Secretaries play a myriad of roles. They handle administrative tasks, answer phones, communicate with customers inside and outside the company and keep you -- the boss -- on track. With so many responsibilities, choosing the right secretary from a pool of applicants can be daunting. The selected candidate must have an arsenal of clerical skills; she must be a good fit with the culture because she is your direct reflection. With so much at stake, there are assessments and interview methods you should follow before hiring a secretary.
Typing, filing and knowing how to navigate Microsoft Office comprise the trifecta of essential secretarial skills. Before hiring a candidate, she must prove her computer literacy, keyboard familiarization and her attention to detail. Computer-generated tests provide the most concrete validation of a candidate's skills. The best approach to testing candidates for these skills involves using a testing company such as ProveIt to set up a testing station at your office.
Assessing a secretarial candidate's cultural fit and her integrity level involves asking questions, observing and testing. Secretaries are trusted to keep information confidential and positively interact with employees of all echelons. Personality tests provide valid results in measuring a potential secretary's character and how she will represent you when interacting with others. These tests are credible. Accurate personality tests are based on the work of pioneers in the field of psychology. The Jung Typology Profiler for Workplace test models the work of Carl Jung, one of the most notable figures in psychology.
Since your secretary will heavily interact with the rest of your team, the best technique to assess her cultural fit is through watching how she relates to the team when she doesn't realize you are observing her. Remember there is a difference between being nervous and being uncomfortable. Watch her body language. If she smiles as she looks around the office, or if she initiates conversations with other employees, these actions indicate a level of comfort.
Ask the candidate what she knows about the company's history and what she thinks about its early years. Since historical beginnings shape the company's culture, her responses will dictate how she feels about the values and the mission of the company. It is important that your secretary know how the company was started and imperative that she agrees with what it stands for; she might be the first person an outsider contacts when he wants to do business and she must be a natural fit to market your company and its values.
Your secretary will feel pressure because she will have many deadlines that require multi-tasking. She must have confidence to stay strong and not buckle under the stress. Escort her to an interview room that requires her to walk a little distance around the office environment. Subtly watch how she walks. If she walks with her head down there is a good chance she has little confidence and will buckle under pressure. But if she keeps her head up and even looks around absorbing the environment and interacts with people she passes, there is a strong chance she has the mettle to hold her own under stress.
The secretary serves as the liaison between you and the public; she must be articulate. Her behavior in the interview will be the clearest sign of her ability to effectively communicate. Keep her talking and observe her clarity. Explain your role in the company and ask her to repeat what you've said. Doing this will tell you if she is actively listening. Also, sharing information about each other's roles will help you determine her level of interest in working closely with you. An open business relationship is vital to effective communication and your company's success.
- Faking It: Can Job Applicants 'Outsmart' Personality Tests?
- Carl Jung
- For Employers and Business Owners: Next Act Assessment Center
- Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: What Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Do
- Interview With Your First Impression in Mind
- Organizational Culture
- Your Company's History as a Leadership Tool; John T. Seaman Jr. and George David Smith
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.