Once you’ve received job applications from prospective PA candidates, you’ll be one step closer to filling the post. The job interview process is crucial for sussing out if a candidate is the right fit for the role, so asking the right PA questions for an interview is really important. Asking questions around experience, education and career aspirations are important but competency-based questions will help you glean whether a candidate has what it takes to thrive in the role.
Here are some personal assistant interview questions we highly recommend you ask all candidates interviewing for a PA role, plus some ideal sample answers to the questions.
PA Interview Questions
1. Why do you think you’d be a valuable PA for our company?
The answer each candidate provides will be unique to them. However, you should be looking for them to share which skills they have that will provide value to you, the company and the role. This should tie back to the job description and the main requirements important to the role.
Ideal candidate response: A PA needs to be able to multi-task well in order to manage a busy workload effectively. In my last role, I had to manage the inbox, calls and calendar of the company’s CEO effectively. I will apply the same multi-tasking skills to my next PA role.
2. What motivates you most about being a PA?
Here, we’re looking for the candidate to tie back to the job description and what excites them the most about the position. We’re looking for a sense of what makes them tick and why this role would fit with their motivations. Other factors to look for in their answer could include workplace culture and strong working relationships, for example.
Ideal candidate response: I am motivated by being in a role where each day is different because I like being challenged. I’m also a very detail-oriented individual so I’m at my happiest when working on a task that requires me to be focused, such as compiling a report.
3. How do you prioritise tasks and organise your day as a PA?
This is a vital question because being organised is fundamental to being a successful PA. If a candidate cannot demonstrate excellent organisational skills, they will not be suited for the role. You are looking for a PA that demonstrates they can hit deadlines, help you complete tasks assigned to you and use technology to stay organised in their role, rather than relying on holding information in their heads.
Ideal candidate response: I do have a fairly good memory. However, I know that when I don’t write things down, there is a chance of tasks slipping through the net. My daily to-do list is my number one tool at work - it helps me stay on top of tasks I’ve completed and what still needs to be done. I also use Trello to track progress on my workflows.
4. What have you done to strengthen your skills and further your experience as a PA?
Here, you are looking for evidence of any additional training a candidate has undertaken to improve their skills. Good examples for candidates to share here include training courses they’ve taken both in their own time as well as opportunities provided by a former employer. Initiative is a key skill to look out for in an outstanding PA, so candidates that have taken the initiative to enhance their skill set are likely to be very successful in the role. For new PAs with little experience, look for evidence of transferable skills or examples of drive and tenacity.
Ideal candidate response: While I’ve not yet had the opportunity to undertake any formal PA training, I have previously shadowed and assisted a PA to an HR director in my last role. This was a great opportunity to learn transferable skills. And by the end, I was delegated responsibility for compiling the weekly sales report and lunch rota.
5. Why are you wanting to leave your current role?
This is always a good idea to ask any candidate, to understand the context of why they are looking for another role. Perhaps they are looking for the opportunity to grow or a new challenge. Especially in the current climate, where many redundancies are being made, this question can be a tricky one for candidates to answer honestly. However, you should look for candidates to remain professional in their response, explaining their reasoning positively. Complaints about previous employers should raise a red flag about whether this candidate can remain professional.
Ideal candidate response: I really enjoyed my time working for_____, however, after two years in the role, I felt that I was no longer being challenged and wanted more opportunities to grow. With this role providing training and the chance to collaborate with various teams, it makes me feel confident that I’d be fulfilled and challenged at your company.
Make sure you follow the above questions to ask at a personal assistant interview, and you are sure to get all of the key information you require about a prospective PA candidate.