How Do I Choose a Personal Assistant?

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  • Written By: Hillary Flynn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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Adding any employee to a team can be anxiety inducing, but when one needs to choose a personal assistant, even more care is involved. A personal assistant represents an employer. Typically, an assistant will take calls, schedule appointments, and often act as a liaison between employer and client. As the first point of contact, an assistant must project a friendly, professional demeanor and have a good sense of the values and mission the company wishes to project.

To choose a personal assistant, one must first develop a job description with specific tasks. List everything the personal assistant will be responsible for, and make a note of software and programs required to perform the tasks. Rank the duties by order of importance. If the assistant will spend 60% of the day updating web content, then selecting an assistant with a high degree of internet familiarity is a must. All employees can be trained, but it's best if a personal assistant's strengths are directly in line with the bulk of the tasks. Occasional duties can be learned on the job without much time being stolen away for training.

The next list should identify the company work ethic. What's most important? Being on time? Contributing creative ideas to the team? Finishing work in a timely manner? Choose a personal assistant who already exhibits the qualities and attitudes the company appreciates. Prepare probing questions beforehand to explore the candidate's work methods and preferences.


Many employers are tempted to choose a personal assistant of similar background and skill, because they feel comfortable with familiarity. This is a mistake. The idea of a personal assistant is to have someone around who will pick up the slack and contribute to the team. Rather than hiring someone with the same skill set, ask about other areas of expertise. List current weaknesses at the bottom of the interview questions and make a point of inquiring on background in those areas as well.

To choose a personal assistant who can handle the technical tasks required, one should take advantage of free online assessments. One person's "expert" level in a software program may be another's idea of "novice." Don't forget about communication areas. Will the personal assistant be communicating with clients via email or other methods of written correspondence? Get a writing sample. Software, office machines, and standard office procedures can be trained, but it can be difficult to improve writing skills for those who are not naturally comfortable with written communication. Misspellings, typos, and poor grammar are a big turn-off for a client.

So, assess needs and spend some time creating the job description. Determine the must have criteria, then narrow the candidates down and request testing. Trust your instincts. If the candidate list has been properly narrowed down, then the top picks will likely have all the most important qualities. At this point, the choice should be made by selecting the candidate with whom you have the best rapport.


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I am lecturer of State Polytechnic of Malang. My main subject is secretarial duties. I need to update course material to maintain my students competence. I hope to receive any material or suggestion in this subject.

Thank you for your assistant and information. Regards, Diana

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