Office assistants play a crucial role in small businesses.
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The last thing you need to worry about is whether or not the daily routines of workplace are running smoothly.
Ideally, your office assistant should do more than type letters and answer phones. A capable office assistant should also possess the ability to bring organization and professionalism to the workplace. But modest salaries, limited advancement opportunities, and other factors make finding and keeping a top-notch office assistant a daunting task. To maximize the effectiveness of your office assistant, you'll need to know what you are looking for before you begin the hiring process.
The first quality you should look for in an office assistant is competence. Far too many offices flounder simply because the office assistant is either untrained or unable to perform their job at a satisfactory level. Minimally, an office assistant needs to be computer literate and demonstrate a working knowledge of word processing, scheduling, database, and spreadsheet software (e.g. MS Office). He/she should also possess the interpersonal and analytical skills that the job requires.
Another important quality you should look for is organization. Remember, your office assistant will be required to play a central role in tasks such as scheduling and coordination of resources. To be effective, you'll need someone who is highly organized with an ability to multitask. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a mess on your hands.
Time management is also a key qualification for an office assistant. A small business is a fast-paced working environment. Your office assistant needs to be comfortable working in such an environment and demonstrate the skills needed to keep up with you without dropping the ball or complaining.
Personality is a quality that is sometimes overlooked when hiring an office assistant. But just because an applicant looks good on paper doesn't mean he/she has the personality to function effectively in your company. Even so, it is difficult to get to know an applicant in a single interview. It never hurts to conduct a second or third interview – whatever it takes to decide whether the applicant's personality is a good fit for you and your workplace.
Finally, it is imperative that your office assistant demonstrates the ability to maintain confidentiality. It is an unavoidable fact that your office assistant will be privy to information that other people in the company do not know. Employee salaries, correspondence, personal scheduling – all of these things (and more) are likely to cross your office assistant's desk sooner or later. Clearly communicate the need for confidentiality to all applicants and make sure the person you hire is someone you can trust.