How to Hire an Administrative Assistant in 5 Steps
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Hiring administrative assistants seems simple, but because admins handle a plethora of different tasks, you need to narrow down what you’re looking for. That’s the first step in finding the best fit. Admins will work closely with you, so you also have to choose someone you can build a good relationship with and trust to have your company’s best interests in mind.
1. Determine Job Duties
Ask yourself this question: What do I need an admin to do? List out every task you need an admin to do for you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This will give you a good idea of the type of administrative assistant you need to hire.
Different Types of Admins
Although Administrative Assistant is a widely used title, it actually refers to a variety of different jobs. The following brief descriptions may help you decide which direction to take.
- Answers incoming phone calls
- Schedules appointments
- Handles light filing and organization
- Answers phones and schedules appointments and meetings
- Prepares presentations and correspondence
- Performs general office filing and organization
- May manage office supplies and ordering
- Organizes and prepares office communication
- Plans meetings and company events
- Prepares reports
- May conduct general research
- Plans meetings and events, including travel arrangements
- Prepares expense reports
- Keeps meeting minutes
- Must be a trusted confidant
Essential Admin Skills
No matter what type of admin you need to hire, there are some common essential skills you should look for:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to quickly schedule meetings
- Technical skills to build presentations and reports
- Ability to transcribe information quickly
- Effective and direct communication
- Ability to maintain confidential information
2. Determine Salary
Right off the bat, we need to make one thing clear: Depending on the state your company is in, you may be required to post a salary range in your job ad. Make sure you check your state laws to see if your state has this requirement.
Going through the first step will give you a good idea of the type of admin you need to hire. This points you in the right direction for a starting salary. Of course, your salary must also take into account what your business can afford to pay. Weighing these interests, you may find you need to reduce your expectations slightly, especially in a hot job market.
The reason for this is that admin salaries range a great deal. Some entry level admins make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Others with more experience, like Executive Assistants, can make over $30 per hour. The national average is $18.12 per hour, or $37,690 per year. If you need someone with extensive experience, be prepared to offer a competitive salary.
3. Write & Post an Enticing Administrative Assistant Job Description
Now that you have determined what type of admin you need to hire and how much you’re going to pay them, it’s time to write a job description. Your administrative assistant job description should be enticing, detailed, and direct. Here is a template job description you can use and adjust to your specific needs.
You also need to include certain keywords in your description. Using the following will help your ad show up in more search results, giving you access to more qualified candidates:
- Administrative assistant
- Office assistant
- Executive assistant
- Data entry
4. Review & Interview Applicants for the Administrative Assistant Position
Hiring an employee for any job in your company takes time and effort. Reviewing applicants is one of the most time-consuming steps, especially for an admin role. Because this person will work closely with you, you need to be involved in the hiring process to create a rapport with the person you eventually hire.
Schedule an interview with any applicant whose resume and cover letter match your requirements. During the interview, you can get to know the person better and figure out if there is rapport.
Here are some sample questions you may want to ask during interviews:
- Tell me what you think the day-to-day responsibilities will look like here.
- How have your previous roles prepared you for this one?
- Tell me about a time when you had to maintain confidentiality or discretion and how you did so successfully.
- How do you deal with someone in the office you don’t get along with or have had conflict with?
- How do you handle upset customers in a professional manner? Give me an example, if you can.
The interview process should give you the opportunity to fully evaluate the best applicants. Once you’ve had the chance to speak with them all and to give your mind time to process their responses, it’s time to make a decision.
5. Make an Offer
When you’ve weighed your options and you’re ready to make an offer, call the applicant first. You can give them the good news and make an informal offer. This gives you a chance to discuss some of the final details, like salary and start date, before you draft your offer letter. Once you have nailed down all the details, present the candidate with a written offer letter. Give them at least three business days to review the offer, sign it, and return it to you.
Make sure your offer letter includes the job title, start date, salary, job description, and the position’s exempt or nonexempt status. These are important details that keep everyone on the same page and give your new employee clarity. I recommend having the new employee sign both the offer letter and the job description, attesting to their ability to perform the necessary components of the role.
Hiring an Administrative Assistant as an Employee vs Freelancer
Here’s a wrinkle to consider when looking to hire an administrative assistant: Maybe you don’t need to hire an employee at all. Depending on your needs, you may be able to save some money by going a different route.
When deciding on your specific needs for this administrative role, you have options on the type of employee you hire. It’s no secret that gig work is on the rise. And many of these gig workers and freelancers are operating as virtual assistants. If you don’t need someone full-time, don’t need them in-house, and can deal with some of the nuances of partnering with a freelancer or contractor, it might be an option for you to consider.
This can be more of a headache than it’s worth, especially if your company gets fined for misclassifying an employee as a contractor. However, in some cases where you have an administrative project that you need completed, it might be worth it to explore this option.
For more information on the differences between employees and contractors, check out our guide on 1099 contractors vs W2 employees.
Just like any other job, hiring an administrative assistant requires time and effort to make sure you’re getting the right employee. The steps above can streamline your hiring process, ensuring you get qualified applicants and end up hiring someone with the necessary skills and someone you enjoy working with closely.