How to Choose an Administrative Assistant Staffing Agency
Leveraging an administrative assistant staffing service can be a great shortcut to getting talented administrative support quickly—without the hassle of spending weeks or months making a direct hire in-house.
However, there are many staffing solutions on the market, and it’s often difficult for companies to figure out which staffing or recruiting agency to use. So, how should you evaluate staffing agencies to determine which one will best meet your expectations and needs?
That’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. Below we cover:
- How to Evaluate Administrative Staffing Agencies: 2 Key Questions to Ask
- The Hiring Methodology We’ve Designed to Provide World-Class Administrative Assistants to Our Clients
- How Our Remote Administrative Assistant Service Works
Note: Our unique hiring methodology enables us to find top tier assistants for our clients. We hire roughly 1 out of every 1,000 candidates. If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, or you want to shortcut the hiring process, click here to get started. You can try an assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.
How to Evaluate Administrative Staffing Agencies: 2 Key Questions to Ask
When using a staffing agency to hire an administrative assistant, the #1 thing that will predict success in that engagement is the agency’s process for finding and hiring top tier administrative professionals. Therefore, the key to evaluating a staffing firm is to understand how well designed and rigorous their hiring process is.
Specifically, you should seek to answer 2 key questions:
- What specific criteria do they look for when hiring assistants for their service?
- How rigorously do they vet assistant candidates during their hiring process?
In this section we’ll discuss what you should look for when asking these questions to prospective staffing agencies.
Note: Most services do not have dedicated pages or FAQs on their website to address these questions, so you will generally need to ask them directly. If an agency gives vague answers, you should consider other options.
Question #1: What Specific Criteria Do They Look For When Hiring Administrative Assistants?
When hiring people for administrative jobs (office managers, office assistants, file clerks, etc.), most companies and staffing agencies make a crucial mistake regarding the criteria they look for in candidates.
Specifically, they rely too heavily on looking for proxy variables, such as:
- Which university the candidate graduated from
- Whether they have previous experience as an admin assistant (or office administrator, office clerk, etc.)
- How long they were with their last company
Then, they make assumptions about candidates based on these proxies. For example:
- Proxy: This person went to UC Berkeley. → Assumption: They’re probably pretty intelligent.
- Proxy: This person has been an admin assistant before. → Assumption: They probably have pretty strong organizational skills.
- Proxy: This person was at their last job for three years. → Assumption: They’re probably pretty dedicated and reliable.
Instead of focusing on the end result—the actual attributes that qualified candidates need to have (e.g. intelligence, organizational skills, reliability, etc.)—companies use these proxies to make assumptions about the traits or skills they might be looking for. But in our experience, these assumptions are wrong almost as often as they’re right.
So, if you ask a staffing agency what criteria they focus on when hiring assistants for their service, be wary about working agencies that focus heavily on these sorts of proxies, and look for agencies that focus directly on the abilities and traits that make great assistants.
And then (equally important), look for agencies that directly and thoroughly measure candidates on these traits and abilities.
Question #2: How Rigorously Do They Evaluate Assistant Candidates During Their Hiring Process?
As we discussed at length in our founding story, the typical hiring process for administrative positions (executive assistants, front desk, office support, data entry clerks, etc.) lacks the rigor that it takes to find truly great admin support.
Companies and staffing agencies tend to make hiring decisions based on resumes and a few short interview conversations. But nuanced attributes like intelligence and communication skills—and traits like how organized or motivated someone is—can’t be reliably measured or understood through resume review and interviews alone. Additional tools and assessments need to be used.
So, before you hire a staffing agency to provide you with an administrative assistant, be sure to ask them:
- What specific attributes do they look for in their assistants?
- Do they directly measure these attributes during their hiring process?
- How do they measure these attributes? What specifically do they do?
- And how thorough are they in the measurement of candidates’ key traits and abilities?
If they’re vague in answering these questions, or say they primarily rely on resumes and interviews, you should consider other options and choose an agency that has a more rigorous recruitment process like what we use at Persona.
