How to hire an executive assistant 

How to hire an executive assistant
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Executive assistants can be considered the “right-hand” of high-level managers and executives.

They support CEOs by managing their correspondence, making travel arrangements, being a point of contact between employees and the executive, maintaining and refining internal company processes, and ensuring the CEO and the company achieve their goals. 

As a hiring manager, your CEO may ask you to find them an executive assistant because they are no longer able to cope with their workload. 

When looking to hire an executive assistant, you want to find someone who is organized and has strong time-management skills, can multitask, is a great communicator, and has leadership qualities. 

TestGorilla offers an Executive Assistant test that covers most of these skills. You can also decide to test each skill individually to gain even more insight into your candidates. 

One thing to note is that an executive assistant is more than just a personal assistant. 

They need to understand the needs of the executive, and how they work and go about their daily life, in order to be truly efficient. That’s why you should consider your executive’s personality traits and find an executive assistant that can adapt and work with them.

In this article, we explore what an executive assistant is and what skills they need to possess to perform their duties. We’ll go over how to use pre-employment screening tests to evaluate the skills of candidates, where to look for executive assistants, and how to hire one.

What is an executive assistant?

An Executive Assistant (EA) is a professional who provides administrative and organizational support to a high-level executive, such as a CEO, a CFO, or an entrepreneur.

The main responsibility of an executive assistant is to ensure that their employer is able to operate efficiently and effectively by managing their schedule, arranging travel, handling correspondence, and performing other tasks as needed. 

Executive assistants often have access to sensitive and confidential information and are expected to maintain a high level of discretion and professionalism. They must be highly organized, detail-oriented, and possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 

In addition, they may be required to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and be available to assist their executive at all times.

Executive assistant’s hard skills

Every executive assistant needs to have several key hard and soft skills that you should be looking for. Some of the hard skills you want your executive assistant to have are:

Executive assistant hard skills

Executive assistance 

When talking about hiring an executive assistant, one should know how to evaluate someone’s executive assistant qualities. 

TestGorilla’s Executive Assistant test will assess someone’s abilities to solve problems, manage their time, and communicate effectively, both verbally and in written form. 

Candidates who perform well on this evaluation can manage dynamic situations easily, save time for their employer, execute their tasks in a strategic way, and manage team members. 

While this test is perfect for your executive assistant hiring process, you want to have a full picture of the types of tests you want to administer. Having more insights into your candidates is essential to finding the right person for the job.

You can find more tests that evaluate the qualities and abilities of an executive assistant below. 

Leadership 

Your executive assistant will need to take charge of specific projects, tasks, and team members that require leadership and people management skills. 

If your EA has strong leadership skills, they can approach tasks with confidence, authority, and effectiveness. Leadership skills also help them to think strategically, make informed decisions, and provide direction to others.

Our Leadership and People Management test will evaluate candidates’ abilities to delegate tasks, plan and support development, and gain acceptance for their ideas.

Candidates who perform well on this test will showcase these abilities, as well as understand how to set goals and achieve them. 

Tech-savvy 

In today’s world, most employees need to be tech-savvy. This often includes knowledge of Microsoft Office’s Word and Excel software.

Your executive assistant should be able to use these platforms to input data, draft documents, read charts and tables, and collaborate with other team members on important reports and presentations. 

Overall, proficiency in Microsoft Office is a fundamental skill for any executive assistant in the modern workplace.

Using our Microsoft Office platform tests, you can evaluate candidates’ proficiency and find people who know the ins and outs of technology. 

Social media management 

Since an executive assistant will take charge of the executive’s correspondence, that should include social media channels. 

They should have knowledge of copywriting, community management, and strategizing what and when to post to showcase their employer in the best light. 

Our Social Media Management test will cover these skills and you can rest assured the person you hire knows how to effectively use social media to your advantage. 

Executive assistant’s soft skills

Some of the soft skills to look for in an executive assistant include:

Executive assistant soft skills

Communication

For an executive assistant, effective communication is essential. 

This involves being able to convey information clearly and concisely, listening actively, and providing feedback when necessary. Strong communication skills also extend to written communication, such as emails, reports, and memos, which is something your EA will be doing a lot of.

