Recruiting Tips That Can Help You Hire a Great Admin

By Robert Half December 16, 2015 at 3:00pm

Getting ready to hire a new admin? These strategies can help you find just the right person for your team.

When we ask employers what they want when hiring administrative staff, they’re pretty consistent: Strong communication skills, technical expertise, a great fit with the corporate culture and the ability to hit the ground running. Identifying candidates who meet all these criteria, however, isn’t always easy.

Here are some recruiting tips that can help you hire a great admin:

Know what you want

The best recruiting tips aren’t going to help you if the job ad doesn’t actually describe the type of candidate you’re looking for. Make sure you’re using an updated, accurate job description that reflects what’s most important for success in the open position today. It may or may not be a carbon copy of the attributes of the last person in the job, so reassess carefully. Too often, hiring managers dust off the previous job description and use it as is, without considering how the role may have changed since it was last filled.

Download our Ultimate Tip Sheet for Writing Great Job Descriptions for all you need to know about writing great job descriptions.

Ask for referrals

Ask your staff and professional contacts if they know anyone appropriate for the position. Your employees and friends aren’t likely to go out on a limb for people who would make lousy employees, so this can be a great source of leads.

Involve your administrative team

Forty-seven percent of administrative professionals said they would like to assist in the hiring of other administrative personnel. Yet only 37 percent have been asked to help in this area. These results are part of the Office of the Future research project from OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Don’t overlook your administrative team’s ability to make your job easier. They may be able to offer recruiting tips, input on the job description or suggestions for where to post the job ad. You may even consider asking trusted admins to review resumes with you or take part in the interview process. After all, who knows the ins and outs of the role better than they do?

Talk to a recruiter

Be sure to reach out to an administrative recruiter, especially if your hiring process seems to be taking too long. Recruiters work with administrative talent day in and day. They have a wide network of professionals with various skill sets and levels of experience. A skilled recruiter can make sure these job seekers are aware of your opening and help evaluate their qualifications to find the best fit for your vacancy.

A recruiter can also review your job description and tweak it, if necessary, so it appeals to a wider range of potential applicants.

Pay attention to little things

Are candidates polite on the phone and in person? How are their verbal and written communication skills when interacting with you? How do they treat others in your company while at the interview? The answers offer helpful insights into what someone may be like on the job.

Also consider what your administrative assistant thinks of a potential hire. Eighty-eight percent of managers interviewed for the Office of the Future project said their assistant’s opinion about job candidates is important.

Make them think

Skip the predictable — “Where do you see yourself in five years?” — and offer a hypothetical challenge. Ask how candidates have or would handle certain real-life situations. For instance: “A potential client calls to complain because the company’s salesperson never showed for an appointment. What would you do?” You’ll gain invaluable insight into the individual’s decision-making process.

Look for the wow factor

One of the most valuable recruiting tips is to note if an administrative candidate has gone above and beyond in their career. That, of course, includes their performance in previous jobs. But also consider things they’ve done outside the workplace. The job candidate may have pursued additional training, maintained membership in a professional association or earned an administrative certification. You are looking for steps that suggest the person is a true go-getter.

Check references

Of all our recruiting tips, this may be the most important. It can be challenging to get feedback from previous employers, but it’s worth putting in the effort to gather it. What you learn from checking references can greatly affect your hiring decision, either confirming you’ve found a star or alerting you to hidden red flags.

Try an honest approach with something like, “I’m seriously considering hiring Amy for this role, and I’d hate to have to let her go if she proves not to be a good match. I’d really appreciate any insights you can share about her.” Sometimes people will open up more if you make them care about the consequences of your hiring decision.

Be sure to check out these four must-do tips for checking job references before you tackle this step of the hiring process.

This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.

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