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What To Look For When Hiring an Assistant


If you’re in the position to hire an assistant there are a lot of things to take into account. And honestly, if you need an assistant, figuring out exactly where and how to find an assistant can be a pain in and of itself. However, there are some specific things to look out for when conducting a search for your next personal assistant that will make the entire process a lot easier from start to finish. 

Going into the search for an assistant with an idea of what you’re looking for will help you more quickly identify candidates that suit you, and candidates that don’t match your assistant opening. It’s important to find someone that isn’t only competent, but a person that you’re able to get along with on a personal level as well, since you’ll be working quite closely. Sometimes assistants even evolve into proteges so finding someone you connect with can be very beneficial in the long run. 

“But it’s true, you might have to kiss a few frogs to find the right assistant. That’s why it helps to start with hiring for the smaller, simpler tasks (like the house cleaner or the editor) and then flex your hiring muscles.”

Lief Kristjansen, Finance Blogger, Fire Escape –

Strong Organizational Skills

No matter why you’re hiring an assistant, strong organizational skills are an absolute must have. Every assistant needs to be on the brink of becoming an organizational wizard. This will be most helpful in schedule and calendar management, but will come in handy in other areas of your work as well. 

Spreadsheet creations, keeping you on top of deadlines and important meetings, and even the ability to book appropriate travel accommodations are all important skills for an assistant to bring to the table. 

Keeping calendars and making travel arrangements aren’t the only ways in which an assistant’s organizational skills will be used though. Many organizational leaders and managers make use of assistants in order to keep project notes organized. This could include transcribing handwritten notes to a virtual medium, or could take any variety of other forms. All-in-all, a top-notch assistant will come to the table with top-tier organizational skills. 

“I say this with love, respect, and a touch of humor, but my assistant is my calendar some weeks. I have so many meetings and projects to keep track of that my head would be spinning without my assistant. Honestly, one of the best hires I’ve ever made. This company wouldn’t be anything that it is without the help of my assistant.”

Lina Miranda, VP of Marketing, AdQuick

A Knack for Multitasking 

Multitasking is another very important skill for an assistant to have. Being able to split their focus between a variety of activities and organizational goals will help them stay on top of all the different tasks for which you’ve hired them. 

It isn’t every candidate that is able to take a phone-call from a client while simultaneously adjusting your calendar and booking a ticket for your upcoming conference all at once. Multitasking is a good skill for both entrepreneurs and assistants to develop alike. 

An ability to quickly refocus from one task to another is a similar skill to multi-tasking, and is just as important for assistants to learn. 

“My day-to-day changes by the hour, and my assistant is always ready to take on whatever pivots I have to throw their way. Being able to rely on someone else is just so nice. I actually have time to think nowadays.”

Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Fighting For You – 

Good Gate-Keeping

A good assistant is synonymous with a good gate-keeper. Every business manager, organizational leader, and entrepreneur knows just how much time can be wasted on bad leads, telemarketers, and other B2B sales people. A good assistant is aware that time means money, and will have an innate ability to weed out time-wasters. 

In the corporate world, this is called gate-keeping. An assistant should be precise when it comes to identifying valid leads that are worth hearing out and presenting to their boss, in order to save everyone’s time. 

“Before I hired my assistant I can’t tell you how many wonky phone-calls I’d waste time on during the day. Even if I just answered and hung-up immediately, that’s still 30 seconds to a minute I just wasted. Now though, all my calls add value to my day, and I only have my assistant to thank for that.”

Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer,

Willing and Eager to Learn

Many people are simply unwilling to learn a new trade, or a new industry. When it comes to hiring an assistant though, a willingness to learn is extremely valuable. Being eager to learn the ins and outs of the industry is even better. This is specifically the case in assistant-to-protege evolutions. 

Either way though, an assistant willing to gain a deep understanding of the industry will be more valuable to you than one without any domain knowledge. 

“It’s always really cool to see an assistant move up through the ranks. I mean they get direct exposure and access to someone nearly at the top, so if they’re attentive, engaged, and willing to learn, they can skip over a lot of the other steps that someone coming in elsewhere has to go through.”

Brianna Bitton, Co-Founder, O Positiv

Powerful Personal Referrals

This is a good place to look regardless of the hire that you’re looking to make. Personal referrals can be very telling when it comes to a person’s work habits, personality, and other quirks. While it’s unlikely that a candidate would provide unpleasant referrals, a first-hand account of what it’s like to work with someone is always good to have. 

“I recently brought on an executive assistant for myself and our COO, and the main trait that was most important to us in this candidate was authenticity. Obviously, other factors are important—such as intelligence, organizational skills, excellent communication and writing—but to our smaller family-oriented business, finding someone you feel you can trust is most important.”

Kristy Knichel, President, Knichel Logistics –

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