The top five questions to ask when hiring your next private PA

A private PA on the phone in her home office while at her desk and writing in her notebook.


Here at Tiger Private, we pride ourselves on our close relationships with our clients. As a previous private PA and chief of staff (COS), I spent many years interviewing domestic staff for my principals, and my clients will often ask me for advice on interview questions. This process can prove tricky when hiring for the first time, but it’s especially challenging when recruiting a private PA, as they are one of the most integral members of a private household.

The two keys to a successful hire are to decide on a really clear brief and to ask the candidate questions covering off the areas most important to you. A private or household PA role can encompass a broad range of duties. It’s also a position that links in very closely with you and your family so it’s so important to get it right! Here are five interview questions to help you find your prefect fit.

What duties have you covered as a private PA in your previous roles?

This question allows the candidate to show their previous experience – covering anything from managing a family’s private diary, travel, events and household staff, to looking after household admin or running errands. A private PA can also help with research into schools or holiday destinations and oversee property purchases and renovations. You should listen out for what’s aligned with the duties of the role and then ask for further examples around those specific tasks.

A girl talking on the phone.

Can you give me examples of where you have had to show flexibility, tenacity or patience in your previous experience?

These are three of the key traits every private or domestic PA should possess! In terms of flexibility (or what I like to call ‘plate spinning’!), a candidate should know this isn’t a nine-to-five job, so you want to see their willingness to handle changes in their schedules and work day.  Tenacity is another fundamental skill for this role – meaning no matter how difficult the request you give them, they will try their best to get a result, or will come up with an alternative. Finally, they say patience is a virtue, and it’s also a key one for a private PA!

Why do you like being a private PA?

Most private PAs are people pleasers, which means the role suits them completely! They love to be the right hand to an individual or family, supporting them in whatever they need. This is the trait you’re looking for in the interview. You want someone who talks about the role with enthusiasm and someone who clearly needs to be indispensable and relied upon.

How do you think you could help us?

This question shows the candidate has read the job description and zoned in on your needs, having given some thought before the interview on how they can help. Of course, this only works if you’ve provided detailed information about the role by the time you’re interviewing, which is what I recommend doing. This enables the candidate to clearly understand what you’re looking for before getting to the interview stage. So, if you ask this question and they answer with specific information to your situation, this shows they’ve done their homework.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

You may be a family or individual with plans for growth in the future such as house acquisitions or philanthropy. If that’s the case, you’re looking for a domestic PA who can grow with the role and perhaps eventually become your COS. Alternatively, you may look to retire in the near future and reduce those daily stresses. Listen to what the candidate says about their future plans and see if this aligns with yours!

Tiger Private can help guide you through the process of hiring your next private PA, from providing a private PA job spec template to giving you feedback on your selection process. Get in touch today to learn more.

Author Laura Glendenning Tiger Recruitment Team

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