Regardless of whether you’re recruiting a PA role in professional services, financial services, the creative sector or oil and gas, there are a couple of standard best-practice guidelines that you should abide by when hiring personal assistants or EAs.
As seasoned PA and executive assistant recruiters, we do recognise that hiring a new team member can present a unique opportunity for a team and business. It’s a chance to change up the dynamics of a team, refresh the job responsibilities, or even improve your Emiratisation and diversity targets. Taking the time to plan for your PA recruitment properly is essential. Even if you’re in a rush to hire someone quickly, taking your time will reap rewards later.
PA recruitment, in Dubai or elsewhere, requires additional thought and consideration as the cultural fit will play a critical role in the success of your new permanent hire. A personal assistant or executive administrative assistant works so closely with their principal(s) that the personality fit needs to be spot on.
With this in mind, we’ve put together our top five tips to ensure you hire a personal assistant who lasts the distance!
1. Hire for fit
Hiring with cultural fit in mind is of exceptional importance when recruiting your next EA or PA. That said, when a candidate is in the hot seat of an interview, it can be tricky to determine what their personality type is actually like. Asking questions along the lines of ‘How would your former boss describe your personality?’ and ‘How do you like to relax after work?’ could help you gain better insight into your potential candidate’s personality.
Many employers make the mistake of hiring secretarial staff based uniquely on skillset or experience, which will undoubtedly result in a poor cultural alignment and increased turnover. If you’re unsure, our advice would be to go with your gut feel.
2. Ask competency-based questions
Previous experience is the best predictor of future behaviour. So, when you come to interview your EA or PA, ask them to paint a picture of their career to date. Once you have a clearer understanding of their experience, you’ll be in a good position to frame the competency questions. Good examples include questions like, ‘Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision’, if you want to delve deeper into their capacity for decision-making. ‘Can you elaborate on your time in that role, describing how you went about winning over that reluctant person?’, if you want to better understand their ability to motivate.
Additionally, understanding their reasons for leaving various positions will give you a much clearer idea about what they’re really looking for now.
3. Interview at least three candidates
If you’re working with a good PA recruitment agency, you should receive three-five strong CVs as part of your shortlist. Just as you would when you’re sourcing quotes for a home renovation, ensure you meet with at least three PAs to ensure that you are able to form a strong understanding of the current job market. It will also help to inform your priorities for the role itself, as you may meet with people whose skills and/or personality are more advantageous than you had previously thought!
4. Act fast
While the preparatory process is incredibly important, once you’re in the flow of the process and have strong candidates to meet, test or obtain references for, it’s important to act quickly to ensure you don’t lose your candidate to a competitor. Educating your internal hiring managers on the importance of making themselves available for interviews is critical here. If possible, try and secure their availability at the beginning of the process so that interview slots can be booked ahead of time. Similarly, being proactive and acting quickly will do wonders for your employer brand.
3. Partner with a PA recruitment expert
Engaging a specialist PA recruiter will give you a better overview of the candidate market, compared to if you were just recruiting for yourself. Tiger Recruitment, for example, has access to tens of thousands of candidates on our database, not to mention the hundreds more within our personal networks. We can also give you advice about the candidate market across the Middle East, provide guidance on salaries and even write the job description!
If you’re thinking about hiring a new permanent office support staff member, contact us today.