How to Hire a Great Executive Assistant

How to Hire a Great Executive Assistant

Executive assistants are the unsung heroes behind every successful executive. There are over 304,678 executive assistants currently employed in the US. And that’s in the US alone. 

Can you imagine how many executive and administrative assistants there are globally?

That’s how helpful they can be in businesses.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just stepping into the world of leadership, having the right executive assistant can make all the difference.

Want to find an indispensable partner in navigating the complexities of your role?

We'll share facts and proven strategies to help you identify the qualities of a great executive assistant. 

After all, hiring is more than just ticking off a checklist; it's about finding that perfect match that propels your productivity and enhances your professional journey.

Here’s how to hire a great executive assistant to help your business succeed.

Top Skills Your Executive Assistant Must Have

Do you find yourself drowning in emails, juggling endless meetings, and struggling to manage your busy schedule? These are telltale signs that it's time to hire an executive assistant.

Knowing where to start is often challenging, but fear not! Understanding the skills to prioritize in your potential executive assistant is the first essential step on your hiring journey. 

The executive assistant function has become more of a strategic role. Today’s executives lean on their assistants not just for administrative help but also for:

  • Strategic counsel
  • Technical expertise
  • Critical analysis

With this in mind, there are skills and qualities you should look for. 

Exceptional organizational skills

The right executive assistant can help you be more productive. They should be able to handle multiple tasks and deadlines effectively. They need to be able to manage their workload efficiently and assist you in organizing your schedule and duties. This includes keeping track of meetings and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Good communication skills

Clear and concise communication is crucial for an executive assistant to interact with you, other executives, clients, and stakeholders. This includes drafting emails, memos, and reports and interacting with individuals from different backgrounds and levels of seniority.

Proactive problem-solving abilities

Your executive assistant should be capable of identifying potential issues and taking proactive measures to resolve them. This could involve researching, proposing solutions, and implementing changes to prevent problems from arising.

Great attention to detail

Paying attention to detail is vital for an executive assistant handling sensitive information. They must be meticulous in their work, ensuring that all details are accurate and nothing is overlooked. This includes proofreading documents, double-checking data, and reviewing contracts and agreements.

Strong time management skills

Time is a precious commodity, and your executive assistant is the guardian of that time. They should possess effective time management skills. This means meetings start on time, deadlines are met, and your day flows seamlessly. 

Without time management skills, productivity can suffer, and opportunities may be missed.

Adaptability and flexibility

In a fast-paced work environment, an executive assistant should be adaptable and able to juggle multiple tasks and changing priorities seamlessly. This involves rearranging schedules, reassigning tasks, or finding creative solutions to challenges that arise.

By prioritizing these skills, you can shortlist candidates with the necessary capabilities to excel as an executive assistant.

A Guide to Hiring an Executive Assistant

An effective executive assistant can offer a smoothly running schedule, impeccable organization, and an unwavering support system. But, hiring one that fits your organization is not a walk in the park. 

To help you, here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Create an accurate job description

It's crucial to have a clear and comprehensive job description. This document should outline the role's responsibilities, required skills, qualifications, and reporting structure. A precise job description will set the stage for a successful hiring process.

Step 2: Consider your candidates 

Assess the skills and motivations of your existing staff before seeking external candidates. Pay attention to the potential within your organization. Current employees who understand your company's culture and operations might be ideal candidates for the executive assistant role. 

You can also use your professional network to search for an executive assistant. Seek recommendations and referrals from colleagues, peers, and industry contacts. 

But, if you’re keen on saving, you can also hire a remote executive assistant. According to studies, remote assistants can help you reduce up to 78% on operational costs. And 84.4% of business organizations that have hired remote assistants have experienced positive outcomes.

Step 3: Screen your applicants

Reviewing resumes allows you to shortlist candidates who meet the criteria outlined in the job description. 

But did you know that 72% of people admit they have lied on a resume? Most often, applicants have lied about their education and years of experience. This is why the following steps are more critical.

Step 4: Conduct interviews

The interview stage is a crucial part of the hiring process. Prepare a structured interview process with behavioral and situational questions to assess the candidates' abilities, adaptability, and cultural fit. Ensure that you understand their motivations and working style.

Step 5: Assess skills

Administer practical tests or simulations to evaluate candidates' abilities. This lets you assess their time management, problem-solving, and communication proficiency. You can identify candidates with the necessary skills to excel in the executive assistant role.

Step 6: Check references and evaluate

Reach out to references provided by the candidates to gather insights into their past performance and work ethic.

Checking references is another crucial aspect of the hiring process. You can gather insights into their past performance, work ethic, and suitability for the position. These references can provide valuable information not evident in resumes or interviews.

Step 7: Final selection: onboarding and training

After a thorough evaluation, select the candidate who aligns best with your needs and expectations. Develop a comprehensive onboarding plan to introduce them to your organization, policies, and systems. Ensure they receive the necessary training to excel in their role.

Hiring an executive assistant is a crucial decision for any organization. This individual will play a vital role in supporting you or any top-level executives and ensuring the smooth functioning of the company. 

Want to skip the long process of hiring? Team up with MultiplyMii, and let us handle the rest. We have experience in successfully hiring executive assistants for our partners, helping them save up to 76% on costs.

Critical Questions To Ask When You Hire an Executive Assistant

On average, in-person job interviews last between 45 and 90 minutes. But since 2021, 86% of employers would choose to do a video interview first.

Get to know and assess your candidates through your questions. Their answers can give you a look into their qualifications, experience, and ability to handle the demands of the position.

