Help me hire a good assistant.

My current assistant is going on maternity leave and I need to hire her replacement (for one year).

The position was posted and there were more than 20 applicants (yeah!!).

HR is narrowing it down to about 5 or 6 for me to interview next week - they’re teem interviews - an HR person will have the standard questions to ask (we use a behavioural interview model at my workplace) and I will be asking job specific questions.

I know exactly what I need/want as far as qualities for this person to have - please help me hone some questions to find these and make suggestions if you have any.

Basic competencies will be covered by HR - everyone who makes it as far as me will have a basic battery of skills and experience so those sorts of things I don’t need to concern myself with too much.

However, some things I’m concerned about:

  1. Overtime. The position will require some overtime, some of the time. This has been an issue in the past - my current AA cannot do overtime as she has child care issues. This bothers me quite a bit; however, it was a situation that was thrust upon me as I kind of inherited her when I got my job. Idealy her replacement will be able to do a bit of overtime when required.

How do I word this question to get an honest answer? I assume that everybody is going to say they can be flexable during their interview - is there a question I can ask that will assure that when crunch time comes a request to stay 15 minutes late to finish up and assignment won’t be met with ‘I have to leave to get to the day care.’ FWIW, my current assistant assured the interviewers that she was flexable and would do overtime when necessary - not so much.

  1. I can be…demanding. That’s not to say that I’m a total bitch, because I’m really not. However, if I ask for something to be done and it’s not done I get frustrated and that shows on my face. I certainly don’t yell or throw things around, but I’ve been known to pull a ‘Hummmmm.’ when I’m not happy. MY boss who this person will have some minor dealings with DOES tend to get pretty vocal if he’s not happy. He has slammed a book or two around as well. So - my AA will need to have a fairly thick skin - they don’t need to be a robot but I can’t have someone bursting into tears everytime there’s an issue. Is there a good question to spot a cryer? Frankly, I would prefer someone who DOESN’T cry at work. Ever. I certainly don’t. Is there a way to weed these people out? I guess if they cry at the interview that’s a good clue, but are there other ways to spot those that may be a bit too sensitive?

  2. Lack of politics. This person is not going to be getting my job - I really don’t want them to be gunning for it. I suppose I could ask the old ‘Where do you see yourself in five years.’ and weed out those that say ‘In your position’ but that seems like a scene in a cheesy movie. Is there a way to find someone who’s ambitious but not back biting?

Here’s the thing - other people at work have attempted to set me up before and they have failed. I have no concern that such attempts would be successful - all of the PTB are confident in my abilities, as am I. Also, I can spot this shit a mile away. However, its a pain in the ass, and I really don’t want to have to fire someones ass, 'cus then it means I have to interview again. Any sure fire weeding tips or questions to ask?

I’ll leave it there becasue this OP is getting very long. So any and all suggestions are welcome. Also, if you have a point that I haven’t mentioned please bring it up - it’s great to have all the info necissary.

This weekend I’m finishing up the specific job description so I may want to include some points from here.


I’m actually going to mention a couple more thoughts/ideas I have about this for input.

I think my ideal would be a younger person with less experience. My reason for this is that I’ve had issues in the past where older AAs who’ve been doing this gig for 30 years will tend to try to tell me how to do my job. Heh. That goes over like a lead baloon.

Any thoughts on this? Am I unnecessarily narrowing the field?

If men apply, what do you think? Has anyone had a male AA before? I’ve never even met one so I’m not sure how it would be - any thoughts?

For the overtime question, perhaps indicate the need for occasional overtime and then ask if they are available for that. After they tell you yes, maybe follow up with a question like “If overtime is needed, is it more convenient for you to come in early or stay a little late?” This may give you an idea if they say “Well I have to pick my child up right after work, so mornings are better.” which may help you.

As for the crying, maybe say “All offices have their times of stress. When you get overwhelmed at work, what is your first reaction?” you could then follow up with something like “What helps you focus and get back on track?” I’m not sure if you’d get anyone who admits to crying, but it might give you an idea of how they think.

