What is a Personal Assistant? Understanding the personal assistant role is the first step to answering the question of ‘Why hire a personal assistant?’. A personal assistant (PA) is employed…
The process of hiring the perfect person for any job is daunting. Using a recruitment company like Tiger makes the process a lot easier, as we have years of experience submitting fantastic candidates to high profile clients. However, even with the best of the best lined up outside the interview room ready to impress, you need to ask the right questions. When an EA is the right hand of your most senior executives, it goes without saying that this process is of the utmost importance when hiring an executive assistant. Here are five questions that you must ask when you’re interviewing your next EA.
1. What skills do you believe are important for being successful in this role?
This question is used to determine if the candidate has the same idea of this role as you do. If the interviewee mentions things such as good communication, the ability to manage a team and adapt to any situation, they will likely have a good understanding of the role. This position goes beyond just scheduling appointments, so you want someone who can anticipate the principal’s thoughts and who won’t be thrown by an unprecedented situation.
2. How do you anticipate the needs of an executive?
This is something that all top EAs should be able to do efficiently. Sure, it’ll take a little while for someone to know your work style and way of thinking, but you want to know the person you’re hiring has the capacity to get to that level. Listen for examples of where they have used their initiative to aid their executive team in the past. You’ll also be able to gauge a little about their working style through this question, so make sure it will work well with you own.
3. How do you prioritise your tasks when you have multiple urgent deadlines?
As the top person of all your secretarial staff, this question is extremely important for an EA because they will have to deal with anything that’s thrown at them. Not only will they have their own day-to-day tasks, but they will be the first person you turn to when you need something taken care of urgently. Listen closely to how they answer, as you want to hear that they can complete tasks under pressure and manage their time effectively.
4. If the CEO gave you confidential information, what would you do if another executive asked you about it directly?
The ability to have discretion within their role cannot be understated for any executive PA. Imagine you’ve just agreed on a merger with another company, but you haven’t made the news public just yet. Your EA is across the situation because they’ve been the one in the office with you, helping to finalise the details. That information is priceless, so you need to be able to trust them implicitly. The response a candidate gives to this question may turn them from potential employee to someone who isn’t suitable for the role. Look for those who will politely but firmly explain that they don’t have the permission to share information to everyone else who asks it of them.
5. How do you deal with an angry or irate person demanding to speak to one of your executives?
You may or may not be aware that your executive assistant will be the one who screens every incoming request to the principal. Depending on their position, an EA may politely decline many requests over the course of one day, and not all of them will go down without a fight. You need a person who can diffuse conflict before it builds into something more. Look for someone who has had experience with a similar situation and ask them to give you a specific example of how they dealt with it.
If you’re looking for an executive assistant or other secretarial staff, Tiger can help with all your temporary and permanent staffing needs. Get in touch with us today.