The Communication test will evaluate a candidate’s abilities to understand and interpret information, listen carefully, and use professional etiquette when necessary. 

Time management

Managing time effectively is a crucial skill for any executive assistant. 

This includes prioritizing tasks, planning and scheduling meetings, and managing calendars. An executive assistant should also be able to adapt quickly to changes in schedules or priorities.

Our Time Management test will assess candidates who are able to plan, prioritize, and execute projects in a timely fashion. 

Attention to detail 

An executive assistant must pay close attention to details to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. 

This involves checking and double-checking work, proofreading documents, and ensuring that all information is accurate.

The Attention to Visual and Textual Detail tests will aid you to find candidates who are able to match, filter, and scrutinize information, compare images, and identify patterns. 

Candidates that do well on these tests can process visual and textual information with ease and you can rest assured they’ll catch even minor discrepancies, improving your projects along the way. 

Problem solving 

An executive assistant should be able to identify and solve problems effectively. 

This may involve troubleshooting technical issues, managing conflicts between team members, or finding solutions to other challenges that arise.

The Problem Solving test will pinpoint candidates who are able to define problems and analyze situations, finding the best possible solution to most challenges. 

People’s person 

Finally, an executive assistant should have excellent interpersonal skills to build positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. 

This includes being empathetic, diplomatic, and able to work well with people from diverse backgrounds. They should also have strong networking skills to help their boss build relationships and expand their professional network.

Here, you can use the Big 5 (OCEAN) test to find out what type of person your candidate is. 

They could have any of the five overarching personality dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability.

Ideally, your executive assistant candidate will have an open personality and be emotionally stable to perform their tasks well. 

Why test the skills of executive assistants? 

Your executive assistant recruitment process needs to include pre-employment skills testing

Skills testing helps avoid bad hires and eliminates biased hiring since you’re evaluating based on merit and skills, not on personal preferences. 

You will also save time and resources with skills testing. If you hire someone solely based on their resume, you might end up with an unqualified candidate. They may look fine on paper, but once they start the job you could realize they don’t possess the necessary skills.

If you’re forced to dismiss them and need to start your search for an executive assistant again, you’ll waste more time and resources than if you had used skills testing from the start. 

That’s why TestGorilla offers various tests that can evaluate someone’s skills before they even get to the interviewing stage, leaving you to choose from the top talent only. 

As mentioned in the section above, when hiring an executive assistant, you want to test for the following skills:

Executive assistant skills to test

Where to find executive assistants

When it comes to finding executive assistants, you have several options:

  • Online job boards: You can post a job opening on various online job boards such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn, where you can search for and reach out to potential candidates. With LinkedIn becoming the premium business network connections website in the world, make sure you know exactly what to expect when advertising there (also in terms of costs). 

  • Executive search firms: Executive search firms specialize in finding top-level talent and can help you identify and recruit executive assistants. You can check this list on Forbes for America’s best executive recruiting firms

  • Referrals: You can also ask for referrals from your professional network, industry contacts, or employees. This can be a good way to find qualified candidates who have been recommended by people you trust.

  • Freelance websites: There are also several freelance websites such as Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr, where you can search for and hire executive assistants on a freelance or contract basis.

  • Staffing agencies: Staffing agencies, like Adecco, can also help you find executive assistants. They will typically have a pool of pre-screened and qualified candidates that they can recommend to you based on your specific needs.

  • Social media channels: Making a sponsored post or ad on Facebook or Instagram can also be a viable way of finding candidates. However, you’re bound to get a lot of unqualified candidates with this method, so make sure to use the right screening questions

Another thing to think about during your executive assistant hiring process is whether your executive needs a full-time or part-time/freelance EA. 

The main thing to consider is workload. 

Freelance 

If your executive has a temporary increase in their workload and they’re not able to cope, then you might consider a freelance EA. 

The freelancer should know what they’re doing off the bat and they can pick up tasks quickly to free up time for the executive. You can also hire one while searching for a full-time EA and once you find them, the freelancer can train them until they get up to speed. 

