You’ve reached the point where your workload exceeds the number of hours in the day. (Or at least, it seems like it has.)
Hiring an executive assistant sounds like a great solution. But do you know what qualities to look for—and which ones to watch out for?
A thorough executive assistant job description is a good starting point—but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
An executive assistant is a pivotal role. You have to get it right immediately. It’s more than a checklist of skill sets, but involves that perfect connection in working style and personality.
Plus, you have to have massive trust in them. They’re in your email, after all.
Your executive assistant arranges travel and meetings, filters what crosses your desk, and will basically have a hand on nearly every lever that makes your work go forward. They need to know what you need before you do—and have the experience to ask questions you haven’t thought of yet.
How do you write an executive assistant job description that can possibly encompass that?
Whether you’re eyeballing your first executive assistant hire or your tenth, we’re going to share how to go beyond the executive assistant job description to hire the perfect fit candidate from day one.
Do A Leader Self-Assessment
You need to know your strengths and weaknesses—your own personality quirks—in order to find the right executive assistant. Some of this may come out as you write your expectations for the job description. After all, your expectations reveal your personality to some extent.
Hire someone who complements you. They don’t have to be exactly like you, but should work well with you. A great executive assistant fills the gaps where you may have weaknesses.
Remember, you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time working with your executive assistant. Clashing personalities will be a problem.
One way to suss out the best fit is to use unusual interview questions. You’ll probably ask a potential hire if they’re comfortable managing multiple schedules, or working remotely. But you should also ask about their communication style. Have them give you an example of what they did when something went wrong. These kinds of questions give you a picture not just of what they do, but how they do it.
The Perfect Executive Assistant Job Description
Start by creating a summary of what the essential duties, qualifications, and skills will be. This addresses the measurable qualifications necessary. For example, attention to detail is vital to this role (and for your peace of mind).
While there will undoubtedly be many hard skills, don’t forget that soft skills are just as important. Articulate both the interpersonal skills and personality traits that are important to you. For instance, do you want someone with a great sense of humor, supreme patience, service attitude, personal warmth, or friendliness? Soft skills like these are the unsung heroes of great working relationships.
Next, describe the kind of work that they’ll be doing. You might even summarize what a typical day, week, and/or month would be like. This is about being clear on expectations.
At this point, any sincere applicant would know whether or not they have the necessary qualifications and understanding of the technical aspects of the job.
Then, take it further.
Be sure to include your company mission, or an idea of the culture or principles you operate under. You might flesh it out with a description of how the executive assistant will need to work, if this hasn’t been completely addressed elsewhere. This helps provide a bigger picture for applicants and helps you address those less easily measured qualities that make for a great executive assistant (who’s also a culture fit).
Be sure to use language that would be understood by the candidates you’re looking for. Avoid internal jargon or non-standard descriptions. Skip trendy words that are vague or open to redefinition. Your goal is to be clear and concise in what you want
And then…don’t be shocked when unqualified candidates apply.
An executive assistant job is an attractive goal, and some candidates will apply no matter how you describe what you’re looking for. They’ll see your executive assistant job description as an invitation to give the work a try, a first step towards experience.
That’s not necessarily bad. You might find a lesser-qualified applicant who really clicks with your personality. Still, the clearer you write what you want and expect, the less time it’ll take to sort through those who apply.
Key Screening Questions
As noted, even the perfect executive assistant job description is going to bring in applications all across the spectrum, qualified or not.
Want even better than perfect?
At Boldly, we field over 3,000 executive assistant job applications every month! Because we have set such a high bar for skills, experience, and culture fit, we’ve made it intentionally difficult to be selected as an interview candidate.
We start with screening questions based on what we consider must-haves.
- Do they have 7+ years as an executive assistant or in a similar role?
- Will they be willing to work a minimum number of hours?
- Are they flexible with part-time work?
- Do they live in a state we’re hiring in? (For you, this may also involve a decision around whether you are hiring as an employee or contractor — and whether your decision will be compliant).
If an applicant meets those requirements, we provide applicants more information on our company, our job descriptions, and a FAQ page. Our goal is to be sure their expectations align with ours.
The Best Executive Assistant, No Hassle
All this probably seems like a lot of work. Because it is. From start to finish, you’ll be spending significant time and effort to get the perfect executive assistant. However, getting the right person in the role from day one is non-negotiable!
An excellent executive assistant can quite literally change your life. An incredible EA can give you margin to strategize new products and services, work on your business instead of just in it, or even take nights and weekends off.
If you’re looking for top-shelf talent but would like to cut out the hassle of searching altogether, we’ve got good news.
After tens of thousands of interviews, we have already found (and hired) the best candidates. We’ve taken care of the logistics, and have the process in place to find the perfect fit for you.
Start being productive right out of the gate, and skip the rest.
Updated on October 12th, 2023