The Hiring Methodology We’ve Designed to Provide World-Class Administrative Assistants to Our Clients
We’ve used our backgrounds in behavioral science and assessment design to create a hiring methodology that directly and thoroughly measures candidates based on the abilities and traits that have been shown to predict success in an administrative assistant role. Specifically:
1. Problem Solving Ability
How smart are they? Can they figure things out in new and complex situations?
2. Key Character and Behavioral Traits
Are they organized, reliable, trustworthy, detail-oriented, etc.?
3. Communication Ability
How well do they write and communicate? Can they play the role of gatekeeper, communicating on your behalf or alongside you with key stakeholders (executive team members, board members, investors, etc.)?
How comfortable are they with learning new technologies and software? How quickly can they pick up and learn the programs that modern companies use to run their businesses?
Rather than make assumptions about the extent to which candidates possess these traits and abilities based on resume proxies and a few short conversations, we use a tailored mix of the following when assessing candidates:
- Quantitative assessments: Tests that allow us to evaluate candidates accurately on key generalist abilities.
- Structured interviews: A strategic interview process to cross-compare candidates on the qualities and abilities that matter.
- Work sample projects: Mock projects to see the quality of their work, based on the types of project-based or administrative tasks they’re likely to do in an assistant role.
- Communication exercises: Exercises to evaluate candidates on key communication skills such as email etiquette.
- Reference and background checks: A structured approach to interviewing candidates’ references.
By leveraging additional forms of assessment such as work sample projects and communication exercises, we’re able to see how candidates perform the exact types of tasks that they’ll be responsible for on the job. We have concrete evidence that they have what it takes to be successful in the role before we hire them. And as a result, we’re able to consistently deliver top talent assistants to the executives and businesses we serve.
Currently, our assistants manage some combination of the following for our clients (much of which goes beyond the average admin assistant job description):
- Communications: Manage email, communicate on an executive’s behalf and alongside them with key team members and stakeholders.
- Scheduling and time management: Manage an executive’s calendar, schedule meetings and phone calls, resolve scheduling issues, balance personal appointments with work meetings.
- Project management: Manage the executive’s to-dos, ensure they stay up to date and on track with their key projects.
- Business operations: Help create, organize, and improve on internal business processes and standard operating procedures. Help with recurring administrative assistant tasks such as data entry.
- Marketing and social media management: Create and schedule social media posts on top platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, monitor engagement metrics, respond to comments, help grow overall online presence.
- People operations: Act as a human resources assistant, supporting efforts to manage employee onboarding, assist in employee recruitment (e.g. reviewing resumes and cover letters for certain criteria), manage payroll, etc.
- Strategic planning: Work with the company leaders to define and come up with plans for new products, initiatives, and services. Project manage some or all of these new company programs.
- Client services: Handle important interactions with clients (e.g. manage invoicing, perform customer service representative functions, etc.).
- Special projects: Manage a wide variety of unique projects depending on your business needs. For example, our assistants have worked on things like light graphic design in Canva, workflow design, transcription, lead generation, CRM management, Amazon eCommerce management, and more.
- Personal assistant tasks: Help make online orders, reservations, travel arrangements, and other accommodations for executives’ personal lives.
Try a Remote Administrative Assistant With Persona
We provide world-class administrative support for all types of industries, including tech startups, non-profits, real estate, professional services, financial services, and more.
If you’re a founder, business owner, or senior executive interested in trying out one of our top caliber assistants, you can try one for a month or two and see how you like it. We require no long-term commitments.
Here’s how to get started with us:
- Step 1: Complete our form to let us know your needs.
- Step 2: If you’re a good fit, we’ll set up a call to discuss our service and pricing with you.
- Step 3: Our team will hand pick a superb assistant who we think will be a great fit for you based on your preferences and business needs.
- Step 4: Our talent team will guide you through the onboarding process.
- Step 5: For a flat monthly rate, you get a full-time, world-class assistant (no long-term commitment needed).