For many, hiring a good personal assistant is an uphill battle. Sometimes you may go through quite a few before you find ‘the one. It’s also hard to tell if the person you’re hiring is really what you require through an interview alone. They may say all the right things and then show their true colours later, so sometimes this may be a hit and miss. You really have to put time and effort into it if you want to get the right person.
A good place to start is to have a vision for this role. Know exactly what you need and what your expectations are so that this can be communicated clearly. I would also recommend a probationary period of however long or short you wish before taking this person on fully. You can also view this as part of the hiring process. During this process, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
Thought patterns and professional standards
Ideally, the way they think and their professional standards should be aligned or similar enough to yours. If excellence is a priority to you, as it should be, you’d rather not want someone that is mediocre as your assistant. One way to delve into how the person you’re considering thinks is to present realistic scenarios to them and asking them what they would do in that particular scenario. A detailed scenario would probably give you more insight than a vague one.
If you live in a city like Lagos, using traffic as an excuse for being late is a bit stale. Extra time for traffic should be automatically added to your travel time. Ideally, if you have an event to attend your assistant should be there before you if they’re not going with you. Same with the office, they should be at their desk before you get in. It also shows good time management on their part. If they’re always showing up late with a ton of excuses or playing catch up or generally just ‘behind’ all the time, it will also affect your work. The purpose of an assistant is to make life easier for you, not the other way round.
Ability to improvise and be flexible
I would add ‘resourcefulness’ as an excellent skill to have in addition to being able to improvise and be flexible. A lot of times in order for one to make the best of a situation gone wrong, or even come up with other alternatives, they have to be resourceful thinkers. Ideally, this would be you but with all the other things on your plate, it would help if your assistant has these skills as well and can put out fires before you even knew they existed.
Finally, the ability to work well under pressure, good time management, manage different tasks simultaneously and learn quickly are important skills to look out for. Constant communication between you and your assistant is also key. There will always be a learning curve for the assistant but if they’re good, it will be short.