Also, I wouldn’t rule out a male AA. For the most part, I think you’d have an easier time with the crying issue. Also, in my experience, men seem to be able to be less sensitive in a work environment.

I’m sure at least some of this will get me flamed, eh… so be it.

Yes - especially with your expressed concerns with child care issues. An older assistant is less likely to have young children and may be more free to do the occassional unexpected overtime.

I was an AA for 20 years and I did NOT tell my boss how to do his/her job! I might make suggestions if I thought something was appropriate, but the boss is the boss and I made it clear it was only a possibility completely subject to the approval of the boss. Otherwise, if the boss wants it a certain way that’s the way it’s done.

An older, experienced AA with just a year or two before retirement might be a good fit, as they won’t be expecting to climb the corporate ladder nor will they be expecting to work there long term.

So, yes, DO consider the older AA. Without question, such a candidate must be otherwise suitable but, frankly, you’re showing an age bias that I find deplorable. Not that it’s uncommon - and it’s one of the reasons why, despite my 20 years experience, I am having a hell of a time finding full time work - everyone wants young. Hey, those of us over 30 need to eat, too.

I’m also baffled why you want someone with less experience… such a person will need more training and is likely to make more errors that are a result of inexperience. Which is not to say you can’t have a very competent 25 year old AA, but those are a bit unusual.

It would be just like a female AA, except the voice answering the phone is deeper. Seriously, what do you expect? I’ve worked with some fine men who were and still are AA’s. If they are professional and skilled their gender is irrelevant.

Oh, there is the downside that a certain number of people will automatically assume that HE is the boss and YOU are the AA… I’ve also seen female executives use that to their advantage, even as it annoys them.

And, oh yeah, men are MUCH less likely to cry at work. As are older women, I might add, because they tend to have a better perspective on things.

Well, I can’t imagine why it would get you flamed - wait - Do you cry at work?!?!?! Heh. That’s a little joke.

I like your first approach to the OT question, actually. My current AA comes in at 7:30 and leaves at 3:30 which isn’t really ideal - I would prefer someone come in at 8:30 and stay till 4:30 - that would give them time to come in a bit early if requried and still leave if they need to pick up their kids or something - this is a good angle.

The crying thing worries me quite a bit. Firstly, I really, really don’t think it’s professional to cry at work. I mean, if your dog dies, fine. But if the photocopier is jammed, tears are not a proper solution. I think this one is going to be tough though. I know lots of women who think crying at work is no big deal and they’ll just go to the bathroom for 20 minutes and compose themselves and come back with a puffy red face and a scratchy voice. I do not want on of these people as my AA.

Actually, my current AA got a call at work that her grandpa had just died suddenly and she was quite upset. I sent her home but suggested that before she drove she should like me walk her over to the coffee shop and get her a hot coco to compose herself (so she wouldn’t put her car in the ditch on the way home). She agreed and even though she was a bit sniffly, she managed to keep herself together enough to get her coco, let me know what she was currently working on so it wouldn’t get missed, and get home safely. I was very impressed by that - I would like that sort of attitude in her replacement.

You know, those are all excellent points that I really hadn’t considered! Seriously - particularly the child care issue. Also, FWIW, by ‘younger’ I was thinking someone around 30, not 19.

I suppose that I would worry with someone who was just about to retire that they may be in ‘winding down’ mode and may not be interested in learning the number of new applications that will be required. This is probably falsed too.

I suppose a few bad experiences in the past have coloured my view - I’ll try to be more open minded for these interviews.

Yes, again you’re obviously correct. I’ve just never met a male AA before and I was wondering if there were differences. The lack of crying would be a huge selling point. I wonder if a male AA would have issues taking direction from a female boss? I’ve had issues like this in the past, although not with an AA - another junior male took issue with my style. I’m really not sure what his issue was, actually - I’m very direct which I would assume many men would prefer, but this guy really got het up about it. However, it could have been an isolated thing.

After some very successful hires, I am considered the person to get to sit in on interviews at my office. I don’t work in HR at all, I’m just apparently good at it, and have helped a couple of my peers with hiring assistants. My last (truly fabulous) assistant just got promoted, and her replacement is shaping up really well. Just to share the perspective I come from.

