How to assess executive assistant skills

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An executive assistant is a significant part of a company’s executive team, handling administrative tasks efficiently, scheduling meetings, and coordinating travel. They also facilitate communications between senior executives and their teams or clients, helping improve the organization’s bottom line.

That’s why it’s important to assess executive assistant skills thoroughly. Most executive assistants are expected to have top-notch time management and organizational abilities, alongside great communication skills and standard computer literacy. 

You may also choose to assess specific software skills, such as email and calendar management in Microsoft Outlook, depending on role responsibilities.

Before conducting executive assistant interviews, we recommend using pre-employment assessments to identify a shortlist of skilled applicants. You can choose the most relevant tests for your role and add custom questions to tailor your assessments.

What is an executive assistant skills assessment?

An executive assistant skills assessment identifies top candidates most suited to an executive assistant role. It focuses on job-specific skills, such as time management, computer literacy, email management, and communication.

Tests within the assessment include a mix of question types, such as multiple-choice, essay, video, and file upload. For instance, candidates are shown detailed scenarios and must respond with the most appropriate solution to the problem. 

They can also showcase practical abilities by uploading videos or written samples according to specific instructions.

Assessment results tell you which candidates have the right mix of analytical, admin, and people skills to support your executive team.

Read on to find out the main skills required for an executive assistant role and how TestGorilla’s test library can support you in evaluating candidates accurately.

Why are executive assistant skills important?

Your company’s executive team has ambitious targets and limited time. Therefore, it makes good business sense to hire an executive assistant that manages routine administrative tasks, like inbox and diary management.

Here are the main reasons why executive assistant skills are valuable to a business.

Company executives hit business targets

Executive assistants understand company targets and have the skills to help the executive team achieve them. Their organizational abilities facilitate the smooth coordination of stakeholder meetings and ensure executives complete their to-do lists.

Furthermore, executive assistants use critical thinking to tackle everyday decisions, such as scheduling and travel logistics. This frees up an executive’s time to deliver on strategic issues.

Diary management is more organized

Executive schedules are often packed and subject to last-minute changes. For instance, they may grab an opportunity to speak with a prospective client, requiring the executive assistant to reschedule an existing meeting. 

Executive assistants are skilled at diary management, from booking appointments with strategic contacts to avoiding double-booking and setting up virtual meetings. Additionally, their attention to detail keeps calendar events well organized. For instance, executive assistants consider differences in time zones when arranging online calls.

Tasks are completed efficiently

Executive assistants use organizational skills to complete tasks efficiently, completing huge workloads without burnout or costly mistakes. This also helps them keep up with the fast pace of senior-level demands.

By prioritizing speed and quality, executive assistants manage multiple work streams under pressure. For example, they can juggle tasks such as booking travel, finalizing presentations, scheduling meetings, and replying to emails.

Meetings and events run smoothly

It’s important for events and meetings to run flawlessly, as they offer opportunities for senior executives to sign new clients, partners, or shareholders. Executive assistants help ensure executives and other attendees have the information they need for a successful interaction.

For example, they brief executives on relevant research, edit and distribute materials such as presentations, take meeting minutes, coordinate logistics, and more.

Problems get solved quickly

Executive assistants are talented problem-solvers. They often make independent decisions quickly in activities such as scheduling meetings and appointments, sending client communications, or making appropriate travel arrangements.

Senior-level team members benefit from executive assistants’ problem-solving skills greatly. By trusting that administrative and logistical tasks are completed correctly, they can focus on strategic aspects like running the business or winning clients.

What skills and traits are important for executive assistants? 

Executive assistants are excellent time managers with experience in managing schedules and using basic computer programs. Proactivity, problem-solving, communication, and organizational abilities are also key traits.

graphic showing what skills executive assistants need

Time management

Executive assistants manage conflicting priorities, busy diaries, and numerous communications daily. Many tasks, such as booking travel arrangements, are time-sensitive. So, assessing time-management skills is key.

Great time managers set goals, prioritize, break down complex activities, and stick to deadlines. In addition, they identify ways to increase productivity, like using planning apps and email automation tools. Where possible, they delegate tasks to other team members to achieve more in the same timeframe.

Thus, executive assistants with time-management skills can focus on the activities that bring the highest business value. Not only that, but they continuously improve their workflow by reflecting critically on past performance.

Schedule management

Managing hectic executive schedules can be challenging. Meetings get organized or canceled last minute. Also, elements such as travel, differing time zones, and personal commitments can create schedule conflicts.

Executive assistants use attention to detail and communication skills to manage diaries. These skills help them to leave enough time between meetings, share agendas with guests, and avoid double-booking.

Email software skills are essential when managing schedules. Executive assistants can easily perform calendar tasks such as creating recurring events, modifying time zones, checking availability, and adding virtual meeting details.

Communication

Executive assistants must be confident communicators in order to build strong relationships. Excellent communication skills enable them to resolve problems with internal teams as well as external stakeholders. In addition, they can share information clearly and coherently, which lets them complete tasks efficiently and avoid misunderstandings.

Listening skills are valuable, too. Understanding non-verbal signals such as tone of voice or body language helps executive assistants improve their responses. 

Problem-solving

Executive assistants solve problems daily, from bringing together busy senior staff to reorganizing travel plans. They often make on-the-spot decisions based on a given goal and available information.

Thus, executive assistants use strong problem-solving abilities, including breaking down issues into parts, identifying priorities and obstacles, and arriving at logical conclusions. Their critical thinking adapts to each problem’s circumstances to prevent costly mistakes further down the line.

