How (and Why) to Hire a Great Administrative Assistant
Why Hire an Administrative Assistant?
A good administrative assistant can dramatically improve the productivity of your top employees by allowing them to focus more on their area of specialty and less on the administrative tasks that distract them.
A great administrative assistant typically serves as a strong backbone for an entire office.
This article will walk you step by step through how to attract, identify and hire a great administrative assistant.
The first step toward a great hire is attracting the right applicants. Because great candidates are tough to find, there is often a lot of competition among employers.
Step 1: Create a killer job post
Start with a administrative assistant job description template and customize it for your needs by adding information about your company and culture.
Next, craft a title that catches applicants attention. We have found that a title like “server” can attract significantly less applicants than a title like “hiring enthusiastic servers for busy restaurant.” More applicants usually means more quality candidates.
Now that you have an awesome post with a great title we need to get eyeballs on it!
Step 2: Post to a Relevant Job Board
Indeed.com – One of the largest job boards and great for white collar positions
Monster.com – Great board for white collar positions
CareerBuilder.com – Great board to post for admin assistant positions
Linkedin.com – You might be surprised to find that you can post a job on Linkedin. It is a great place to identify and target potential administrative assistants with previous experience!
Step 3: Reply Quickly
Once you have some candidates trickling in, reply quickly! Many hiring managers will wait a several weeks until they have a large pool of candidates. However, setting up interviews quickly is proven to dramatically increase response and hiring rates.
Identifying “The Right Stuff”
Once you have some great candidates and have scheduled an interview, you need to identify which candidates have the skill set you need in a good administrative assistant. Here are some examples of skills a great administrative assistant should have and how to interview for them.
Good Communications Skills
This is a critical skill because in order to be successful, a good administrative assistant will have to interface with numerous different employees and be able to effectively understand how they can help, what the employee needs and how to keep them updated.
Interview question: Tell me about a time you effectively communicated and a time you did not.
Time Management/Multitasking Skills
Because an administrative assistant works on many different tasks and is not as specialized as some other employees, it is important that a candidate has great multitasking and time management skills.
Interview question: How do you manage your time/multitask, what systems or tools do you use?
Excellent Writing Skills
A large part of an administrative assistant’s job involves writing. This includes writing reports, communicating with other employees through email, setting up travel arrangements via mail, etc. Good writing skills will significantly improve an administrative assistant’s productivity by ensuring that their communications are better understood.
Interview question: Can you please submit an example of something you wrote for a previous position?
Good Understanding of MS Office and Other Common Software Products
A large part of an administrative assistant’s job will be to create documents with or use software like MS office. A good knowledge of this software will allow a candidate to instantly increase efficiency.
Interview Question: Tell me about your experience working with XYZ software. What kind of project did you use it for?
Because administrative assistants often help with critical tasks it is important that they are reliable because a failure to accomplish a task as planned or on time can lead to a delay which could cost the company a client, employee time, etc.
Interview question: Can you tell me about a time you had a critical project to complete but were unable to get it done yourself?
Because administrative assistants often deal with a lot of confidential information, it is important that they are trustworthy & discreet. Although this can be very challenging trait to determine in an interview, it is arguably the most important.
A lack of confidentiality could have profoundly bad implications for your company beyond just a loss of efficiency. Ask about confidentiality in interviews and with references.
Sample interview questions: Are you comfortable being entrusted with confidential information?How will you ensure that you keep that information confidential?
Verifying A True Fit
A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 58% of employers have found a lie on an applicant’s resume or in an interview. As a result, it is critical that you verify the information a candidate provides is true.
One way to ensure a candidate is truthful in their account is to call their references. There are many resources to be found online on what specific questions you may ask a reference to gain the most useful information.
You may also consider doing a trial project whereby a candidate comes in and works for a day or two. Use this opportunity to simulate the environment and types of projects they will be working on.
This will give you a great idea of how the candidate actually performs on the job and what skills they have.
Hiring a great administrative assistant can transform your organization and fuel your growth. If you follow the steps in this article you should be well on your way to a successful hire. Good luck and happy hiring!
Article by Will Zimmerman, Proven.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.