I tend to be brutally honest in interviews, because I know my workplace culture. It’s actually a great place to work if you’re the right kind of person, so I want to find someone who will fit in.

  1. We also require some unpredictable overtime and weird hours. I emphasize this. “I may call you on Saturday. How do you feel about that? Would it be a problem if you found out at 5:30 you needed to stay until 7PM?” Everyone says they’re flexible, but I find people are more honest to very specific time related questions. I do stress that our goal is not to run them into the ground, though. I’m talking 50 hours, not 80.

  2. I always ask two questions: How do you deal with high stress and chaos? and How do you deal with difficult people? I’m both interested in the answers and interested in how they react to the question. I might ask for an example from their past about those things. Mostly I want to see they have some framework for managing it. “I work as hard as I can,” is an answer that spells doom.

I also ask about their experiences with and opinion of criticism. (My boss, who has to vet my top candidates, likes to actually criticize the interviewee just to see how they take it). I have a (very, very big money household name) client who is prone to over-reaction and spleen-venting. Like you I can not have a crier-- or someone full of smartass attitude, either.

I try to gauge their personality and sense of humor. Sometimes I’ll ask them to tell me about their sense of humor. We’re a bunch of dry, sarcastic and sometimes brusque people. I can not have someone easily offended, or who takes everything to heart.

  1. This, I admit, is tricker. Inquiring about people’s career goals can help. Not choosing someone overqualified can help, too. In this case you may do better with a career AA. A lot of that depends on your budget. I think smart and experienced is the best combo, but around here those people can command salaries higher than my current margins allow-- so when my choices are smart and inexperienced or mediocre and experienced, I tend to chose the former. I make sure they understand that their training will not be extensive, and I don’t like to say things twice. If that doesn’t scare them than we may have a good fit.

It’s also good to make sure they understand the parameters of the job. You don’t want someone who thinks filing is beneath them, if that’s a job requirement. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to “scare off” an applicant. They need to know the realities.

One of the things it’s important to watch for is authority issues. I find this especially difficult as a woman. I’m young, and I look younger. I’m cute in a “pinch your cheeks” sort of way. It’s equal opportunity-- older people want to mother me and younger people want to be my buddy. It’s a fine balance.

I encouraged one of my peers to hire a guy as her assistant over her reservations (about authority issues), and it worked out great. She’s kind of a ball breaker and would have eaten a sensitive person for breakfast. Guys do tend to have thicker skins and less drama.

Before I took my career in a different direction, I was an EA, and that probably helps a lot in my hiring. If there’s a successful and respected EA in your office who’s work you like, and who could spare a little time, you might find it very beneficial to have her vet your top choices.
Also, I put a lot of effort into having just the right job add, and I do a lot of weeding at the resume level. This can be kind of a battle with HR-- they like to sort the resumes, do phone screenings and then pass them up to me, and get annoyed when I won’t interview a candidate they’ve already screened because I don’t like their resume. But they also won’t let me dictate what I want to see. They want to make the call based on the job description, and find some of my criteria irrelevant. (PM me if you’re interested in specifics)

I would agree with this - I’ve known too many AA’s who were told the job requirements were one thing, or not told about a job requirement, and who later got a rude shock (the worst case I think was an Orthodox Jewish woman who stated at her interview that did NOT work on Saturdays… and was later fired because the boss couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t bend on that. Much heartache all around, and it could have been easily avoided.)

Oh, good lord, Og save us from AA’s who feel they are above filing! But seriously, be upfront - I had an AA job once where one of my duties was to make coffee for the whole office. The boss was surprised I was OK with that, but hey, it was clearly stated in the interview that was an expected duty so I knew about it upfront, no surprises.

Don’t worry - age will eventually cure that! :wink:

You should also ask any other AA’s or receptionists a candidate comes into contact with how they treat them - You don’t want someone who gets along great with management but pisses off and alienates all the other “lower” staff as such an AA will never truly be a team player.

At my last corporate job ANY job candidate for ANY position who treated the receptionists/AA’s/EA’s badly was NOT hired, no matter how well qualified otherwise!

