Keys To Hiring Great Office Staff

Author(s): 
Danielle Chicano, Editorial Associate

   Although Ms. Homisak warns that there are certain questions that are off-limits when interviewing a candidate, you may obtain some information if you word it correctly.

   For instance, it is not legal to ask a person’s age, citizenship or marital status. However, you may ask if the candidate is over the age of 18, if he or she is authorized to work in the United States and if he or she is willing to travel, relocate and/or work overtime.

   In Ms. Homisak’s experience, by having an open conversation, one can often learn personal information about the candidate without asking directly. “More often than not, they have willingly offered information on their own,” she explains.

   Ms. Homisak notes that she looks for certain cues in an applicant’s responses that may offer additional insight. She suggests looking for answers that reflect good communication and problem-solving skills, honest reactions to situational questions, a candidate’s impression of his or her strengths and weaknesses, and his or her definition of success.

   “I am skeptical of someone who tells me they can multitask. I would expect that details are often overlooked and too many mistakes are being made with potential sloppy and harried work,” adds Ms. Homisak.

Identifying Red Flags In Interviews

One important red flag to look out for is a candidate’s previous job history and time on the job, explains Dr. Sanders. She also says one should pay attention to how a person speaks about his or her previous jobs. If they complain about prior positions and co-workers, they will most likely complain about their position at her office, notes Dr. Sanders.

   “Even if a candidate has the right skills/experience, if they haven’t held a job for more than a year, I’m likely to pass,” says Dr. Sanders. “I also listen carefully to how they describe management and co-workers at prior places of employment.”

   Ms. Homisak advises employers to look specifically at an applicant’s resume and application for apparent red flags:

• Look at the number of jobs the applicant has on his or her resume and if there are any gaps in work history.
• Look for spelling and grammatical errors.
• Does their educational background match the job requirements and is it relevant?
• Are they able to answer questions properly on the applicant quiz?

   Dr. Werber agrees that during his interviews, frequent job changes are a primary red flag. He explains that frequent relocations without good reason also might prompt him to shy away from a candidate.

   In his experience, listening and observational skills are helpful in picking up on these red flags. He suggests paying attention to how they dress, how they present themselves on the phone, when they show up for an interview and how they interact during the interview. According to Dr. Werber, someone who is constantly fidgeting and has poor eye contact might not be the best candidate.

Navigating The Compensation Conversation

How do you address compensation during an interview? These experts say being upfront and open with candidates is often the best way to approach the subject.

   Dr. Sanders will clearly state compensation and benefits even before the face-to-face interview and will reiterate the salary during the interview to avoid any misunderstandings.

   Ask the applicant what salary range he or she is looking for and explain the range you are offering along with any bonuses that may be available, says Dr. DeHeer.

   Ms. Homisak agrees that you may ask candidates what their expectations are in order to learn if you both have the same general figure in mind. She advises employers to ensure they have a well-defined job description and not just a list of duties. Assign a “base wage” to the description and explain to the candidate what the job pays, she notes.

   Ms. Homisak says she likes to start potential employees on the “lower side of fair” until they prove their professionalism, proficiency and enthusiasm.

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