23 Personal Assistant Interview Questions to Ask in 2024

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A personal assistant working on her phone and laptop.

Wondering what personal assistant interview questions you should be asking when hiring?

Bad hires are never fun and the aftermath can be messier than before. We want to help you avoid that as much as possible. We hope these questions can serve as a guide for vetting your applicants. 

Find out their capabilities. Discover what they value, and see which one best fits your needs, team, and goals. 

Understanding the Role of a Personal Assistant

A personal assistant (PA) is someone that takes care of various administrative tasks for an individual. PAs are sometimes referred to as secretaries. These individuals help busy people manage their affairs and help maintain a work-life balance. Responsibilities listed in a personal assistant job description can include administrative duties and event planning, among others. Mainly, however, they take care of schedule management and communications management. 

General Interview Questions

1. Why do you want to be a personal assistant?

One important part of the interview process you shouldn’t forget about is rapport-building. This question is one way to get to know the person behind the position. This can give you a look into their passion, personal and work values, motives, and goals. 

2. Describe your previous experience in administrative support.

This question relates to work experience, previous jobs, and positions. When asking this question, make sure the interviewer has the candidate’s resume and cover letter with them. This is not only for cross-checking. This serves to also see if they will include any additional information. 

3. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a personal assistant?

Most people know how to talk about their strengths. Whatever the candidate says, they should be able to relate it to the position. 

When you ask the weakness question, don’t just pay attention to the weakness itself. Hone in on if and how they address it. Everyone has areas in need of improvement. The better hire will always be actively trying to get better. 

4. How do you handle stress and pressure?

When you ask this question, clarify the type of stressor. Find out whether you’re talking about the work itself or stress brought on by co-workers. This question gives you insight into their attitude and behavior when faced with these situations. 

If workload-related, take note of any strategies they implement. You want someone who works to better manage multiple tasks and large tasks. If it is stress related to other team members or managers, note how they manage interpersonal conflicts. 

Skills and Abilities

A laptop on a desk with other virtual assistant accessories.

5. What organizational strategies do you use to stay on top of tasks?

Take note of any work techniques they use, software and tools, and time management strategies. Automation is always valuable when you have multiple tasks to juggle. A PA who knows how to use tech to their advantage is likely very wise and efficient with their time.

6. How do you prioritize tasks when resources are limited?

This is where you can see if they can distinguish and categorize tasks based on urgency and importance. This also tests their own resourcefulness, problem-solving and attitude towards these situations. 

This question can also lead to a scenario-based question or you can bake the scenario into the question itself. 

7. Describe your proficiency with office software like MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Anyone applying for a PA position should be familiar with these tools. We do recommend including that in the job description and qualifications first before your list of personal assistant interview questions. We also recommend asking for samples of presentations they have prepared in the past. 

Scenario-Based Questions

8. Provide an example of a successful event you have planned.

There are many elements that go into planning a successful event. Depending on the event, one needs to think about budget, venue, travel, accommodations, food, and entertainment. One also needs to ensure the right people and places are available on the right dates and follow up with those attending and those in charge. Another thing to note is their ability to delegate tasks to the right people and ensure event success. 

9. How do you anticipate the needs of an executive before they arise?

This question hones in on their observation skills, initiative and ability to think ahead. Not only is it important to notice potential problem areas, but it’s also ideal to come up with ideas for a solution. 

10. Describe a challenging situation you faced as a personal assistant and how you handled it.

Pay attention to how they describe the situation and the people involved. What was the challenge? What were they responsible for? Was there a mess-up? What tactics did they employ to overcome said challenge? 

11. Could you walk us through your process for handling a complex project or event from inception to completion?

There’s a lot of insight you can glean from a person’s work process. You can see how they divide tasks into more manageable steps and if they set milestones. How do they plan and implement? Do they take notes while they work and after events to see where they excelled and where to improve? 

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

A smiling woman talking on a headset while typing on a laptop.

