Let’s play a game. An admin at your firm has just bailed on you with little notice. You’ve got two potential replacements to fill the job, Norman and Yvette. Here’s what you can glean from their resumes:
They are both looking for jobs as administrative professionals in a corporate environment. Both have associate’s degrees from top-flight universities. Both have at least five years experience working in an administrative capacity within corporations. They both have at least a basic understanding of Microsoft Office, email and the Internet. Their reasons for leaving their prior employment situations were amicable and they both have fantastic references.
So who do you hire? If your answer was either candidate, you’re wrong. Here’s why.
Who is Norman?
Norman has spent the last 25 years working as an administrative assistant at a law firm specializing in crisis management. One of Norman’s strengths is his calming presence and no-nonsense attitude with clients. He can defuse just about any situation with ease.
Norman is also a great typist and note-taker and is able to do basic billing and invoicing. He’s got a flair for meeting planning and making travel arrangements. He can be counted on to be one of the first people in the office in the morning to make sure the coffee is fresh and the printers and copiers are well stocked with paper.
On the downside, he’s struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing technology – email is fine, but the nuances of the Internet are elusive to him. He prefers calling people on the telephone to make travel reservations and he refuses to get a smartphone.
Who is Yvette?
Yvette started her first, and only job to date, as an administrative assistant at a tech startup while she was still in college. After she graduated, she stayed on for another four years and is now looking to relocate.
Yvette is cool and friendly and while she personally doesn’t have a landline (she only uses her cell phone) she can certainly answer and field calls in a busy, corporate setting. She is an early adopter of any new technology, a social media guru and a complete Internet whiz. She can type reasonably quickly, though she’s never taken a formal typing class.
She spends her weekends photographing and videoing local bands and making music videos for them, which has allowed her a breadth of audiovisual know-how that has been very useful on the job. She’s also considered a maven of popular culture and style, making her a tremendous asset for older colleagues looking to connect to younger clients.
Yvette is widely beloved by her co-workers at the startup, but because her preferred method of communication is texting, she can often come across as aloof with clientele and she does not prefer to interact with people on the telephone. She also has great attention to detail when it comes to proofing a spreadsheet, but not so much when it comes to knowing how many sandwiches to order for a large meeting.
Who’s the right candidate? Combine tests to tell.
On paper, it seems like you couldn’t go wrong hiring either Norman or Yvette for your next administrative assistant. But that’s where the similarities end.
Skills testing allows you to determine if any potential employee has the right abilities and disposition for the job. Depending on the needs of your firm, the long-term experience and people skills of Norman might be just the thing. Alternatively, Yvette’s embrace of the cutting edge and interest in advancing could be the perfect fit. Fortunately, you can now ask any applicant to take an assessment to measure his or her hard skills like typing, as well as his or her soft skills, like desk-side manner. And you can tailor these tests to the needs of your organization so that you’ll know whether to hire Norman or Yvette from the get-go.
After all, hiring the right person should never be a game.
Kristina Minyard is currently the Director of Ignite Education in Huntsville, AL. She has over 11 years experience in HR, Recruiting, and Business Development. She utilizes her skills and experience in HR Consulting, Technical Recruiting, HR Policies, Staffing Services, and Labor Relations to create content on her blog hrpockets.com and other platforms.