Administrative staff are often the go-to people for your organization. Staff these positions correctly, and people know things are going to get done. Which is why everyone from executives to front-line workers learn to call on administrative team members for assistance. 

But what happens when you don't have enough admin staff to go round because of sudden growth? Or, how do you handle workflow and organization when someone in an administrative job takes leave? One way to cover the gap is to hire temporary staff to stand in or offer additional assistance.

man smiling
man smiling

what to look for when hiring temporary administrative staff

Hiring administrative staff does require thinking about some specific skills and ensuring the people you bring on can truly fill the gap.

Even if you're hiring temporary workers for positions such as administrative assistants or accounting clerks for a few weeks or months, you need someone who can start out strong and carry on through the term of their assignment. Otherwise, you risk a critical touchpoint in your organization breaking down.

Here are six things to look for when hiring administrative staff to take on temporary assignments in your business.

administrative experience

Having already done something successfully is one of the best predictors that a hire will be able to repeat their performance. You don't need someone with the exact experience you're looking for, as skills definitely transfer. But the closer someone comes with their previous experience, the faster they'll come up to speed in your organization.

For example, if someone has data-entry experience in accounting departments, those skills will transfer. Sure, your system might be a little different, but someone who can successfully enter accounting data for one business can typically do it for another.

The same is true for an administrative assistant. If someone has experience keeping the IT department organized by fielding support tickets and scheduling IT field service, they can transfer those skills to do the same for field techs in a different business.  

organizational skills

No matter what type of administrative staff you're hiring, organizational skills are essential. Your temporary hire can't just be adept at organizing themselves, either. The point of most admin positions is to support other business functions and keep teams, documents or processes in order.

Here are some clues that someone might have proven organizational skills:

  • Has overseen or managed communication between multiple departments, teams or people
  • Manages calendars, documents or projects for others
  • Can provide specific anecdotes during a job interview about how their organizational capabilities improved processes, assisted other staff members or solved a problem

demonstrated time management skills

Chances are you're hiring administrative staff who need to be able to switch between tasks seamlessly, wear multiple hats and remember to circle back to unfinished tasks to get them done.

Look for evidence on resumes and in job interviews that candidates have these critical skills. Some indicators that people are good time managers include:

  • Experience successfully managing disparate tasks
  • Working busy reception desks
  • A history of handling multiple obligations successfully, such as going to school and working full-time 

discretion

Whether you're hiring someone to help with payroll and bookkeeping or as a temporary stand-in for an administrative assistant taking personal leave, discretion is important. Individuals in administrative positions often have access to information that simply isn't appropriate for everyone else to know.

Ask candidates if they've been in positions to handle sensitive information before and how they handled those tasks. You might also pose hypothetical questions such as, "What if you're handling the calendar for a high-level executive and your friend in another department asks about his or her schedule?"

problem-solving capability

There's a reason administrative professionals are the go-to people for their bosses, teams and departments. These individuals are often asked to figure out tasks that no one else knows how to do or is trained for.

For example an administrative assistant may need to figure out how to manage hotel and airline accommodations for a dozen visitors or trouble shoot a basic video conference or presentation technology. 

Look for candidates that are confident in their ability to figure things out, learn on their own and call on resources throughout the organization to get things done. 

strong communication skills

Written and oral communication skills are a must for anyone working in administrative jobs. Look for temporary workers who speak and communicate clearly and professionally. You can also look at the selection and hiring processes: People who are able to communicate what they need and understand your instructions (and follow through on them) for application and interview processes demonstrate good communication skills.

connect with an HR expert to find the right administrative candidates

If you're looking to hire administrative candidates to fill temporary positions, consider working with Randstad. We have:

  • A large network of pre-vetted candidates to fill your job openings quickly
  • Experience working with urgent timelines
  • The ability to streamline processes to reduce hiring costs and time-to-hire rates
  • Knowledge of local laws and regulations to keep you compliant with temporary hiring 

Check out our guide on how to use an HR partner to hire temporary workers to find out more.