A good executive assistant can dramatically improve your overall productivity by allowing you to focus more on your specialty area and less on the administrative tasks that can pile up. These key team members are typically the backbone of the office; the wizards who do it all. They manage your calendar, schedule meetings, prepare presentations and reports to name just of few on a long list.
If you’re in need of a great executive administrative assistant, here are a few tips to make sure you attract and hire a top-notch candidate.
Define The Role
Before you even begin advertising the administrative job, make a list of the duties you expect your assistant to complete regularly. These typically include things like data entry, scheduling and meeting coordination, answering phone calls, and email management. But an executive assistant role can vary widely from one company to the next, and may include more in-depth responsibilities like making travel arrangements, event planning, expense management, and so on.
Include specific technology used in the office as well, such as office software, collaboration tools, and communication platforms.
Creating a detailed list of responsibilities specific to your organization will not only help weed out the inexperienced, but also lets the candidate know what to expect from day one.
Fine-Tune The Essential Skills
You need to know which skills and attributes are essential to your organization — and you. Great administrative candidates should possess strong skills in technology, communication, time management, problem-solving, and organizational expertise.
But is it important to you that they also possess interpersonal skills for their daily interaction with colleagues and vendors? Perhaps they won’t have much interaction with others so you really need an executive assistant who can happily work alone to focus on confidential projects.
Keep in mind what skills can and can’t be taught, prioritize the essentials, and be honest.
Keep Culture Fit Top of Mind
When it comes to finding a really great executive assistant, one of our best recruiting tips is to make sure they align with your culture. As a matter of fact, this rule of thumb should be followed for all hires. Always discuss your values and your company culture during the initial interview.
You don’t want to hire someone and find out within days that they don’t thrive in a fast-paced environment, or needs more flexibility than your company can provide. A culture mismatch often leads to an employee leaving or being let go, causing you additional costs and precious time in replacing and retraining another candidate.
Below are some great culture questions to ask during the interview:
- Tell me a little more about yourself; what does your typical weekend consist of?
- What is your most positive personality trait, and how do you infuse that into your work?
- What values are important to you as a person?
- What type of team or work environment do you thrive in?
- What motivates you to excel in your work, and how does this motivation align with our organization’s goals and values?
- What stresses you out at work?
Ask the Right Interview Questions
You need to ask the right questions to help you dig deeper into the candidate’s work process, and all the skills mentioned above: problem-solving, interpersonal communication, organizational, and technical. Keep your questions open-ended and situational, especially as they pertain to your specific organization and industry.
- How much do you know about this company and industry?
- What attracted you to this role?
- Describe a situation where you had to prioritize teamwork and collaboration to achieve a common goal.
- Tell me about a situation where you took initiative to improve a process or work culture in a previous job.
- Your CEO has given you sensitive information about a possible merger with another company. Another executive asks you what you know about these plans. How do you handle it?
- What would you do if two people you support gave you conflicting directions?
The best candidates will have prepared smart questions of their own to ask in return, and will have done their research on your company and industry.
Make Those Reference Calls
Checking references is the most overlooked part of the hiring process for several reasons, but experts say it’s absolutely essential. We recommend researching your state’s law regarding what is and isn’t allowed for reference checks, as it varies from state to state. Then, contact at least two references, preferably from previous bosses and former colleagues. A candidate’s public LinkedIn profile can also shed some light via recommendations and endorsements.
With the right tactics and questions, references can help inform your hiring decision.
Put a Recruiter On The Job
It can be a challenge finding a great executive assistant — especially in today’s competitive job market. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stalled in the hiring process, consider partnering with a recruiter who has access to a large candidate pool of administrative professionals.
A recruiter will help narrow down and evaluate candidate options to ensure the perfect match is made — often quicker than internal recruiting efforts.
Administrative and Clerical Staffing Solutions
If you need help finding the right administrative talent from Chicago and Cleveland to St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver — Stivers can help. Our staffing experts have the experience, technology, and growing network of qualified candidates to keep your organization moving forward. Learn more about our recruiting services today.