By Rich Levin
Most real estate professionals find hiring assistants challenging. There is a process, however, that increases the odds of hiring the best possible candidate.
Step 1: Job Profile – Skills and Style
You are destined to hire badly unless you are clear on the job profile. That is, the skills that will be required and personal style that is best suited for the job.
Skills: Will the job require computer skills, (what programs or applications), organizational skills, graphic design skills, communication skills, and/or selling ability?
Personal Style: Will the job require someone that is great with people, well organized, results-oriented, a team player or a team leader?
The way to determine the skills and personal style necessary for the job is by writing a list of the tasks that will be assigned to the assistant. Then review the list and document the skills needed and style best suited to the particular tasks. Also, have a trusted colleague, broker or coach review it. This creates the job profile.
Personal Style: DISC Assessments
To understand and determine the best personal style, many organizations use a DISC assessment. There are four basic personal styles:
1. Results Orientation
2. People Orientation
3. Team and Trust Orientation
4. Process Orientation
Each of these four personal styles has advantages and disadvantages, which may or may not make a candidate the right choice for the specific job responsibilities at hand. You might also want to hire someone who has all four of the above orientations, but human beings are not made that way. A wrench may be used as a hammer, but using the wrench as a hammer gets the job done poorly and ruins the wrench. A human being’s make-up is appropriate for certain jobs and not for others. Mismatching the wrong style to the job frustrates both the employer and employee.
That’s why the first step is to create the job profile. List the roles, jobs, tasks and responsibilities. Then, deduce the skills needed and the style best suited for those jobs, tasks and responsibilities.
• Follow this entire process.
• Do not hire out of convenience.
• Do not hire because someone is available; because they are recommended, even highly recommended; or because they are related to someone you know. There is always a temptation to hire this way because it is easy. Most often it is a costly mistake.
• The available or recommended person might be a good fit. You may end up hiring him/her. But he/she needs to go through the entire process along with the other candidates before you do so. This ensures that you have the right person and it causes the assistant to have greater respect for you and the job.
Step 2: Locating the Best People
Tell everyone you trust that you are looking for an assistant: clients, brokers, agents, friends, etc. In addition, advertise for the position in local publications and online. Use the job profile described earlier to write an effective ad for the position.
The simpler the ad, the more responses you will get. However, there are a lot of people looking for this type of position, so put enough detail in the ad to pre-qualify the candidates.
Step 3: Reviewing Résumés
What is a quality résumé? It is neat and well written. It represents the work product of the candidate. The work experience should indicate that the candidate has the skills required. Also look for a consistency of employment and longevity in previous jobs; this shows reliability.
Step 4: The Phone Interview
Many ignore this step or simply haven’t considered it. It is a huge time saver and it provides valuable information. A phone interview is an effective and efficient method to determine whether or not to schedule an interview in person.
The phone interview is based on two questions. One question is a litmus-test question that asks specifically about a key, required skill or ability. For example, if working independently is necessary, the question is, “Which of your previous jobs required you to work most independently and why?”
The second question is specific to the résumé, i.e., “There is a six-month gap between jobs. Please tell me why.” These two questions allow you to listen for two things: first and obviously, the answers; second, the demeanor and phone style of the candidate. If the candidate sounds strong, schedule an in-person interview right then and there.
Step 5: First Personal Interview
After the phone interviews, there are normally less than five candidates chosen for live interviews. Schedule an hour for this interview. Your success will rely on this person’s work, so it is important to take the time to ensure that the best candidate is chosen.
Create a complete list of interview questions. It is best to ask the same question in different ways. Include real life, situational questions that pose actual situations the assistant is likely to encounter. Include challenging and difficult situations.
Ask. Don’t Tell.
Be sure most of the time is spent with the candidate answering your questions. Do not talk much or spend much time answering their questions until, and unless, you plan to hire them. Another common and costly error, particularly among salespeople hiring assistants, is to “sell” the position to the candidate. The result is that you disclose the characteristics and skills you are looking for, which corrupts the interview.
Preparing the Candidate
In the first interview, prepare the candidate. Let them know that their job will change. It will change as your business grows and as the market or the myriad of other things from forms to laws change. Explain that the job will be exciting and dynamic, seldom boring and often challenging.
Step 6: Second Interview
It is best to schedule a second interview. If you feel very strongly about the candidate, let them know that you feel it is a good match. At the second interview, finalize compensation, benefits, holidays and expectations. Create a list of “rules” and set the stage for general office attitude, dress and philosophy.
Rich Levin is a coach, educator and speaker, and president of Rich Levin’s Success Corp Inc. Contact him at Rich@RichLevin.com.
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