How to find the right Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant for your organisation

Being a specialist Recruitment Agency, we deal with Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants on a daily basis. Based on our experience here are some key factors that you should be considering when it comes to selecting the right Personal Assistant/Executive Assistant for you:

Is the candidate a personality fit for you – and the right culture fit for the business

Yes – it is extremely important to ensure that you find somebody who makes you feel comfortable and at ease, a Personal Assistant/ Executive Assistant that you can trust and also enjoy working alongside. But it is just as important that you consider their fit in to the culture of your business. A good PA / EA is your eyes and ears to the organisation, you want them to be approachable and trusted by your team. In many instances it can beneficial if your PA/ EA is one of the drivers of your culture, allowing you to have some ‘detached’ influence on your team.

Speaking of personalities, have you been honest and open about yours?

If you are truly looking for the most positive of outcomes, finding the ideal person that will commit to you long term, one of the best pieces of advice that we can give you is to be as honest and up front about your own personality as possible. Talk about your weaknesses and the most challenging parts about your own personality, how you handle yourself in stressful situations and what sort of support you need at these times. We are all at our best in an interview process, but those who are willing to be self-aware and share how they can be in more demanding times are more likely to find somebody who feels comfortable taking on that challenge, being aware of what they will contend with in their role. Wouldn’t you?

What are the long term career goals of the person?

Understanding the career objectives of your future PA / EA versus what your role and organisation has to offer is vital! Do you want somebody who is keen to stretch their capabilities and grow in their role as there will be future opportunities for them to grow in to? Or do you need somebody who will be happy to sit comfortably in a stable position that isn’t overly busy at time and won’t change much? Having the right behavioural style questions assessing motivation is important!

Make sure that an accurate position description is prepared for your potential employee to review

A PA / EA role is not a PA / EA role! Each one is different with its own appealing factors. One issue that we often see arise is that interviewees and interviewers get caught up in the excitement of the ‘culture fit’ as that is often the hardest thing to find and get right for both parties. From an employer’s point of view this is an essential factor when hiring, we often encourage that ‘attributes and habits’ cannot be taught, but skills and experience can. However, when an accurate account of the tasks and responsibilities are not outlined to a potential new employee, how can you be sure that they are not only capable, but willing to do them? Will they make you a cup of tea, collect your dry cleaning, do the shredding and run your personal errands? Is there enough challenge and scope in the role to satisfy their career aspirations?

Take the time to have a coffee with your potentials!

Conducted your first round interviews and confused more than ever? If you are trying to decide between a couple of candidates, or if you can’t quite put your finger on why you are unsure about your front runner, we always suggest taking them out for a coffee. Sitting in a casual, relaxed environment people are more willing to open up and show you their true selves, giving you more opportunity to learn all about them and suitability to your role. It also gives an opportunity to connect on a personal level, which is always beneficial when you are trying to ‘sell’ yourself and your role to a standout person you are keen to secure.

Get a second opinion – from a trusted advisor internally or from us!

Having a third party sit in on your interview can be highly beneficial for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allows a different perspective and encourages a line of questions that you may not have considered. Secondly, a trusted advisor that you feel comfortable accepting feedback from may be able to give you some feedback on how you handled the process or give you advice on the selection process considering your personality and previous experiences with staff members. And finally – why not allow us to join the process. We are more than happy to sit in on the process and either help guide the conversation or provide advice or recommendations on an outcome.

MJD Recruitment is a leading recruitment agency based in Sydney and is trusted by many highly regarded and prestigious organisations to provide exceptional Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Office Managers and other Office Support professionals, throughout Australia and overseas.

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