We’ve compiled a list of questions to consider:

  1. Tell me about your experience as an executive assistant.
  • This open-ended question is your candidate's opportunity to paint a vivid picture of their professional journey. It allows them to talk about their relevant experience, accomplishments, and the roles they've held in the past.

  1. Can you describe a challenging situation you encountered as an executive assistant and how you resolved it?
  • This question assesses their problem-solving skills and ability to handle difficult situations. As an executive assistant, there are going to be challenging situations. Asking this question gives you insights into their ability to think on their feet and handle pressure. 

  1. How do you prioritize tasks when you have multiple responsibilities and tight deadlines?
  • Assessing their prioritization and time management skills is crucial for this role. 

    Time management is a critical skill for an executive assistant. They must juggle multiple tasks and prioritize based on urgency. With this question, you can assess their organizational skills and ability to handle a fast-paced work environment. 

  1. Give an example of a project you managed from start to finish. What was your role, and how did you ensure its success?
  • This question evaluates their project management capabilities and attention to detail.

    Project management skills are valuable for an executive assistant. They often oversee various tasks and projects. This question evaluates their project management capabilities and attention to detail in ensuring its success. Look for evidence of planning, execution, and results

  1. How do you adapt to different working styles and personalities when supporting different executives?
  • This assesses their adaptability and interpersonal skills. 

    Adaptability is a critical trait for executive assistants. They often work with executives who have varying working styles and personalities. This question can show the candidate's interpersonal skills and ability to accommodate different preferences.

  1. What software and productivity tools are you proficient in, and how have you used them to support your work as an executive assistant?
  • In the modern workplace, technical proficiency is essential for an executive assistant. This question assesses their familiarity with software and productivity tools commonly used in the role. 

    Look for a comprehensive list of software they're proficient in, such as Microsoft Office, calendar management tools, and project management software. 

  1. Can you give an example of when you went above and beyond to support an executive or team?
  • An exceptional executive assistant goes above and beyond their regular duties to support their executives or team members. By asking this question, you can evaluate their dedication, willingness to go the extra mile, and ability to anticipate the needs of others. 

  1. How do you handle confidential or sensitive information?
  • It is crucial that the candidate understands the importance of confidentiality and has the discretion to handle sensitive information appropriately. By asking this question, assess their ethical standards and ability to maintain confidentiality in various situations. 

Asking these questions will give you valuable insights into a candidate's problem-solving abilities, work ethic, and compatibility with your organization's culture. Listen carefully to their responses and ask follow-up questions to understand their experiences and capabilities. 

Remember, finding the right executive assistant is crucial for the smooth functioning of your organization. Take the time to evaluate each candidate thoroughly.

Tests and Assessments for Executive Assistants

Results of pre-employment tests and assessments don’t always guarantee that a candidate will excel in the job. In fact, studies show a new hire takes 3 to 8 months to become fully productive at work

Still, tests and assessments are done to gauge how candidates can perform when hired.

Cognitive ability test

Cognitive ability tests evaluate a candidate's problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and overall intellectual aptitude. These assessments provide valuable insights into their capacity to handle the complex tasks and challenges of the role. 

A strong score on this test can indicate a candidate's ability to adapt to dynamic environments and make sound decisions.

Examples of cognitive ability tests are:

  • Numerical reasoning test: This type of test assesses a person's ability to work with numbers and mathematical concepts. 
  • Verbal reasoning test: Verbal reasoning tests evaluate a candidate's ability to comprehend written information, draw conclusions, and identify logical relationships within text passages.
  • Logical reasoning test: Logical reasoning tests assess a candidate's ability to think logically, make deductions, and solve problems based on given information. 

Personality and behavioral assessments

Personality assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the DISC Personality Assessment, offer insights into an applicant's work style, communication preferences, and interpersonal skills. 

Understanding a candidate's personality traits can help determine if their approach aligns with the executive they'll support and the organization's culture.

Written communication test

Strong written communication skills are essential for an Executive Assistant, who often drafts emails, reports, and other documents on behalf of the executive. 

A written communication test evaluates a candidate's ability to concisely and professionally convey information. It can also assess their grammar, spelling, and overall writing proficiency.

Verbal communication test

An executive assistant frequently communicates verbally, whether in phone calls, meetings, or interactions with colleagues and clients. 

A verbal communication test assesses their ability to articulate ideas, listen actively, and communicate effectively. It also examines their poise and professionalism in spoken interactions.

Situational judgment test

Situational judgment tests present candidates with real-life scenarios they might encounter. They must choose the best course of action, demonstrating their problem-solving and decision-making skills. These tests evaluate how well candidates can navigate challenging situations professionally.

Skills assessment tests

Skills tests are tailored to check specific technical proficiencies required for the role. This can be in Microsoft Office, calendar management software, or project management tools. These tests confirm a candidate's competency in using the necessary software and systems to support the executive effectively.

By conducting these tests and assessments, you can gain valuable insights into candidates' abilities and ensure they have the necessary skills to thrive as an executive assistant in your organization.

Onboard a Highly-Skilled Executive Assistant to Your Team

Ready to elevate your business by hiring a top-notch executive assistant for your team? 

At MultiplyMii, we understand the power of exceptional talent. 

We've helped numerous clients find outstanding remote Filipino professionals, including highly skilled executive assistants.

Our carefully curated talent pool boasts individuals with the precise skills and adaptability you seek. 

Don't miss the opportunity to streamline your workload, boost efficiency, and focus on what truly matters! 

It's time to make the smart move. 

Book a discovery call with MultiplyMii today. Your dream team is just a call away!

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