Your business executives have unique needs within the company. With a great responsibility, a packed schedule, and the reputation of the company on the line, they deserve proper support to help them get it all done right.
That support should include an executive assistant. But what makes this position different from other administrative support? And how can you find the right executive assistant? Here's what you need to know.
Why Get an Executive Assistant?
An executive assistant is another payroll expense, so do you really need one? The answer is probably yes, especially if you rely on the services of a shared secretary or assistant.
For one thing, an executive's assistant has to be trusted with delicate tasks and even company secrets. That's not something to delegate to just anyone.
In addition, executives have specific needs that many other managers or departments don't have. They often attend off-site meetings or functions. They represent the company at high-profile meetings. They communicate with a wider variety of people inside and outside the company. They prepare presentations on a regular basis. And they have to assimilate information on a wide variety of subjects.
Because executives are involved in all parts of the company, and they have larger decisions to make and implement, they need specialized support. They need someone with above-average communication skills, someone who can anticipate their needs, and someone who will keep them on time. An executive assistant must be a more all-around helper rather than a data entry wizard.
How Do They Differ From an Admin Assistant?
What if you already have administrative assistants? An executive assistant is a professional position that provides more than just secretarial support for management. How so? Here are a few elements that make them different:
- May oversee other staff members.
- Act as the point person and representative for the executive when he or she is not there.
- Research and prepare large portions of presentations or reports.
- Put together travel plans and ensure that the executive is where they need to be when they need to be there.
- Are comfortable with all sorts of people - clients, vendors, community members, bankers, legal personnel, and government officials.
An executive assistant would be held to a higher standard because of their visible and crucial role in helping management fulfill their duties. And while all executive assistants should have experience doing standard secretarial duties, these higher functions are often more critical because they can't be outsourced.
How Can You Hire the Right Assistant?
So, what should you do to find the right person for this new job?
To begin, identify the specific tasks that you (or your executive) needs to delegate to a trusted aide. What types of research will they have to do? What types of travel plans do you need? Will they handle budget oversight for anyone? Will they be in charge of any personnel? If so, who and why? The more detailed you are about the job, the better you can match the candidates to your needs.
As you interview candidates, look for indications of hard skill sets (such as software or experience making travel arrangements) and soft skills. Soft skills include things like problem-solving capability, ability to take initiative, communication proficiency, and staying cool under a deadline.
Finding a good candidate calls for specific interview questions that are open-ended and provide plenty of opportunity for the person to explain their thought processes. You may want to use real-life examples of challenging situations and ask how they would handle the problem. Ask for past examples of problems they've solved, and converse enough to gauge if their work style will match well with the executive.
The best way to find your new executive assistant - particularly if you haven't hired one before - is to get professional help from an employment service. At AAA McKinstry Personnel Agency & Resume Service, we can help you find the best candidates, prepare for a useful interview, and create a good working relationship after hiring. Call AAA McKinstry today to learn more about our services.