7 Secretary Interview Questions to Practice Ahead of Time

Brandi Glass
4 min read
Woman looking at binders

Becoming a school secretary means you’ll help ensure children are safe and have access to a good-quality education. It’s a fulfilling role that also boasts long vacation times, so it’s no wonder that it’s a popular career choice.

Standing out from other applicants can be tricky, but strong interview preparation will give you an advantage. So if you’ve been invited to interview, make sure you prepare answers for these common school secretary interview questions.

Common School Secretary Interview Questions to Prepare

1. What makes you a good school secretary?

When answering this question, you don’t want to just show that you’re a good school secretary. You also want to show that you’re a good fit for this particular school. Do your research ahead of the interview so you understand exactly what your interviewer is looking for. And to make your answer more compelling, back up your claims with facts and examples.

You might also be asked: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why are you a good fit for this role? Why are you applying for this job?

2. Why did you leave your last role?

This question is hard because you don’t want to criticize the last place you worked, but you do want to be honest about what you’re looking for in a school. Don’t give in to the temptation of mentioning all the things that frustrated you. Instead, focus your answer on what this school can offer you that your last workplace didn’t.

The ideal answer would touch on things that align with the school’s brand and mission statement, while still being authentic and genuine. In this way, you’ll show that not only is the school right for you, but that you’re the ideal candidate for the school.

Similar questions you could be asked include: Why are you applying for this role? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? What are your career goals?

3. How would your coworkers describe you?

The interviewer wants to know three things with this question: what you’re like as a coworker, how self-aware you are and if you have good interpersonal skills.

To support your answer, explain the things you do at work that your coworkers appreciate. Instead of just saying that your coworkers would call you “well organized,” adding that you’re “always the one they can ask about where to find a form or how to file it.”

You might also be asked: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why are you a good fit for this role? Are you a people person? How do you ensure you have a good relationship with your coworkers?

4. Are you familiar with the software we use?

This might seem like a simple yes-or-no question, but elaborating will help you better impress interviewers. If your answer is “yes,” explain how familiar you are with the software, e.g. “I used it for two years at my last job.” If you’re not familiar with it, you could mention that you’re a quick learner who normally picks up technology quickly.

Similar questions include: Are you good with technology? What filing systems do you normally use? How do you ensure student confidentiality?

5. Tell me about a challenging experience you had in your last role.

Any time you’re asked about a past experience, you should use the STAR model: situation, task, action, result. It will allow you to demonstrate the importance of the situation along with how well you handled it.

For example: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, school policies stated children shouldn’t mingle with students outside of their assigned groups (situation). I had to think of a way they could safely enter and exit the school while limiting contact because normally 1,000 students arrive at roughly the same time (task).

“I created staggered entrance times for different groups based on the routes they would take to their classrooms and then asked parents to make sure children only approached the school gate at the right time. I also gave each group a number and made sure the timetable was on the school gate (action). It was challenging, but everyone rallied together and we managed to significantly reduce mingling (result).”

Variations of this question include: How would you handle a difficult conversation with a teacher? Have you ever had to deal with an angry parent? Have you ever disagreed with a school policy or an employer’s decision?

6. How would you handle a student who’s regularly tardy?

Any time you’re asked a hypothetical question, you can either talk about what you would do or share a relevant past experience using the STAR technique above.

With this particular question, you should demonstrate that you can balance concern for the student’s welfare with the need for rules to be followed, as well as that you know when to escalate a situation or contact the parents. You could also mention how your response might be different depending on the reasons why, e.g. if a child doesn’t have transportation to school versus if they are oversleeping.

You might also be asked: What would you do if you saw students breaking the rules? How would you handle a sick student? What do you do when teachers call in sick?

7. What would you do if a child’s guardian was supposed to collect them from school but didn’t show up or answer the phone?

School secretaries can play a vital role in ensuring children’s welfare, so potential employers will want to know you can handle unexpected situations like this. You should demonstrate that your main priority will be ensuring the child is safe and that you’ll follow school protocols, e.g. only contacting family members who are on the student record.

Other potential safeguarding questions include: What would you do if a child was showing signs of neglect? How would you handle a case of a child being bullied? What do you do to ensure children are safe at school?

Launch Yourself to Career Success with an Impressive Resume

When applying for school secretary jobs, a well-written resume will help you set off on the right foot.

Your resume should be customized to both your background and the school you’re applying to. Plus, it needs to be machine-readable and keyword-optimized so you can ensure it makes it into potential employers’ inboxes.

Writing an impressive resume doesn’t have to be a headache, however. All you need are the right tools. Our resume builder will help you craft your machine-readable resume in just minutes.

First, it will recommend the ideal structure based on your experience and background. Then, it will ask for key details and suggest recruiter-approved phrasing to help you catch an employer’s eye. We also have dozens of resume templates for school secretary positions that you can use for inspiration.

Build your resume now so you can boost your chances of a job offer.