Additionally, you can find a virtual freelance executive assistant that can perform tasks remotely. One of the main benefits of having a virtual assistant is that they’ll cost you less overall, but they’ll be limited in the type of tasks they can perform. 

Full-time

If the workload becomes too much and is constantly piling up, then you’ll want to hire a full-time executive assistant. 

The full-time EA will pick up most of the menial tasks from the executive so they can focus on more important tasks.

Whether you choose a full-time or part-time/freelance executive assistant will depend on the needs of your executive. Both options will save them time and resources, so it’s a worthwhile investment. 

Executive assistant job description template

When crafting your executive assistant job description, you want to make it unique for the position or the executive that you’re hiring for.

Don’t copy and paste an old job description that you’ve used, because it’ll be difficult to  find the right people for the job. Tailoring your job description for the position of executive assistant is the first step to finding the right talent. 

Your job description should have the following elements — and we’ve added examples of what to write, which you can change and modify as needed:

  • Job Title: Executive Assistant

  • Job Summary: We’re looking for an executive assistant that will support our [CEO, CFO, etc.] with coordinating their schedule, organizing and preparing documents, arranging travel, supporting board meetings, and serving as the eyes and ears of [CEO, CFO, etc.] in company matters. The person we’re looking for needs to be flexible and adaptable, have a high level of discreteness, and be able to work in a fast-paced environment. 

  • Main responsibilities: 

    • Working directly with the CEO

    • Maintaining the CEO’s calendar and scheduling their meetings

    • Overseeing their correspondence 

    • Coordinate projects

    • Organize events

    • Serve as a liaison between the CEO and other employees

    • Handle financial matters, such as tax returns and expense reports 

    • Support the CEO in any other way that is deemed necessary

  • Experience: Three to five years of experience supporting executives and high-level management.

  • Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree, additional qualifications for a secretary or personal/ executive assistant.

  • Salary: See next section

How much does an executive assistant cost?

The average hourly rate of an executive assistant in the US is $32, but you can expect to pay between $28 and $36 per hour. This makes an average yearly salary of $61,440.

Factors such as location, education, and years of experience will weigh in on how expensive your executive assistant is. Again, you should factor in whether they are freelance or full-time to calculate exactly how much you’ll spend. 

Executive assistant interview questions

After you’ve gone through your pre-employment skills testing, you will need to interview your shortlisted candidates.

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to conduct an interview.

When it comes to your executive assistant recruitment process, the interview is the final and most important step. You want to understand what motivates the individual, why they want the job, and get a feel for the person that’s going to work with your executive day in and day out. 

We’ve compiled a list of questions that you can use during your interview:

  1. What type of work setting brings forth your optimal performance?

  2. What specifically attracts you to this executive assistant position at our company?

  3. Can you give an example of a work conflict and how did you resolve it?

  4. How do you approach learning new software and staying up-to-date with technology?

  5. What is your proudest achievement at your previous job?

  6. What measures have you taken at your current or previous organization to cut costs or save time?

The answers you’re looking for here should show how the candidate performs under stress, solves problems, and approaches learning and development. You’re also looking for their source of motivation to work for you, what they’ve achieved, and how they evaluate themselves. 

While you may be searching for specific answers, don’t forget that you want to understand how this person thinks and acts. They should be someone that your executive can trust and delegate tasks to without any hesitation. You’ll also know if your executive is an outgoing or extroverted person, which should be reflected in the candidate as well. 

Find the best executive assistant with TestGorilla 

Executive assistants are professionals who support the work and daily life of executives and other high-level managers. 

Their main role is to provide assistance when needed and free up precious time for their employer, who can then focus on more important tasks. 

An executive assistant is someone who will not only schedule your meetings but oversee your correspondence and run errands for you. They are the person that will serve as a liaison between your employees and the executive, offer financial management, and prepare documents and papers for important meetings. 

With our Executive Assistant test, you can find someone who is a great communicator and problem solver, and who can organize your daily life in a timely fashion. 

By using our pre-employment skills assessment, you can rest assured the candidate you hire has the necessary skills to support you and your busy schedule in the long run. 

So why wait? 

Create your free plan today or schedule a 30-minute live session with one of our specialists. 

TestGorilla will help you find the best executive assistant out there.

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