What do employers look for in an executive assistant?

What do employers look for in an executive assistant?

Employers typically look for several key qualities and skills when hiring an executive assistant. These qualities are crucial because executive assistants play a vital role in supporting high-level executives and ensuring the smooth functioning of the organization.

Here are some factors employers consider when evaluating executive assistant candidates:

Organizational skills

Executive assistants need to be highly organized and possess exceptional time management abilities.

They are responsible for managing complex calendars, scheduling appointments, coordinating meetings, and handling various administrative tasks.

Employers value candidates who can prioritize tasks effectively and maintain efficient systems.

Communication skills

Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential for executive assistants.

They should be able to convey messages clearly, communicate with people at all levels of the organization, and draft professional correspondence.

If your communication skills are lacking, there are several online communication courses you can enrol in.

Spending a week after work completing such a course will help improve your resume and is something you can mention in your cover letter when applying for Executive Assistant jobs.

Strong interpersonal skills are also important for building relationships and interacting with stakeholders.

Professionalism and discretion

Executive assistants often deal with sensitive information, confidential matters, and high-profile individuals.

Employers seek candidates who exercise professionalism and discretion when handling confidential data, managing executive communications, and maintaining confidentiality.

When you are being interviewed for an Executive Assistant role, and the role requires high levels of discretion, be sure to mention any previous experience you have had that demonstrates these skills. For this particular quality, there are no courses you can take, so it’s best to mention previous experience.

Adaptability and problem-solving abilities

Executive assistants work in dynamic environments where unexpected situations and last-minute changes are common.

Employers value candidates who can adapt quickly to new circumstances, think on their feet, and find practical solutions to problems that arise.

Keep in mind that dynamic environments and unexpected situations are a leading cause of stress for Executive Assistants, so if the job description and interview process heavily emphasize that the role will throw unexpected situations at you, take a moment to think if this is the type of stress you’ll be able to cope with.

Technical proficiency

Proficiency in using relevant office software and technology is crucial for executive assistants.

Familiarity with tools like Microsoft Office suite, calendar management software, email clients, and video conferencing platforms is expected.

Additionally, the ability to quickly learn and adapt to new software and technology is highly valued.

Attention to detail

Executive assistants are responsible for managing various administrative tasks with precision.

Employers look for candidates who pay close attention to detail, ensuring accuracy in documents, scheduling, travel arrangements, and other important aspects of their role.

In a review of job adverts for Executive Assistants, we found that over 60% specifically mentioned attention to detail as a requirement.

Proactivity and initiative

Successful executive assistants anticipate needs, take initiative, and go beyond their assigned tasks to support their executives and the organization.

Employers appreciate candidates who can identify opportunities for improvement, suggest solutions, and take ownership of their responsibilities.

Professional experience

While not always mandatory, prior experience as an executive assistant or in a similar administrative role is often preferred by employers.

Experience in managing executive calendars, arranging travel, handling confidential information, and providing high-level administrative support can give candidates an advantage.


Remember that the specific requirements and preferences may vary between employers and industries.

It’s important to thoroughly read the job description and research the organization to understand their expectations and tailor your application accordingly.

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