How to Get a Job as an Executive Assistant
The application and hiring process may begin with a networking conversation and the submission of an online application. For Leitner's job, the process from online application to hiring took six months. "I had an interview with [a human resources] representative and the person I was replacing, then I had an interview with the CEO I would be working for and then I had a more informal conversation with the HR director and the outgoing executive assistant," Leitner says. Ideal candidates should be able to cultivate relationships, be more extroverted than introverted, have a nurturing personality and be passionate about their career, she says. "It's not an 8-to-5 job – you may have to stay late, have interruptions in the middle of the night and early in the morning. You have to be able to handle that," she says. Appearance, a positive attitude, willingness to learn and integrity are also key qualities for aspiring executive assistants.
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Executive Assistants
"How do you fit in with Google culture?" - Google Administrative Assistant Candidate (New York, NY)
"Tell me about your background. Where you went to school, how you ended up there, and what you studied" - Parametric Technology Administrative Assistant (Needham, MA)
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What is the Job Like?
Executive assistants must be flexible and attuned to how their boss works as well as company culture and policies. "Very often things change overnight or in the morning. You have to be willing to handle confrontation, be a hard worker and be professional while flexing to the individuals you work for," Leitner says. She says her day may start with a list of tasks, which can be delayed or moved to prioritize another task or project midday. "It's very fast-paced. You have to be able to put in extra time to be successful," she says.
Executive assistants benefit from proximity to decision makers, Leitner adds. "You'll recognize the amount of influence you have on decisions. You have the ability to speak up, and you are the CEO's confidant," she says. "You are exposed to confidential information before it's implemented, and you can provide input, interject ideas and provide a different perspective." But you must develop a relationship with your superior before moving to that level, she adds. The job includes some physical drawbacks: Assistants spend much of their time in front of a computer, which can cause eyestrain, back pain and hand motion problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, and the job can be stressful at times.
Last updated by Evan Taylor.