One of my long-time leaders has a reputation for screening potential assistants harder than anyone else. This may seem a little unusual, but I like it. And the truth is an assistant is one of the most important hires you’ll make as a leader or small business owner. A great one allows you to focus on the big picture, while they take care of the details. A bad one will leave you feeling like you’re working a separate, full-time job just to be able to function as a capable leader.
With a great assistant, life becomes easier, and you become more productive. Here are some ideas to consider in your search for a quality assistant:
Make a List
Start by creating a comprehensive list of everything you need in an assistant, including important things they might say during the interview, their skills, how they communicate. Also, include everything you don’t want them to be.
Then, when the perfect assistant walks into your office and begins talking, you’ll know. You’ll start mentally—or literally on a piece of paper—checking boxes. Bells will go off in your head, and you’ll starting thinking, This is the one. This is the exact person I wrote down.
Wait for The Right One
As with all hires, you need to take your time, be patient and wait for the absolute perfect fit. You’re not looking for someone who sees the opportunity as a stepping stone, you’re trying to find someone you see yourself working with comfortably for many years.
Find out what they’d like to be doing with your organization two or three years from now. If they start talking about sales or marketing, you know they don’t really want to be an assistant.
Passion for the Role
Simply put, does the person’s eyes light up when they’re talking about the job? Look for passion about the position and its responsibilities. Sometimes, they’ll get so excited they’ll start throwing around ideas—and telling you things they can do—during the interview.
Pay Attention to the Answers
Always ask the candidate if they are organized. It may seem like a no-brainer, but every assistant needs that trait. Nearly everyone thinks they’re orderly, so it’s not really about the answer—it’s about how they say it and whether you believe it.
People who are truly organized often laugh a bit at this question. Lots of times it’s because they’ve heard jokes about it all their lives. They might even give funny examples of how they drive their spouse or relatives crazy with their need for order. If you listen close enough, you might hear things that tell you organizing gives them energy and a purpose—and they love it.
That’s what you’re looking for!
Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including EntreLeadership. The Ramsey Show is heard by 18 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.