When I started researching this topic, I found a whole load of articles on why businesses should never, and I mean NEVER, let the incumbent member of staff recruit their replacement. There were a whole load of reasons that I kinda agreed with, but from experience, this is something that a lot of Assistants have done in their career and will do in the future. I’ve had to recruit my replacement twice. Once when I was promoted and hired a replacement Administrator who I line managed and secondly when I was leaving the role to move to a different business. I have also been interviewed a handful of times by an EA who was leaving the position. To give you an example of why you shouldn’t probably recruit your replacement, I was once told by an EA interviewing me ‘you seem nice, please don’t take this role it is awful!’ I left the interview pretty quickly!
So while it might not be the best idea for your organisation to ask you to recruit your replacement, it is something that you might get asked to do before you leave for pastures new. There are some benefits to the process for you. Here are a few:
- You get to leave your old position knowing that you have handed the role over to someone capable
- You know that you’ve left your Executive in good hands, which means you can ask for that amazing reference in the future
- You haven’t burnt any bridges. You’ve left on a positive note which is always an excellent way to leave your old employer
- You are part of the recruitment process, which is a great skill to add to your toolkit.
Recruiting your replacement – where do you start?
So, if you have been asked to recruit your replacement and you haven’t hired a new member of staff before. Where do you start? Here are a few tips.
- Meet with HR straight away so that they are part of the process. You will need to work with them on the recruitment, interview and offer stages.
- Arrange a meeting with your Executive about the replacement and ask the following questions:
- What are the objectives or this new recruitment?
- Is it a like for like replacement or do you want to recruit a new Assistant who has different skills?
- Is the job description still relevant for this new role? Can you update it so that the new Assistant has more clarity around the tasks and responsibilities?
- Can you recommend any recruitment agencies that you have worked with in the past that understand the Assistant role? You can put these forward to your HR team so that they don’t just rely on their standard recruitment practices.
- Are you going to promote the role on LinkedIn or other social media? What can you say on your profile that will help promote the job?
- Can you recruit internally? Is there anyone you know who would be perfect for replacing you or has the potential to grow into the role?
- Once you start receiving applications make sure you take the time to review each one thoroughly, these are people looking for a new role which could be life changing, so do give them your time and attention. Look for the obvious skills and requirements but try to get a sense if their personality will fit well with your Executive. It might be easier to gain this sort of level of detail by looking at their LinkedIn profile.
The Interview Process
Once you have selected your candidates, you will need to interview them. Depending on the level of the role the candidates might have to go through a series of interviews, but you should interview the candidate with your HR colleague (this is important if you haven’t conducted an interview before) and then do a second round of interviews with your Executive. There are loads of great resources out there to help you hold your interview but here are a few tips that I found useful:
- Be prepared. It is your role, so you will know everything there is to know about the position but plan out how you want to portray it to someone coming into the organisation for the first time.
- Everyone will be nervous; you will be if it is your first time conducting an interview and of course the candidate will be too, so make sure you put the candidate at ease as soon as you can so that you can start to relax. Although you are there to interview the person, they are a fellow Assistant so you should have their back and make them feel comfortable.
- Make sure you listen more than you speak. You might love the role and want them to know everything about the office, the culture, your boss but it is their interview so make sure you let them do most of the talking!
- The ideal candidate might not be who you expect from the applications you received so try to remain flexible and give everyone an opportunity to shine. You might end up selecting the candidate who has potential over someone who has all the skills upfront.
Onboarding your replacement
Once you have hired your replacement, it is likely that you will have to onboard them so do make sure that you have a look over the onboarding process and add any additional details that you think will set the new Assistant off on the right foot. Think back to your onboarding experience and try to write down all of the answers to the questions that you had when you started. This will mean that the new Assistant will hit the ground running and you can leave knowing that you have done an excellent job recruiting your replacement.
Preparing for the Perfect PA Role
We cover all aspects of looking for a new Assistant role in our eBook, Preparing for the Perfect PA Role, including a few tips on what you should do once you land your new job and work with a new Executive. Download the book here.