have a vehicle to use?
  13. Have you ever sent out an email or memo with a typo in it? How did you address the situation?
  14. How would you describe your organizational skills? What examples can you provide that relate to a secretary role?
  15. A client calls with a complaint about your company’s services. How do you react and who do you transfer them to?
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6 Secretary Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

In your previous work as a secretary, describe how you managed multiple people’s calendars using scheduling software.

A:

This question is critically important as your secretary will need to keep track of your meetings, trips and other events. You may also assign this person to manage your colleague’s calendars. An ideal candidate will have extensive practice using calendar management software. Their answer to this question will qualify them for this aspect of the job. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience using calendar software
  • Practice managing multiple schedule’s at once
  • Ability to communicate clearly with others about their schedules

Example:

“As a longtime secretary, I have kept up to date with the latest calendar technology. I have managed schedules for up to 10 people at a time and have effectively set up meetings, appointments and trips for others with few errors.”

Q:

Please rate your verbal and written communication abilities in a professional setting.

A:

The ability to communicate effectively, whether over email, over the phone or in person, is critical to being a good secretary. Secretaries spend most of their workday on the phone with clients, taking notes at meetings and sending important emails. This question will ensure that they are someone who can write and speak in a polished, professional tone. What to look for in an answer:

  • Confidence in oneself and a clear answer
  • Description of their abilities in detail
  • A calm, professional tone

Example:

“Throughout my career, I have developed and refined my communication skills and consider myself fluent in both written and spoken English. I strive to maintain a professional demeanor in my interactions at work, and I always proofread my emails.”

Q:

Tell us about your experience maintaining and filing large amounts of paperwork.

A:

Even in the digital age, your company may still have paper documents that must be properly filed and maintained. A good candidate will have knowledge of various filing systems and possess good time-management skills. The answer to this question will allow you to tell if they can handle the workload at your company. What to look for in an answer:

  • High level of knowledge of filing systems and digital filing methods
  • Good organizational skills
  • Experience handling a large workload in a timely manner

Example:

“I have extensive experience filing paperwork both in a file room and digitally. I am very organized, and using an alpha-numeric filing system comes easily to me. I am used to having a lot of files to put away each day.”

Q:

What experience do you have using a multi-line phone system, and how do you manage calls when it’s busy?

A:

Answering the phone is one of the secretary’s most important duties. Some days, the phone might ring all day long with multiple callers at once. Your secretary needs to know who to prioritize, how to transfer calls, and how to operate the switchboard efficiently while remaining calm. Experience using a multi-line phone system shows that the candidate is qualified for this part of the job. What to look for in an answer:

  • Desired number of years working with this technology
  • Clear method for prioritizing calls
  • Ability to stay calm and professional and not get overwhelmed by multiple callers

Example:

“At my previous job, I was responsible for taking and transferring calls. From telemarketers to the president of the company, I quickly learned who to talk to first and who could wait longer.”

Q:

What is the most rewarding part of being a secretary?

A:

It’s important to know what the candidate likes and values about their position. A person who sees that their work is valuable and takes pride in what they do will be more effective than someone who just sees it as another job. This question will give you insight into how they feel about being a secretary. What to look for in an answer:

  • Genuine enthusiasm about the job
  • Examples of things they like about the position
  • Sincerity in their answer

Example:

“There are many aspects of being a secretary that I enjoy, such as filing paperwork and talking with a variety of characters over the phone. However, the daily, face-to-face interaction is most rewarding for me as it appeals to my extroverted nature.”

Q:

Are you familiar with composing meeting minutes? Can you provide an example from your previous role?

A:

Secretaries have a diverse set of job responsibilities, including taking notes during meetings and composing meeting minute documents to send to participants afterward. This question allows an interviewer to learn more about a secretary's previous experience and their writing skills. It also allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's willingness to learn and adapt to new responsibilities.

The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Ability to write meeting minutes
  • Knowledge of document layout
  • Commitment to error-free writing

This example answer shows one way a great candidate may respond to this question:

Example:

"I am familiar with meeting minutes. In my previous job as an office assistant, I was responsible for taking notes during meetings between the office manager and upper management and department heads and employees. During the meeting, I would write down the agenda, time the meeting was called to order, the names of attendees and the presenters. I would also document each time an attendee made a suggestion and document the number of attendees who agree or disagree with a particular suggestion. After the meeting, I compile my notes into an organized format and make edits before sending it out."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021