HR also believes you can take anyone and hammer them into the waiting hole, and it just ain’t so. Personality? What’s that? People are interchangeable cogs as far as they’re concerned.

Why not tell them this stuff up front? Tell them exactly what you just told us.

I’ll be honest here. I’ve been an AA before, and a damned good one. And from what I’ve read here, I would not take the job. Your requirements read like a personal ad- with rather specific requirements for age, gender, emotional life, personal time, family style, life goals…

It’s just all a lot more personal and controlling than I am comfortable in the workplace.

So yeah, just tell this up front and they will weed themselves out.

I think your concern is reasonable, but your approach to weeding out such people is ineffective and wrong-headed. You need to compose a specific question or two which will help you to tell the difference between someone who will do things your way even if it’s the stupid way and someone who will tell you that you are doing things the stupid way and should do things their way instead.

You also want to ask people specifics about the last new software package (or whatever) they learned and how they learned it and over how much time rather than assume that 25 year old means born with a mouse in her hand (or Nintendo controller in her hand) and 25 years of experience means lack of flexibility/slow to learn new things.

I agree with the above - keep an open mind, ask specific questions and be honest.

“I have a fairly stressful job and I put a lot of demands on my admin. I may not always come off as the nicest person in the world. I do understand I can be challenging to work with. Can you tell me about how you’ve dealt with coworkers you find challenging.”

Also understand that if you are very demanding in your expectations, and very honest, you may find five applicants who turn you down. We’ve gone through that where we’ve had to do a reset on what we are expecting.

(One of the best EAs I ever worked with was a guy. Could handle getting a ton of stuff done. Worked for a challenging boss and she was able to push him farther than she pushed most (though eventually, even he quit when he had a vacation scheduled for six months to Europe and she told him to cancel it.) Smart, professional, dedicated, didn’t get pregnant or need to go home to kids. It was the mid 80s and he was gay, he had more funeral leave than anyone I’ve ever met - was gone more often than a young mom with an ear infection prone kid, but that was a sad mark of the times).

This is a temp job, right? What’s the pay like? I’m not sure you’re going to find someone who fits all of your qualifications–smart, thick-skinned, willing to work overtime, no family demands, not too ambitious–who will want a temporary position. If it was a permanent job, you might have better luck. I’d settle on which three qualities are most important to you, and which you’ll be willing to compromise on, knowing this person will only be with you for a year.

I’ve been an AA, and I have an AA.

One thing I know I tend to do that sabotages my own interviews is that (if I’m not paying attention) I will provide the answer in my question.

Me: This position requires a flexible approach to overtime. How do you feel about that?
Interviewee: I’m very flexible.

WELL DUH, I just said we were looking for a flexible person!

So now I always try to prepare my questions in advance to make sure I’m asking truly open-ended questions in hopes of getting more honest answers. Such as “How frequently are you comfortable with working overtime?” and then see if I get every day or once a week or once a month or once a year.

When reference checking, I also ask if the person worked overtime and how often. If the person says “very often” I ask for a more specific number, because how do I know what “often” means to someone else?

I also ask the interviewee to describe some “challenges” they have faced in previous jobs, and how they handled them. If they give an answer that is more skills-based (also informative in an interview) I will follow up with a question about how they approach their interactions with difficult coworkers. I pay close attention to how they define “difficult”. I once had an applicant describe her “difficult” manager as someone who was “too uptight about deadlines” :eek: It’s always a bad sign if they are describing me.

You can get a lot of clues from these answers about whether there is likely to be crying or personal drama. I try to stay extremely neutral so that the interviewee can’t tell much from my reaction – this is not the time to “hummmmm” otherwise the interviewee will switch gears and feed you answers to get a better response from you.

Some of this is repetitious, and I’m assuming that hearing the AA/applicant viewpoint is helpful to you. This is strictly my viewpoint, but this go round I’ll be pointing out items that would concern me or that I would have questions about if I were applying for the job.

