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Executive assistant skill test for potential job candidates

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Question: I'm the HR representative in a small financial-planning firm. We're looking for a really good executive assistant to support our three principals, but we're having trouble weeding out the candidates who sound good from the ones who really are.

Has anyone used a type of skill test to give at an interview, or can you point me in the right direction?

We're not asking for anything more than a very good, competent, organized person, and I know they're out there. Does anyone have any advice for this situation?  -- jodietz


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There are firms that test secretarial candidates for you. I had to test with such a firm before I was hired at the corporation where I work. The test consisted of typing and proofing tests which were timed.

My company gives computerized testing to anyone we are considering for a position at our company. The tests are costly but they are very accurate. We just looked at one of our current employees tests (she has been here for 2 1/2 years) and we found that the tests are definately accurate. You can go to chartyourcourse.com to get more information.

http://www.typingtest.com Try this link. It really good.

When I applied for my Ex Asst position, my test was examples right from the Executive Directors office. It was a follow up right after the interview. Basically, it showed you were paying attention to the conversation. If you are getting applicants at this level with this level work, you already know they can type and file. Can they listen and follow direction and give the support the Director needs, good follow up, good calendar management, etc. The heck with the typing skills, get the nitty gritty. I had to put priorities in order. I had to create a small powerpoint presentation with his specifics, etc. Take it right from the work load.

I would also suggest asking a lot of scenario type questions which forces the interviewee to really think how he/she would deal or feels about certain situations. You can learn a lot about an individual this way.

I would not assume a person knows the basics in typing, grammar, punctuation and filing because they have applied for a position. I recently ruled out 8 applicants because they could not pass a timed basic skills test. An applicant who passes the basic skills test is then sent on to to a panel interview. The questions are derived from the actual work the assistant would perform and the personality traits of the co-workers and boss the person would be working under. I personally have learned I would rather have someone who has the basics down and is a good personality fit for our organization than to have someone who has above average skills but is not a good personality fit. Skills can be taught easier than trying to change someone's personality.

In what city/state is the position located?

I have been an admin assistant for over 10 years. The last 2 jobs I have worked I started out as a temp. I prefer to do this over direct hires because I am able to feel the company out before accepting a position and it also gives the company a chance to see just how well you will work out. There are tons of test online or even call a placement agency, they test their canidates out before sending them on jobs.

I have access to a great program that will allow you to very accurately assess WHO a person is, which looks far beyond their resume/letters of references. It is a great predictor of success. Please feel free to contact me at dandkdeboer@windstream.net so I can give you details.

Local employment agencies (Randstad in particular) offer testing in MS Suite, etc. HOWEVER be warned, they have very outdated hardware and 1995 or 2000 software (as opposed to 2003 or XP). Also www.typingtest.com has a very good typing test and offers a certificate for purchase. If you're looking for personality testing, there's the Myers-Briggs testing. This can be quite expensive for an applicant, but there are offbranch tests very similiar found for free at www.personalitypathways.com or www.humanetrics.com or www.advisorteam.com or www.personalitypage.com. These tests can indicate the personality type of your applicant. For instance, my "type" is ENFP. (When inspired, ENFP's are fearless and tireless. Their energy will know no limits unless red tape takes over. Routine drags them down. Their faith in possibilities and belief in the benefit of change often inspire others to follow. They are challenging, ingenious and innovative. They will give their best to what appears to be an impossible challenge, a place unknown to man or beast. Good communication skills; Very perceptive about people's thought and motives; Motivational, inspirational; bring out the best in others; Fun to be with - lively sense of humor; energetic; optimistic; Strive for "win-win" situations;
Driven to meet other's needs; Usually loyal and dedicated)

And lastly - it is always helpful to speak to a former employer. Even if not the former employer, perhaps a co-worker from the former place of employment.

Hope this helps you find the perfect candidate!

Another online resource for testing is ExpertRating.com. There are free tests for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as well as paid ones. Has your company entertained the possibility of hiring a virtual assistant? My company offered certified and trained VA's. The Washington Post has predicted by the year 2008, the virtual assistant business will be over $130 billion. www.VirtuallyYours925.com

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn E. Norquest August 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

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Carolyn E. Norquest August 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

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Carolyn E. Norquest August 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

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Carolyn E. Norquest August 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

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Carolyn E. Norquest August 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

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