7 Key Skills and Attributes to Look for When Hiring an Executive Assistant

7 Key Skills and Attributes to Look for When Hiring an Executive Assistant

Executive assistants do so much more than just help the CEO or other executive managers in a company to perform at their level best. From scheduling meetings to sending out memos, managing correspondences, reviewing reports, and supervising administrative assistants, an executive assistant handles a myriad of tasks that are critical to the company’s growth and overall success daily.

In most organizations, executive assistants work as the right-hand person to the main decision-makers, meaning that they often have a (sometimes indirect) role to play in making critical decisions. With this in mind, companies must strive to hire the right candidate when recruiting an executive assistant.

And whether you’re in HR, run a nonprofit organization, or own a small to medium size business looking for an EA, it pays to vet a candidate properly to ensure they have what it takes before hiring them for this highly demanding position.

Here are some key skills and attributes to look for when hiring an executive assistant.

1. Impeccable Communication Skills 

As pointed out earlier, EAs manage a range of administrative tasks, part of which include accepting calls, setting meeting schedules, supervising other staff, and circulating memos among others. Executive assistants are also responsible for maintaining and improving communications within a company.

They are often required to understand the employers’ culture and goals, and to find the best ways to get their message across to all those who need to hear it.

Hiring an executive assistant with effective communication skills will not only communicate effectively with you as an executive, but they will also do the same with other executives, staff, and even clients. They are also more likely to come out as good customer service agents, which will be a big plus for your business.

2. Professionalism 

An executive assistant’s daily work routine requires a high level of professionalism. While communicating and interacting with different staff and members of your company, they’ll basically be representing you, another executive, or the company. 

They’ll need to always do so in the most professional manner possible to avoid issues that could otherwise come back to haunt the company. 

3. Multitasking Ability

More often than not, executive assistants work in a fast-paced environment, which might demand the ability to juggle more than one ball at a time. On a typical day, there might be multiple meetings to schedule, tons of calls to receive, and several urgent matters to address.

Having the ability to complete editing that urgent report the CEO is waiting for while still taking in calls from clients or junior staff can be a huge plus to the organization. 

4. Time Management

Regardless of your current position, the ability to allocate time to all that you have to do in a day is an invaluable skill to have as an EA. One of the most important tasks an executive assistant needs to master is effectively managing their time. If not all, most roles and responsibilities of an executive assistant call for good time management skills. 

5. Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are another crucial attribute to look for in a potential candidate for the executive assistant position. Considering the array of tasks and amount of information these professionals deal with each day, it’s easy to miss deadlines, fall behind schedules, or fail to keep track of details crucial to the daily operations and growth of the company if they are not organized enough.

Thankfully, it’s not so hard to spot an organized job candidate for this position in the recruitment process, especially during interviews. They are often smartly dressed, calmer, and more efficient.

6. Leadership Skills

An executive assistant’s job usually involves working with different people in the organization, mostly on behalf of their boss or other executives in the company. This means that when you’re not around, an EA with leadership skills can take charge and get things going without hiccups.

They can be able to lead and motivate others at work, but it’s important that they also have the skills to work well with other people on a personal level.

7. Problem-Solving Skills – Which Can Be Hard to Recruit For 

A good executive assistant should possess skills that make their boss’s life easier. This includes quick thinking and the ability to solve problems as they arise, especially when the boss isn’t able or available to handle them at the moment.

However, problem-solving skills are often highly specific and context-dependent, which means that they can be difficult to generalize or identify in potential candidates.

Moreover, EAs require a high degree of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which can be difficult to assess using the traditional interview setting. This is why most modern companies consider using a recruiter for executive assistants when hiring.

These agencies are highly experienced in their vetting approaches and can assess just about any desired attribute from a candidate.

Finally, you can do better with an executive assistant who is tech-savvy, a team player, and eager to learn/grow. With these pointers in consideration, there’s a huge chance you’ll get just the right person, to best serve your company as an executive assistant.