As mentioned, be very specific with this - it sound like your overtime is not something that is easily planned for but is rather short notice event. So you need someone who can do overtime on short notice, as in, “at 4:55 I might ask you to stay until 7:30. How do you feel about that?” and “Occasionally I ask my AA to come in on a Saturday, and again, this will be on short notice. Can you meet that requirement?”

As the applicant I will now be concerned that this job requires a LOT of overtime, so you may need to make it clear that (apparently) this is an occasional and not a constant occurrence. Now, for my last AA position (which I held for 9 years) They mentioned something very similar then followed it up with examples of when such requests were most likely to occur - in their case, they published their research every 6-8 weeks, and it was the last week in the publication cycle when that request was likely. There was also a conference 3 times a year, and overtime might be requested for that. Otherwise - overtime would be almost unheard of. And that information was very helpful to me, much more so that what you had in your post (I understand you were being brief in your post).

(As it turned out, I was able to escape needing overtime for the publication most cycles, which management was quite happy about that as then they didn’t have to pay me time and a half.)

You can segue this into a question or two about how s/he handles the unexpected and ad hoc/urgent requests and needs - I’m assuming you need someone who can handle those, too.

Well… no, not one that can guarantee that, there’s always the possibility someone is out-and-out lying.

Where I used to work, in the Chicago Loop, everyone took mass transit to and from. There was some concern about that, as I live 45 miles away, in another state. I was asked a similar question to that. I followed up stating I usually took the 5:10 pm train back to Indiana but there were other trains at 5:28, 5:30, 6:00 and 7:45… but I would not feel safe going home much later than that. I also had two alternate routes home in case the train was non-functional, and that it would be extremely difficult for me to come in early. Well, everyone had their cards on the table, right? It turns out my limitations still met their requirements, and was later told they had confidence in my answers because I was so specific.

It’s not just the question, it’s also the answer you get. People who are bullshitting you are usually not so specific.

There is the problem that these days there is an ever growing pool of wannabe workers chasing a shrinking pool of jobs. Well, that’s good for you, in the sense that you will be able to choose from many candidates, but you will also get people desperate for a job who will make commitments they can’t handle. Again, though, those who are bullshitting usually don’t work out, as an example, a detailed list of alternate routes/means to get home.

I do understand that, and competent AA’s understand that. We’re there to help you do your job better. As others have said, be specific about what you require.

You know, that would make me stand up and walk out of the interview right there. Frowning, yes, even yelling I can stand, but physical demonstrations of anger, no, I find that unacceptable behavior and even a little frightening. Well, OK, we have established that Broomstick is not suited to being your AA - not because of you, but because of your boss.

Does/did that happen a lot at your workplace? My experience is that crying seldom happens at the office (and usually is done discreetly when it does happen, in the Ladies room, and not in public).

If it’s one person it might be just that one person. If a LOT of people do it, or it’s common, there’s something wrong other than a weepy staff member.

Well, again, there are no guarantees, but ask them how they deal with people who are temperamental or who can be difficult while under stress. Ask them HOW they deal with such people - for example if you asked me that my response would be along the lines of I keep my voice level, I don’t take things personally, and I make sure to use very polite, calm language as a way of moderating the situation as much as I can. How would you feel about an answer like that? Note that I didn’t just say I handled it well, I mentioned specific actions on my part that I would take with a “difficult” person. (I have actually had to deal with upper management men crying on two occasions - that was a bit of a head trip but I got them calmed down and sorted out. And of course I never, ever mentioned their sobs to anyone, not even them).

I suppose you could ask them if they’ve ever had to deal with a crying co-worker and how they feel about that…

How do I deal with a crying co-worker? Well, if there is a clearly identifiable problem, such as a Director arrived in Iowa with no hotel room available and got mugged on the way to finding a taxi - that was one of the crying men, under the circumstances I couldn’t really fault him - I work on solving the problem (in this case, call hotels in the area until I could book him a room (we had a credit card for such emergencies) and asked the hotel concierge to get someone to pick him up and put the cost on our bill. Which, while it didn’t make everything all better certainly did help. In another instance, the son of one of my co-workers was murdered. She did have a few crying spells in the first month after, but I encouraged her to take a few minutes, or helped her find a private room, so that her (understandable) grief would be as minimally disruptive as possible. In other words, solve any triggering problems, and keep disruptions to a minimum. Um… how would you feel about an answer like that?

