Executive Assistant Interview Questions and What To Look For

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Choosing to hire an executive assistant is a smart move. An executive assistant (EA) can take a load off your shoulders, handling everything from managing your diary to running your daily errands. Their expert assistance can help boost your daily efficiency, increase your productivity, and reduce your stress levels.

To really benefit from hiring an executive assistant, you must pick the right one. That means finding someone who not only has the skills and experience but will also match your lifestyle and the way you work. Asking the right questions during the interview process will give you the insights you need to make the best decision.

To ensure your hiring success, we’ve created a guide on the best executive assistant interview questions to ask. We also highlight what to look for in their responses, helping to streamline the interview process.

General Questions for EA Interview

General executive assistant interview questions help you understand the candidate’s background, personality, and communication skills. Asking these questions at the start of the interview will help make candidates feel comfortable to share more freely and give you valuable insights from the get-go.

Here are the top five questions we recommend asking all your EA candidates:

Tell me about yourself.

This is the best question to start an interview with as it allows the candidate to explain their professional journey and interests right away. This helps you get a sense of their personality and see if they would be a good fit for your team or in your household.

Their answer should succinctly cover their career choices, proudest achievements, and personal motivations. Their enthusiasm, clarity, and the way they present their story can also give you clues about their communication skills and confidence level. Please note that modern interview best practice does not allow for deeper questioning around an interviewee’s personal life. For more information on this, read our Interview and Selection Guide, which dives into more detail on DEI considerations for interviews.

Why should we hire you as an executive assistant?

This question tests both their understanding of the role and their ability to sell themselves. The candidate should be able to highlight their specific skills, experiences, or personal attributes that make them your ideal choice for the EA position.

In their answers, look for clarity, confidence, and specificity. Candidates should be able to pinpoint exactly what sets them apart, such as particular competencies that match your role requirements.

What is your greatest strength and weakness?

Asking about strengths and weaknesses gives candidates a chance to show how well they can critically evaluate themselves. It can also show how willing they are to open up about the areas that they need to work on.

When candidates talk about their strengths, you want to hear them mention things like being really organized, able to communicate well, flexible, and good at being discrete. They should also share specific stories or examples that concretely demonstrate these strengths.

When discussing weaknesses, the candidate must highlight an area for improvement that is relevant to your role. The candidate should follow up with the steps they have taken or plan to take to address this weakness, showing their commitment to growth.

How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?

Time management and task prioritization are essential skills for an EA. This question allows the candidate to explain how they approach planning, decision-making, and efficiency, showcasing how they could potentially manage the demands of your role.

Look for answers that include specific strategies the candidate uses for managing their time and prioritizing tasks. These could include categorizing tasks by urgency, using tools to track project status, or an example of how they adapt when priorities change.

Why do you want to work here?

Find out what motivated the candidate to apply to your role by asking this question. It’s a great way to measure their genuine interest in the role and how well they might align with your personal and professional principles.

Look for signs that the candidate is not just looking for a job opportunity. This can be shown with great research into your business or personal brand or highlighting how the specific duties in the job description align with their interests or values.

Experience-related interview questions

The experience-related executive assistant interview questions you ask will depend on the type of personal assistant you are hiring. Alongside our recommended questions, include a few specific virtual assistant, corporate EA, or private PA interview questions.

Can you tell me about your previous position?

Learn about the kind of responsibilities the candidate has held by asking this question. It’s a straightforward way to start understanding their professional background and how it aligns with what you’re looking for.

In their answer, you want to hear about the specific tasks they handled and any achievements they’re proud of. Listen for details that show they have the skills and experience relevant to the EA role you’re offering.

What do you think are important skills for an executive assistant?

This question helps you understand how well a candidate knows the executive assistant role and what they believe is crucial to succeed in it. It gives you insight into their priorities and if they align with the skills and qualities you think are essential.

Look for a mix of hard and soft skills in their response, such as organization, communication, or time management. They should also explain why they think the skills they mention are important. For example, if the candidate says that time management is essential, they should follow up by saying how this skill helps keep your day-to-day on track and efficient.

What is the biggest mistake you have made at work?

Asking about a candidate’s biggest mistake at work gives you a window into their ability to handle setbacks and learn from them. It’s another way to test their honesty and self-awareness, which are crucial traits for anyone you’re considering bringing into your team or household.

