Are you ready to hire a new secretary? Then it's important to make sure she has what it takes for this role. Secretaries do a lot more than just type letters and memos, answer phone calls and schedule meetings. Strong communication skills, attention to detail, commitment, integrity and professionalism are just a few of the key attributes of a secretary.

Essential Qualities of a Secretary

As a business owner, you want to find a secretary who is loyal and committed. She also needs to have good judgment and be able to make decisions on your behalf if necessary. For example, if you're traveling and one of your employees is facing a particular problem, the secretary should be able to help him out or point him to someone who can assist him.

Good secretaries know when and how to take appropriate action. They also have the ability to make quick decisions and improvise when the situation calls for it. Resourcefulness is one of the most important characteristics of a secretary. After all, what's the point in hiring a secretary or personal assistant if you're the one who does all the work?

The person you hire should share your values and put you in a positive light. She's going to be your "face" or "voice" to the world. Professionalism, discretion and a willingness to go the extra mile are all essential skills of a good secretary. Depending on your budget and the job requirements, you may hire someone with more or less experience – just make sure she has strong organization and time-management skills, follows through quickly with all tasks and pays attention to the small details.

Excellent Communication Skills

Secretaries interact with customers, business professionals and various departments on a constant basis. They are often the first person to greet clients and investors. Therefore, they must have the ability to express themselves clearly, follow directions and communicate effectively. At the same time, they should be able to make people feel comfortable and welcomed.

When you interview candidates, pay attention to how they talk to you and express themselves. Look for cues in their speech and body language. Ask scenario-based questions to get a better idea of their communication and decision-making skills. Here are some examples:

  • What would you do if a client insists to talk to the manager while he's in a meeting?
  • What's your strategy for building rapport with others?
  • How would you react if an angry customer confronted you?
  • What would you do to convince a potential business partner to make time for a meeting with your superiors?
  • What would you do if the manager asked you to complete a task that falls outside of your job description, such as reviewing a financial report?

Strong Computer Skills

Gone are the days when it was enough for a secretary to be knowledgeable in Microsoft Word and Excel. In this digital era, secretaries must have a strong grasp of email and texting, event management software, financial software and more, depending on the industry.

For example, a secretary working for a startup may be required to wear multiple hats. He must know how to use customer relationship management software, do basic bookkeeping and support the completion of regular reports. A small company that has just three or four employees might ask the secretary to send out tweets or post updates on Facebook on its behalf.

Loyalty and Commitment

Loyalty is one of the key characteristics of a secretary. Those who work in this role often know more about a company than most employees. They have access to financial documents, legal reports, accounting data and sensitive information. It's their responsibility to keep this data confidential and secure.

A good secretary will be committed to her job and the company she works for. She won't complain about her work or disclose sensitive information to her unauthorized persons, such as her friends. She will also know right from wrong and maintain integrity at all times.