A company’s workplace team is indispensable. The members (or sometimes only member) of the team like the Office Manager, Executive Assistant, HR/People Manager, and IT Support are responsible for so much—all in service of enabling their coworkers to focus and be productive.
If you’re looking to build out your workplace team—especially if you’re the only person on it—hiring is tough. Resumes can be out-of-the-box, the pool of candidates is large, and understanding what specific qualities you’re looking for in a teammate or successor is challenging as these roles don’t necessarily require a niche skill set.
So—how can you ensure you are finding the best people for your workplace team?
After 6 years of specializing in recruiting for these exact types of professionals (and training others on how to recruit for them), here is my advice:
1. Be open minded.
When it comes to hiring administrative staff and workplace managers, most of the important qualities don’t translate on a resume such as: reliability, intuition, proactivity, sense of urgency, positivity, and a can-do attitude.
Education and relevant industry experience is always a good place to start. However, hiring for these types of professionals require in-person screening to fully understand who they are as a person and their motivations and career priorities. Keep an open mind to the various responses you may hear; the career path of a successful workplace professional can sound vague or non-traditional.
2. Know your priorities and must-haves.
People choose careers as workplace professionals for a variety of reasons. It’s important to know what you need specifically for the open role in order to find the best matched candidates. Some candidates may apply to the job as a stepping stone, while others may be looking for a long-term career. Depending on the needs of your team and the company as a whole, determine the type of candidate you’d prefer to find.
3. Ask the right questions and provide a best-in-class candidate experience.
Once you’ve set your priorities, it’s imperative to ask the right questions in the interview process while providing a best-in class-experience. Today’s best interviews are candid conversations happening between people who truly want to get to know each other personally and professionally in order to make a holistic match.
The nature of our hyper-connected world requires us to bring our full selves to work and even bring our work into our personal lives. This means it’s no longer productive to have a surface level conversation if you want to truly find the right people for your team.
Here are a few very open-ended, conversational questions that provide an opportunity to learn more about a candidate:
What’s motivating you to look for a new opportunity right now?
This question can reveal any issues or negativity regarding current/former managers or companies. It will also help you understand their motivation, which can be useful knowledge if you end up hiring them for your team.
What are your priorities?
This question prompts the candidate to open up a bit about their career in relation to the other pieces of their life like family, hobbies, and other interests. This will also help you understand if someone is looking for a day job or a long-term career.
Will you be able to get strong references from your former managers?
I like to ask this question because it provides an understanding of how a person perceives the way they are viewed by others. It opens up the conversation to whether there were any issues in past jobs and will help you note any red flags up front.
Finding the right people for any job can be tough. A company’s workplace team sets the tone for the office and helps to hire future employees across the company, so it is critical to ensure you are not only finding people who have the skills, but the right attitude, personality, and career goals that match your workplace team needs.