In their response, you should look for a genuine mistake, followed by how they fixed the situation. It’s a positive sign if they can share what they learned from the experience and how it has influenced their professional approach since then, showing growth.

Can you provide an example of when you went above and beyond your duties as an executive assistant?

Test a candidate’s willingness to take initiative with this question. It helps you see if they are the type to go beyond their role. It will also show what they interpret as exceeding the expectations of their role.

You want to hear a specific story that showcases their proactive attitude and commitment to their job. Look for examples that demonstrate creativity, problem-solving, or exceptional service.

Can you provide an example of a challenging situation you encountered as an executive assistant and how you resolved it?

Challenging situations can shed light on a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, which is a critical skill for an EA. It can also provide further insights into their experience or abilities to maintain a working relationship with their employer.

They should explain a specific challenge, what caused the challenge, and the steps they took to overcome it. Whether it was with their employer or an aspect of their role, they should be able to reflect on what they learnt from the experience.

Business or personal-related interview questions

Wrap up your interview with a few questions about the duties of your EA role. These should questions focus on specific tasks and scenarios an EA might face in the role. You can ask a mixture of professional and personal task questions to test their skill set.

Here are just a few examples of the types of questions you can ask:

Have you ever been responsible for managing travel arrangements?

Imagine arriving at the airport, excited for a family holiday in the Caribbean, only to find your tickets are taking you to the Maldives. If you regularly travel for work or go on frequent vacations, having an EA you can trust to make accurate travel arrangements is essential.

The candidate should outline their experience with booking flights and accommodation, as well as how they handle the paperwork and invoices for these bookings. Check if they talk about planning travel itineraries, showcasing their commitment to streamlining every aspect of your travels.

How do you handle working with confidential information?

From where you live to your financial information, your EA may have access to sensitive details about your personal and professional life. You need to ensure that you can trust that your EA will maintain the privacy and security of this information.

In their response, look for clear examples of how they’ve managed confidential information in the past. They should be able to describe specific measures or protocols they follow to protect privacy and confidentiality. It’s also important they demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of mishandling such information, showing they take this responsibility seriously.

Have you organized an event or function?

This question is recommended if event coordination forms part of the EA job description. From birthdays to team-building events, your EA should be ready to assist you with all aspects of event planning. This question helps you understand the types of events that they have previously planned and whether these match your needs. It can also showcase certain key skills, such as creativity, project management, and multitasking.

If they have previously planned an event, they should explain the type, size, and what went into the event’s success to showcase their experience. Listen to how they handled logistics, vendor relationships, and any challenges that arose.

What household or personal errands have you managed?

This question is especially important if you’re planning to hire a private PA but can also be relevant if your role includes a few personal duties. It’s a great way to find out what tasks the candidate has experience in handling.

Look for examples that demonstrate a broad range of capabilities, from everyday errands to more complex personal projects. This will help you know what you can and cannot get assistance with should you choose this candidate.

Is there any part of this job role that concerns you?

Find out if there are any aspects of the role that the candidate is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. This will allow you to either address their concerns or determine whether they are a deal-breaker, ensuring a good fit for both parties.

The candidate should be honest and specific about their concerns. For example, if you need 24/7 assistance but they have family responsibilities, they should air this with you. It allows you to either come up with a solution or inform them that this is a key aspect of the role.

Remember to ask candidates for their questions

When planning your interview, make sure to allocate enough time at the end for the candidate to ask questions. This will show that you value their input and can make them feel confident in choosing to work for you should you make an offer.

The more important reason to ask candidates for their questions is that it offers a final opportunity to evaluate them. The questions they ask will reveal their priorities, what they value in a workplace, and their level of interest in the role. A candidate asking detailed, thoughtful questions is often one who is genuinely interested in the position and is considering how they can fit and grow within it.

Hire an EA With Tiger Recruitment

Interviews are just one part of the process of how to hire an EA. You first need to source a strong list of candidates to interview. At Tiger Recruitment, we specialize in matching your unique requirements with skilled professionals. We’ll provide you with a list of tested, reference-checked candidates, ensuring that you’ll find the best EA during your interview process.

Ready to find your ideal EA? Contact us today, and let’s start sourcing a list of top candidates for you. For more detailed insights, read our ultimate guide to hiring an EA.

Author Alexandra-Dana Gusita Tiger Recruitment Team

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