Organizational abilities

Executive assistants require organizational abilities to execute a large number of tasks. For instance, they should be able to categorize and prioritize workflows, manage logistics cost-effectively, have attention to detail, and switch between tasks comfortably.

For example, executive assistants filter incoming emails efficiently into categories according to urgency and importance. Similarly, when coordinating travel arrangements, they follow detailed checklists to ensure business trips run smoothly.

Computer literacy

Executive assistants need computer literacy to perform tasks such as booking meetings, communicating by email, and editing documents. Many executive assistants also take on administrative duties like data entry and minute-taking. 

So, easily navigating a PC or Mac, browsing the internet, and managing inboxes and calendars is non-negotiable. Basic working knowledge of Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint is invaluable.

Proactivity

Executive assistants must be proactive to make quick decisions independently – like securing meetings with strategic partners. This requires confidence and a clear understanding of the team’s top goals.

Executive assistants often begin projects with incomplete information. Thus, they’re required to make intelligent assumptions or find the required information through research. It helps to have a can-do mentality and avoid being asked twice for a result.

Skills and traits tests 

TestGorilla has a variety of skills and traits tests that are ideal for hiring executive assistants. Pick and mix up to five tests in each assessment and tailor it further using your own custom questions.

Executive Assistant test

Our Executive Assistant test evaluates the top skills an executive assistant needs to manage everyday challenges effectively. 

More specifically, candidates are tested on their ability to:

  • Communicate verbally and in writing at a high standard

  • Solve problems quickly

  • Manage and prioritize tasks

  • Manage time efficiently

Candidates who score well on the Executive Assistant test can be trusted to build relationships at a senior level and manage executive schedules and communications. They’re also able to work independently, using critical thinking to make the right decisions.

Time Management test

Our Time Management test uses common business scenarios to assess candidates’ ability to plan and execute tasks in a time-efficient way.

The questions test applicants on:

  • Prioritizing tasks based on deadlines and relative importance

  • Planning and executing tasks productively

  • Monitoring and learning from outcomes 

  • Communicating important information

You can expect top scorers to make logical prioritization decisions and execute plans with goal orientation. They collaborate with others to get tasks completed faster and reflect on their work to make continuous improvements.

Computer Literacy (PC) test

Our Computer Literacy (PC) test checks if candidates can comfortably use a Windows-based PC to achieve basic tasks.

Applicants must demonstrate they can:

  • Easily operate a Windows PC

  • Browse the internet safely and effectively

  • Manage an email account

  • Handle files and folders 

  • Select the right app for different tasks

  • Manage disk space

  • Understand menu items and settings options

This test puts applicants in different workplace scenarios to evaluate their decisions and knowledge levels on a PC. A high score indicates that the applicant is comfortable using a PC at the level required for executive assistants.

Email Skills (Microsoft Outlook) test

Our Email skills test for Microsoft Outlook helps you identify applicants with great email etiquette and strong knowledge of Microsoft Outlook features.

You’ll know if candidates can:

  • Use basic MS Outlook features

  • Understand email etiquette

  • Adapt emails according to the situation, outcome, and recipient

  • Manage calendars, meetings, and appointments in MS Outlook

  • Set up virtual meetings

  • Use MS Outlook collaboratively within a team

This is an essential test for executive assistants. Top candidates can streamline email communications for executive teams to support business objectives. Furthermore, their email etiquette and calendar management experience in MS Outlook helps build relationships with stakeholders.

Attention to Detail (Textual) test

Our Attention to Detail (Textual) test helps identify applicants that process information easily and pick up textual details.

The test checks if candidates can:

  • Filter and match information

  • Identify differences between statements

  • Check whether information is consistent

  • Find errors and omissions within statements

Executive assistant candidates who score highly on this test are able to coordinate and contribute to complex processes without many errors. They can spot important details in large amounts of data and use them to draw correct conclusions.

Problem Solving test

Our Problem Solving test helps identify candidates who use analytical abilities to reach logical conclusions.

Find out if applicants are able to:

  • Interpret data to make logical decisions

  • Order and prioritize items according to specific rules

  • Combine numerical with textual analysis

  • Create and adjust schedules easily

This test is ideal for recruiting executive assistants. It uses scheduling and prioritization scenarios in conjunction with verbal and numerical reasoning in a business context. It also pushes candidates to make correct decisions against time pressure, which is key for executive assistants.

Communication test

Our Communication test assesses candidates’ ability to communicate clearly in a work context.

It checks if applicants can:

  • Understand and interpret others’ writing

  • Listen actively and pick up non-verbal cues 

  • Summarize messages effectively

  • Clarify next steps

  • Use professional communication etiquette

Executive assistant candidates with high scores are likely to be good listeners that communicate their ideas confidently. They’re also able to respond appropriately in different scenarios using empathy. 

You can use this test to evaluate communication in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, and Portuguese.

How TestGorilla can help you find the right executive assistant

Executive assistants provide invaluable support to your executive team, freeing up their time to focus on strategic goals. Therefore, it’s important to test the most appropriate skills for the role. 

TestGorilla offers a wide variety of suitable tests, from our ready-made Executive Assistant Skills test to our Communication, Problem Solving, Attention to Detail, and Computer Literacy tests.

Our platform is intuitive and easy to use, helping you create assessments in no time. Book a free 30-minute live demo with a member of our friendly team to learn more.

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