12. How do you manage confidential information?

This question helps to gauge how they tackle discretion. How serious is data security to them? Do they know which channels and software are more secure than others? 

13. Discuss your experience with managing internal and external communication.

A PA will have to handle communication within your company and with clients and partners. This means they need to be able to adjust their communication style depending on the situation. Note their experience with communication tools and the type of information they have relayed. 

Adaptability and Problem-Solving

14. Give an example of how you have adapted to unexpected changes in a work setting.

Personal assistants need to be flexible. They need to be able to bounce back from unforeseen disruptions and adjust accordingly. How do they take responsibility and deliver results? 

15. Describe a time when you had to solve a problem quickly and efficiently.

How were they able to think on their feet? You can even clarify if they thought of it on the spot or if they prepared a solution just in case this situation arose. 

Career Motivation and Goals

A man wearing glasses writing on notebooks while working on a laptop.

16. What motivates you in a personal assistant role?

We believe this is one of the most telling personal assistant interview questions you can ask. A person’s motivations can reveal a lot about their work values and care for those they work with. 

For example, here at Outsource School, we like to ask candidates if they value money or growth more. Growth-minded individuals tend to care about learning, are more ambitious, and are more likely to stay longer. Money-motivated candidates are not exactly bad, but their motivations can be problematic in the long term. It’s up to you to assess whether their money-motivations come from a place of greed or necessity. For instance, money-motivated individuals who are sole providers for their families can be some of the most earnest and hardworking. 

17. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

This is another way you can tell if an individual has a growth mindset. What are their long-term goals and how do they plan to get there? You can even ask them how this position will help get them there. 

Work Style and Ethics

18. Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?

Independence is a good indicator of self-management skills. A preference for group work can indicate a value of collaboration. Flexibility in this area is ideal. Either way, note how well their answer fits your company’s culture, values, and job scope. 

19. How do you maintain ethical standards in your work?

We’re not just talking about practices that are illegal like owning pirated copies of tools and software. We are also talking about integrity, honesty, and respect towards others. How do they maintain professionalism, submit to company SOPs and policies, and uphold company core values? 

20. How do you handle situations where you have to make decisions in the absence of your executive?

How well do they know the needs of their executive? Can they successfully work intuitively and independently? What level of supervision do they need? How trustworthy are they to be left to make decisions?

21. How do you handle constructive criticism or feedback from your employer?

No one is above criticism, and no one should be against feedback. One Biblical proverb states, “Pride comes before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction.” Remember, personal assistance is a service-oriented role that requires humility. They should always be ready and willing to change and improve their services for the sake of those they serve.  

Closing Questions

22. What questions do you have about the role or company?

This is a way to open up the conversation and give them the floor. If they ask anything related to vision, mission, company goals etc., this could be a good sign. It can indicate an interest in the business and not just the position or the paycheck attached to it!

23. Why should we choose you for this position?

Concluding our list of personal assistant interview questions is fittingly a question that helps candidates summarize what you’ve discussed. This is essentially their final pitch. Take note of what things they choose to highlight and their level of enthusiasm. 

What Is Outsource School?

outsource school

Outsource School helps you to unlock the potential of virtual assistants and accelerate your business growth.

This is the exact system Outsource School’s founders, Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan, used to go from zero to 8 figures and 40+ virtual assistants with an exit in 2019.

Since being founded in 2020, Outsource School has helped 1,000+ business owners hire 2,000+ virtual assistants for their companies.

Schedule a free sales call to learn more

Free resources you might like: 

Conclusion

This may not be the most comprehensive list of personal assistant interview questions. It isn’t meant to be. Our hope is that you use this as a template. It will assist you in personalizing and perfect your own interview process.

If you found this helpful, you might like our other posts on admin assistant and executive assistant interview questions!

 

Want help outsourcing & hiring virtual assistants? We make it easy! Learn More, Speak w/ an Expert, or Request a Callback

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