OK, please don’t ask the “where do you see yourself in five years” question if you’re only hiring them for one. That’s… ridiculous. Just be very up front that this is only for one year and no matter how wonderful a job they do you are legally obligated, once her maternity leave is over, to offer your prior assistant her old job or an equivalent position. Personally, I prefer to work for people who are just honest and up front. The job being only for one year is a bit of a problem, but there are people willing to take on such a thing.

Nothing sure-fire. Hiring a new person always entails some risk.

However, I think that precise, specific answers are usually the honest ones.

Alice, if the most important things to you are flexibility on time, competence, not gunning for your job, and not crying (and seriously, where are all these cryers coming from? There’s no crying at work!), you should definitely consider an older assistant.

  1. She’s less likely to have small children or a hot date with that cutie from accounting, so she can stay a little later if she likes. Granted, she may *not *like, so be very honest up front about your overtime needs.

  2. A career admin isn’t gunning for your job. That said, I’ve been with the same boss for seven years, and yeah, I occasionally, gently, suggest ways he could do something better. That’s not because I think I know his job better than he does, that’s because he is human, and subject to all the attendant brain cramps, and *my *job is to make him look good, or at the very least, never let him look bad. Not all suggestions are criticisms. Maybe you should look to the thickness of your own skin.

  3. An older, career admin knows there’s no crying at work!

As for guys, there’s no reason a guy can’t be a great admin. That said, my personal experience is that guys tend to perform the bare minimum requirements of a job they clearly consider beneath them until they’ve put in enough time to get a promotion. That said, if you only need this person for a year, this might be a viable option, provided you make clear that his prospects within the organization are entirely dependent upon your happiness with him.

Not much more to add, and you’ve mentioned your company does behavioral interviewing, which is good. The phrases “Describe a time when” and “Tell me about an instance where” are your friend. Don’t ask closed-ended yes or no questions or questions where it’s clear the response you’re looking for. Have your candidate tell you about an instance in their real working life where they’ve dealt with a situation they’re likely to confront in your office. How they’ve handled a situation in the past can indicate how they’re likely to deal with it in the future. If you’re a tough interviewer, you will find candidates who can deal with a tough boss.

Excellent replies all!

Just to answer a few questions and provide a bit more detail.

The amount of OT really is minimal. Saturdays would probably happen once a year and would be planned months in advance and I will bring that up in the interview. The work week at my workplace is 35 hours and it would be very rare that the person would need to work more than 40 - even 40 would be quite unusual. My major issue with my current AA is that I’ll give her an assignment with a deadline. The deadline will be looming and I’ll indicate that she needs to stay until she finishes and she’ll cop the ‘I need to get to the daycare’ thing whice makes me irate (in my head - no reason to freak out - like I said I inherited her).

And before anyone jumps on me, I don’t spring deadlines at 3:00 and insist stuff is done by 3:30. If something urgent comes up I’ll call her on my way to work (she gets in before me) and give her a heads up that it’s urgent. The only time I’ve MADE her stay is when she had MISSED THE DEADLINE by days and wrong information was circulating. I insisted that she had to stay until it was corrected/finished even if it meant calling her husband to pick up her son at daycare.

I don’t really think that makes me a bitch, particularly since I actually shielded her from my boss who was WILD about it.

As to the crying thing, there are a few women who work at my workplace who are cryers; however, I’ve always chalked that up to manipulation to be honest. The same group of women tend to make rude comments about their bosses (comments which are false), make rude comments about gay people, generally act like little bitches. I REALLY don’t want another one of these working for me. My current AA is very respectful and (I’m going to say this and then explain - don’t kill me before I do so) she knows her place. That’s an inelegant way to say it, but what I mean is she doesn’t badmouth my boss and his collegues. We work at a university - the faculty may be rediculous, may have no interpersonal skills, and may dress like goofs from the 80s. However, they’re all highly educated people and I object strongly when a 22 year old with a GED calls them stupid. My current AA respects education - she is currently working on an accounting diploma - and recognizes that someone who is very busy and absent minded is not stupid.

