Who you hire as an assistant is one of the most important career choices an executive or manager will make during his or her career. Why? Your assistant is in a position that can elevate or deflate your career success and the success of the business. You don’t want to hire someone exactly like you. You want to hire someone who will complement you.
Having served on dozens of interview panels over the years and being a decision maker to hire many assistants, I have thought more deeply about what is most important when hiring an assistant. You can send any qualified applicant to a technical class to learn a software program. You can assign qualified applicants to sit down with an employee to teach them company procedures and protocol. What strengths are the most important: critical thinking skills, fit, people skills, personality, or soft skills?
When interviewing candidates to be your assistant, I would encourage you to allow others to be involved in the interview process besides you. The more eyes on the candidate and the more time you spend getting to know the candidate, the more informed you will be before making your hiring decision. What are the applicant’s interests, hobbies, and dreams? What motivates them? What are their accomplishments? How do they spend their free time? Learn about their commitments outside of work.
Here are 12 attributes for you to consider when hiring your next assistant:
- Anticipation—Hire an assistant who will take the initiative to look ahead. Will he/she care about the success of both business and individuals?
- Thinking—Seek an assistant who can visualize the “big picture” and can think through details so nothing gets missed. Most leaders are visionaries who only think the big picture. You want to partner with an assistant who will support the vision and will work like crazy to manage all the details.
- Passion—Find an assistant that is passionate about his/her career, wants to support your success, and believes in the product, service, or cause you are supporting. Your assistant’s passion is what is going to help keep him/her fueled through long days and difficult challenges.
- Initiative—Look for an assistant who demonstrates initiative and is proactive in creating value and seeking responsibilities. Hiring a passive assistant who sits waiting only to be told what to do will slow down success. Hire an assistant who is willing to speak up, gets involved, asks questions, and share ideas.
- Confidence—Hire an assistant who is confident in his/her skills and abilities and will radiate confidence in supporting you as your work partner.
- Creative—Search for an assistant who can think “outside of the box” and believes in the impossible because sometimes he/she is going to have to make the impossible possible!
- Attitude—Hire an assistant with a “can do” attitude who is optimistic and positive.
- Continual Learning—Seek an assistant who believes in and engages in personal and professional development. He/she has to want to keep up with the changes and advancements in technology.
- Professionalism—Find an assistant who you will feel confident can represent you and be an extension of you, your office, and your company. Specific areas to consider include: writing skills, dress attire, and verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
- Builds Relationships—Look for an assistant who cares about the work and people.
- Values—Employ an assistant who shares similar values, demonstrates integrity, is trustworthy and confidential, and will always do the right thing when someone is or is not looking.
- Work Style and Personality—Take the time to reflect upon your own work style. Do you need an assistant that has availability outside of traditional work hours? Do you need an assistant to travel with you? Hiring an assistant has a great deal to do with “fit.”
There are many qualified executive assistants looking for employment. Do not sell yourself short by just selecting anyone. Take your time to find the right strategic work partner for you. Trust me! When you get this decision right, it makes all the difference in the world!