How to Answer the Top 10 Company Secretary Interview Questions

Being a secretary is one of the most sought after employment positions in the Western world today. It’s also one of the most demanding jobs to date because this occupation can be likened to a gatekeeper as your responsibilities consist of always answering the phone, greeting visitors, signing for packages, handling schedules and much more.

In other words, it’s the epitome of multi-tasking.

1. 'Why did you apply for this job?'

This question is meant to understand the precise reason as to why you applied for this job as a company secretary. Did you apply because you’re looking for temporary work until you find a job in another field or did you apply because you’re truly dedicated to being a full-time secretary? If the company feels you’re doing it for a specific reason then it can determine if you’re a good fit or not.

2. 'Why are you seeking a new employment opportunity?'

There must have been a reason as to why you left your previous employer. This question gauges that exact answer. You could’ve have been unhappy, the work was too challenging or you had a terrible workplace relationship with your boss and/or colleagues. Honesty is usually the best policy in this answer: explain you didn’t see eye to eye with your boss or you weren’t satisfied with the hours.

3. 'What qualities are important to be a good secretary for the company?'

When hiring managers ask this question, it usually is meant to find out if you know what is needed to perform the job correctly. In relation to a company secretary, noting how it’s important to have excellent communication skills, organizational abilities and a tough work ethic will bring a smile to the face of the human resources manager.

4. 'How would you address someone who has an appointment with another employee?'

Akin to the previous question, the purpose of this question is to see if you have the ability to abide by the standard policies of the company. It also allows the interviewer to see how you speak to people and if you maintain superb customer service skills.

5. 'How would you handle a customer or visitor who was demanding and rude?'

It doesn’t matter what the job is. There will always be someone to give you grief over something out of your control. Hiring managers understand this and they want to find out how you would resolve a conflict with a customer, guest or visitor if there was a scheduling mistake or the executive left early despite having an important meeting. Remember, as a receptionist, you are representing the company.

6. 'What was your most challenging experience as a secretary in your previous employment?'

How would you solve an inquiry from a potential customer? How would you speak with a salesman? What would you do if the system crashed? There are a variety of scenarios that secretaries have to deal with on a daily basis, and a human resources interviewer can listen intently as to how you conduct yourself in a stressful situation.

7. 'What did you like the most and the least about your last secretary position?'

If you didn’t like taking minutes so much, but you enjoyed answering the phone – and this would be the exact same kind of environment in the new place – then the hiring manager can immediately dismiss you. It’s a popular question for companies to ask because then they can figure out if you would be a good fit depending on your likes and dislikes of the workplace environment.

8. 'As a secretary, please highlight your strengths and weaknesses.'

Forget the clichéd responses, such as “my biggest strength is I love my work” and “my biggest weakness is I work too hard.” Be honest and purport that your strength is in organization, while your weakness is speaking with high-level executives because they make you feel nervous. There have been many instances where managers hire a person based on their honesty.

9. 'What would motivate you to go above and beyond your traditional duties?'

Answering this question in one simple manner can certainly allow the head honchos to see the type of person you are. The answer can be as simple as being respected, appreciated and thanked for all of the hard work, dedication and hours you’ve put in. If this is regularly shown then you would obviously go beyond the call of duty. In other words, informing the business that you would like to be treated like a person could very well change the landscape of the enterprise.

It also depicts you as someone who wants a career and not just another paycheque.

10. 'Do you have any further questions regarding this occupation?'

At the end of every interview, it’s important to have a minimum of three questions about the business. By simply replying with “no” it portrays you as someone who is indifferent about the job or is apathetic about gaining employment. It can also give the negative perception that you have an unenthusiastic work ethic or a paucity of problem-solving skills since you’re not doing your research or you don’t have questions for certain elements of the business.

Being a company secretary is hard. Once you’ve done it for at least three months you’re likely to do it for years to come. The hardest part is the interview because you’re competing with several other competent and capable job candidates. Be prepared for these questions and remain calm at all times.


Photo by Evan Bench via Flickr