9 Characteristics To Look For In Administrative Hires
By: Nicole Cochran
Hiring administrative personnel for your church staff can often seem like an easy job, but finding someone who fits your team’s needs and will exceed expectations can be more difficult than it seems. Every administrative role is different. Depending on the role and on the other people on the team, the person you need to hire will change.
You need to have a list of priorities and know what you need in this hire. Even roles such as Executive Assistant will vary depending on who they are assisting. Does your pastor need a gatekeeper to help them say no, or do they need someone able to help guide them through their day? Listen to the needs of your team and where they need someone to help them; this will guide your priorities in finding an administrator.
As varied as support roles can be, there are some top qualities to prioritize when looking to fill these roles. Here are some vital characteristics to look for in your next administrative hire.
1. They know when & how to say yes.
Working in a church or a nonprofit organization very often requires an “other duties as necessary” bullet point in job descriptions. An administrative employee is no different. They should have a propensity for yes, but still be wise enough to discern if something doesn’t align with the vision. One of my colleagues writes more about that here!
It’s important to distinguish between someone who leads with a yes and a “yes man.” In any hire, find a person who, as William Vanderbloemen writes here, “Trusts [you] and themselves enough to question [your] ideas and point out where they could be better.”
2. They are high-capacity.
Administrative employees must be high-capacity. I really can’t stress it enough. Someone who is high-capacity may have a two-page to-do list but has systems in place to keep themselves and those they’re working with organized. Another colleague writes about it here, saying that they must understand your ministry, push to raise the bar of excellence, be solution-oriented, speak the language of performance and push success, and consistently outperform others. Look for someone who has a proven track record in this area, and they will likely go far.
3. They take instruction well.
This can often be easily spotted in the interview process. Provide some sort of assignment and see how they complete it. Pay attention to how they follow directions, as well as their speed, responsiveness, and ingenuity in their work.
4. They aren’t afraid to ask questions.
Encourage questions! This is so important in administrative hires across the board. People who typically excel in these roles are detailed and meticulous in their work. They should be asking lots of questions in the beginning about processes and systems, as well as the bigger overall picture of things. These questions will show that they want to do the best they can to learn the ins and outs and master even the smallest of detail.
5. They possess humility.
I would argue that this is a quality that goes far in all roles, but particularly in administrative employees. I’m not talking about humility in the sense that they are easily walked on or are timid, but that they possess awareness and respect. As the author Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, “For leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.” An administrative hire should have the potential to be just as great of a leader as anyone else at your church.
6. They don’t cave under pressure.
Administrative positions tend to be high pressure at times, with tight deadlines and extra hours. Having people in these roles that cannot only work quickly and accurately but can withstand temporary stress or a fast-paced environment is key.
7. They possess the ability to anticipate.
I want to write this one in ALL CAPS. This is a characteristic that makes a support person stand apart; it makes them go from good to great. Hire an administrative employee that can learn the systems and team so well that they know how to best serve each person before they’re even asked. It will take your entire team to the next level!
8. They are willing to take on extra tasks.
Inevitably administrators catch many of the miscellaneous tasks around the church office. Whether it’s coordinating the move-in of a new campus or arranging a caterer for a staff lunch, unavoidably their duties expand beyond the boundaries of typical 8-5 desk duties, so find someone willing and ready to go the extra mile.
9. They have top tier organizational systems.
No two people will use all the same tools to keep their life in order, but a great administrative person will easily be able to provide examples of systems they use to stay orderly. Whether it’s calendar reminders, checking things off in Wunderlist, or good old-fashioned pen and paper, someone in these types of roles will need systems to have a grasp on their to-dos. With so many spinning plates, administrators must not only have their own methods of organization, but they must be able to operate within preexisting systems your church or organization has in place. Look for examples of how they have done this in previous jobs.
What other qualities do you look for in support role candidates?