My former AA and I had problems with this when she would refer to faculty as idiots/stupid/morons. It REALLY pisses me off, particularly given how often I needed to repeat instructions to HER, or answer the same question 5 times before she got it.

I really, really am understanding when there is an issue that deserves a good cry. Jesus - if my AA’s child was murdered and they actual came in to work I think I’d bake them a damn cake. My objection is more to when people screw up and then burst into tears when you correct them. For exampel, if someone comes into the office for a meeting with my boss and me, don’t say that you have no idea where I am (particularly when both my boss and I said where we would be) and send the person away. If you DO do this, do not cry when I tell you it was a really bad thing to do. If you fuck up, I need to you admit that you fucked up and say you’ll try not to do it again. Not turn on the water works as a way to make me look like the bad guy, ya know?

This is a temp job - for one year; however, we are very much a foot in the door organization - there are some very specific programs that we use - they are cumbersome, not user friendly, and a big pain in the ass - anyone who has experience with these programs can basically write their own ticket. Further, within my Faculty there will be a number of full time AA jobs coming online in the next year to 15 months. Finally, we are a new Faculty - we create full time admin jobs for people who are very good at their jobs in order to retain them. Honestly, there are about 30 full time AA jobs at my University right now and I still got 20+ applications for my AA job because our Faculty has such a positive reputation. So while it is a temp position, it’s a temp position with legs. (where I live unemployment is below 4% I think - this type of job is very hard to fill).

Frankly, lots of the AAs that have posted in this thread sound awesome - I would be thrilled to get someone like any of you. I think the OP read as though I’m a tyrant - I’m really not - I just spelled out my entire wishlist for the ideal AA - obviously I can be flexable - my current AA cannot and does not do overtime which is irksome but we still have a very good working relationship - her other qualities make up for that negative one.

I don’t think it’s wrong to list every single thing I want with the knowledge that some compromise will be necessary.

Well, if your job involves things suddenly cropping up I wouldn’t jump on you about it - but I would want to know about before accepting a job. What you describe, though is very reasonable.

Actually, that was good of you - I’ve know quite a few bosses who were happy to throw their underlings to the Big Boss if it would save them any trouble at all.

Ah, eggheads (I mean that in the nicest possible way). I used to work with a team where everyone had multiple doctorates. Yes, absent-minded - but it was my job to do the routine stuff so they could work on what they were actually hired to do that utilized there impressive educations.

Again, my job is to help other people do their jobs better.

She DID take some time off. In fact, her supervisor had a talk with her, her first morning back, because there was concern that she wasn’t emotionally ready to come back. She took one or two “mental health” days, and last I heard she is still being granted time off to attend the trial dates for the young man accused of doing the deed. She’s quite tough in many ways, but oh, that was a heartbreaking episode!

THAT is not a professional reaction.

She did that? Wow.

Of course, you have to be wary of making promises you can’t keep, but perhaps you can point out that although this position is only for a year, the AA would be in a position to hear about and apply for other positions?

Not my current AA, no. This was a former AA who I DID choose - however, the reason I chose her is she was VERY highly recommended to me by one of my best friends (she had been her former supervisor).

When I told my friend about her behaviour my friend was NOT happy - it made HER look bad. I tease her about it now. :slight_smile:

I have a couple of criers in the group where I work. It’s really awkward, even (or perhaps especially) for the women who are not work criers. I have a woman friend who works at a law firm in a group that seems to be largely women (at least at her level) and apparently crying is a regular thing, which would totally drive me up the wall.

Aside from that, DianaG makes a lot of good points for an older, experienced career admin. The best admins I’ve seen are the mature ones who know or will rapidly learn the ins and outs of penetrating the bureaucracy and dealing with the travel reimbursement system; they also know how to keep people in line. And of course, they’re generally going to have less in the way of personal issues that they bring to work. The only trick is dealing with someone older than you to whom you give instructions, which is really more of a personality issue than a work function problem.