To be a successful office manager, you don’t need to have deep knowledge of any particular skills. Instead, you need to have a broad knowledge of many different skills.
Since the job of an office manager is so broad, it can be overwhelming to prepare for every interview question you might face. Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you and put together 10 questions you’ll likely be asked in an interview for the role of office manager.
Table of Contents:
- What is your understanding of the office manager role?
- How do you keep yourself organized when dealing with tasks and requests from multiple sources?
- What do you think are the key personal strengths of an office manager?
- What office management software are you familiar with?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to handle a difficult client.
- What office manager duties do you enjoy most and least?
- How do you manage confidential information?
- Do you work well in a team environment?
- Have you applied for any other job opportunities?
- What sets you apart from other office managers that we’re interviewing for this position?
This is a basic question designed to test your understanding of the role and the skills needed to be successful in it. A lot of the content for your answer can be pulled from the job ad to reflect the skills that the company is looking for:
“An office manager is responsible for ensuring that the office runs smoothly. This could include things like supporting and monitoring staff performance, composing documents, invoicing, basic accounting, communicating with clients, managing office supplies, and providing executive support.”
An office manager needs great organizational skills to keep yourself and others on track. You should give examples of how you keep organized to ensure deadlines are always met.
Your answer might sound something like this:
“My trick to staying organized is to keep a log of every incoming request. There are some great software tools that make it much easier to juggle lots of tasks and requests. I use my calendar and set alarms in advance of deadlines to make sure nothing is ever forgotten.”
Your answer to this question should focus on the soft skills that a great office manager possesses. There might be clues in the job description, but if you think about what an office manager is responsible for, you can build your answer from there:
“An office manager should be very personable, organized, and have great communication skills. The ability to identify and proactively solve problems is also important. Demonstrating a positive, can-do attitude, even when things get busy is key.”
Office managers should be very experienced with Microsoft Office. It’s great to mention your level of proficiency with each program and also reference any other related software skills that you have:
“I have experience using most of the Microsoft Office Suite. I’m an advanced user of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and have intermediate skills in Access and Visio. I also have experience using QuickBooks and SharePoint.”
You won’t be able to please everyone, and your interviewer is looking for confirmation that you’ll be able to handle yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Your answer should provide a real-life example of a conflict that you successfully resolved. Learn how to use the STAR method to answer difficult interview questions.
Help them visualize your calm under pressure with a story:
“In my last position, a client came into the office and said he had an appointment with one of the managers. I politely asked him if he had the right date and time as his appointment wasn’t on the calendar. He became very frustrated, and I was worried it would impact our business with him. I calmly asked him to have a seat, and I went to see if the manager was available. Fortunately, the manager was available, so we were able to see him right away, and the client’s attitude improved.”
To answer this question, you should focus on the positive. What you enjoy the least should not be a core job function and should be an area where you can influence or improve.
Here’s an example:
“I really enjoy working in a busy office and solving problems on the fly. I enjoy the challenge of meeting tight deadlines and working in a team environment. I find it stressful when things are disorganized, and if I see someone who I can help be more organized, I’ll step in and offer my assistance.”
Office managers have access to private information like executive schedules, client contracts, and employee files. Your answer should reassure your interviewer that you appreciate the sensitivity of confidential information and you can confidently keep information private when pressed for it:
“Confidential information is always locked up or password protected. Clearing my desk of all paperwork, particularly confidential files, is a priority anytime I leave my desk. I would not give out personal or private information to anyone unless the appropriate individual has authorized it in advance. If the person requesting the information were insistent, I would try to verify that they’re authorized to receive it, but without that confirmation, I would not give it out.”
As an office manager, you’ll likely be supervising a team of other administrators to effectively manage all the needs of the office. Provide an example of how you were able to delegate and focus as a part of a team.
“Yes, I enjoy working as part of a team. Having other people to bounce ideas off can help with problem-solving, and it’s great to have support during busy periods. My approach to managing the other administrators would be to delegate tasks based on everyone’s strengths and interests. I find that keeps the team happy and engaged in their work.”
Your interviewer likely expects that you’ve applied to other jobs. The key to answering this question is to be honest, but make the interviewer feel like their company is your number one choice:
“Yes, I’m actively pursuing a few different opportunities, but working for your company is my first choice. I have heard great things about the company from a friend of a friend (or by researching online), and it sounds like you’ve built a great team here and that the organization has a great company culture.”
Be sure to highlight anything that you’re exceptional at to distinguish yourself from the other candidates. If you haven’t had the chance to tell them about your technical expertise or amazing people skills, now’s the time.
Sell yourself with an answer along these lines:
“I have great people skills and can quickly build rapport with almost anyone. I would be able to fit into your office from day one and quickly build the trust of employees. I love keeping an office organized, and there is no job too big or too small for me to tackle.”
By preparing your answers to these 10 interview questions in advance, you’ll be ready to answer with confidence and impress your interviewer. An office manager should always project professionalism, so don’t forget to press your clothes and polish your shoes before your big interview!