How to Hire an Executive Assistant: The Wrong Way - Priority VA

How to Hire an Executive Assistant: The Wrong Way

If you operate your business without an Executive Assistant, you most likely feel like YOU are the assistant.

Your day should be spent moving the needle in your business. Instead it is cluttered with managing your calendar, responding to customer service inquiries, scheduling appointments, and posting on social media. 

This is work you can do, but it is not the best use of your time. Even if you are good at these tasks, if they are not responsibilities that only you can do, they are better off being delegated

Hiring an EA is a decision most business owners wish they made sooner. When you hire an EA, they serve as a trusted business partner to protect your time, energy and focus. They also enable you to delegate with confidence, so you can be more productive in your genius work.

That being said, the decision to hire an EA should not be made hastily. There is a right way and a wrong way to hire an EA. 

This is the wrong way to hire an EA and what to do instead. 

1. Hiring without knowing yourself

Every business owner has a unique leadership style that affects the way they manage and engage with their team. For many owners, an EA is their first hire. They don’t always know their leadership style until they actually have an employee. 

The problem with this approach is it implies you will “figure it out as you go.” A better way is to do all you can to learn about yourself as a leader before you hire an EA, so you can hire the right person to complement your strengths and weaknesses.

An EA is a business partner who works with you. It is a deeply personal relationship that thrives the better you know yourself. For example, if you are someone who is vulnerable to shiny object syndrome, you may want to hire an EA who isn’t afraid to push back and keep you on track with your priority projects.

Tools like Enneagram and StrengthsFinders shed light on who you are and who you need around you to do great work. 

Remember, even as you know yourself, a best practice with hiring an EA is to treat them the way they need to be treated. If you know you are someone who doesn’t need verbal affirmations to feel like you are doing a good job, but your EA does, you need to encourage them in the way THEY need to maintain the relationship.

2. Hiring an EA as a task rabbit

Your task list may be a mile long with work you don’t want on your plate. But the solution is not to simply hand-off your miscellaneous tasks to your new EA.

This might seem counterintuitive. Aren’t EAs supposed to do the tasks you don’t want or don’t have time to do?

Yes…but the bigger goal is for them to own outcomes entirely. If you delegate a task, you might say, “post this status on Facebook.” If you delegate an outcome, you are saying, “I want you to own all social media engagement and promotion.” 

When you delegate one task at a time, your EA always needs to come back to you for the next “to do.” It keeps them dependent on your direction and keeps you in the weeds. When you work to delegate an outcome, it frees you entirely from that responsibility. 

Your EA won’t need to come back to you to know what to do next. They will own their role and only come to you with questions or concerns. 

3. Hiring based on availability, interest and affordability

There are many avenues to hire an EA. Many virtual assistants, overseas and domestic, advertise themselves as EAs on job sites and compete competitively on price. 

However, hiring a candidate strictly based on their price, interest in the position, and availability to fulfill the role is an error to avoid. 

It is far better to hire for long-term collaborative fit. This is achieved by hiring a candidate who expresses passion for the role, excitement for the purpose they will fulfill within your company, and proficiency in the required tasks. 

Hiring for passion, purpose and proficiency requires that you have a long-term vision for the role and how a candidate will help you actualize your company’s goals. 

It also requires a more robust vetting process. When screening candidates, use scenario-based interview questions, test their character, and ask questions that gauge their alignment with your organization’s vision and values.

It is far better to hire a candidate who aligns with your company culture and has a passion for the role, than someone who is the best due to skill only. Remember, skills can be taught…but you cannot teach character.

Avoiding these common hiring mistakes will help you find the long-term, strategic partner you need to scale your business. 


If you’re interested in learning about what an Executive Assistant can do for your business, schedule a strategy call with us.

Our virtual team experts will help you determine how your business can benefit from our Priority Executive Assistants.

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